Five Montessori Areas To Create At Home
Last updated 2/8/2021 at 2:32pm
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that education should be an aid to life. She believed that the child's early functional independence in caring for oneself and one's school and familial environments builds the foundation for psychological maturity as the child enters adulthood.
Montessori schools encourage, scaffold and celebrate children's independence and believe these skills are an integral part of preparation for life. This includes autonomy, self-determination, self-motivation and a sense of responsibility for caring for not only oneself, but also the larger community and eventually the world.
Parents have an important role in supporting a child's independence from the very beginning of life. Even away from the structure of school over a holiday break or in a remote learning setting, time at home can be a natural place to practice these essential practical life skills. Here are five Montessori-themed areas to consider setting up at home to support your child's independence:
1.Child-Sized Work Space
For the young child, a low child-sized table and chair in or near the kitchen for kitchen or other messy art work, or a safe stool to help children reach kitchen workspaces. It is important for the child to have a space they can use that fits their body and allows them to access it independently. This should not be the place the child eats meals since those will happen at the family table; rather it serves as an independent workspace for the child.
2.Child-Sized Kitchen Tools
Help your child be independent by getting his own snacks or helping cut vegetables for lunch or dinner. Have a small pitcher with water, milk, or juice, and child-sized glasses accessible to the child. Children also love serving others at meal times. Offer a small cutting board and child-sized cutting tools for cutting fruits and vegetables. Fragile items like glass cups rather than plastic offer the child real consequences when things drop and can also aid them in slowing down and moving more carefully and thoughtfully.
3.Toy Shelf Organized with Baskets and Trays
Organization aids the child's independence. They are better able to take care of their toys and other personal items when they are organized in a logical way. Instead of a toy box, where everything is piled in together, a low shelf, where toys are organized in one basket or tray, helps a child make choices and makes it feel more manageable to clean up when finished. Less is best, so consider rotating toys regularly rather than having everything out at once. Another bonus is that each time different toys come out even old toys feel new.
4.Child-Sized Cleaning Tools
Create a cleaning shelf for your child to help with chores. A child-sized broom, carpet sweeper vacuum, caddy with spray bottle and squeegee for cleaning windows, towels for wiping tables, soft cloths or dusters, and even a mop and bucket can be used. A child-sized apron can help signal the starting and finishing of an activity, and can encourage them to complete it. It may take a little longer to include your child in the cleaning of the house, but it will do wonderful things to help build their confidence, sense of belonging in caring for the home, and move their bodies in active and purposeful ways. The child should also have an organized and accessible place for their clothing so they can dress themselves each day.
5.Cool Down Space
To aid a child's emotional regulation, consider creating a cozy, quiet, peaceful spot for your child to have when emotions are high. This should be a comfortable spot that could also be used as a quiet reading corner. Soft cushions and pillows, comfort items like loveys, books, sensory fidget toys, a soft light lamp, mindfulness activity ideas for the child, or anything else can help your child feel safe and relaxed. In the beginning, it may even be a spot to go with your child to calm big emotions, and begin to transition to a calm place where the child can be ready to talk through their emotions. This should not be used as a place to send a child when they think they are "in trouble" but rather a place for your child to go to help calm them when they feel big feelings. Involve your child in creating it and allow it to grow with your child. It can be a journaling space for older children.
For more information and further reading, visit: http://www.montessorimethod.com/toddler-kitchen and http://www.mindfullittleminds.com/create-a-calm-down-space/
(Nicoletti is an instructor at Mountain Sun Community School, a nonprofit 501c3 independent school in Brevard. Mountain Sun serves children ages 3 through middle school and combines Montessori education with outdoor exploration, artistic creativity, and community service. Visit http://www.mountainsunschool.org or call (828) 885-2555 for more information.)