From the experts at Studio Belize® - Design studio for children's products:
Discover the fascinating Montessori method by Maria Montessori. Want to apply Montessori principles at home? Learn practical tips for your Montessori environment in the kitchen, nursery and living room. Learn to organize the environment in such a way that Montessori games are integrated into the daily routine, the concentration and motivation of your child is promoted. Small changes can make self-directed learning at home very easy.
How do I create a Montessori environment at home?
What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method was developed more than 100 years ago by Italian physician Maria Montessori and is based on the belief that children are capable of initiating their own learning experiences. When you visit a Montessori facility like a Montessori kindergarten, you'll find a great mix of materials and activities specifically designed for multi-faceted learning - meaning students are challenged physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially.
How do you set up your home according to Montessori?
Most people have heard of Montessori education, but many don't know that Montessori theories are also concepts that can be successfully implemented at home. This is because children learn not only when they are in school, but they learn wherever they are. And most of the time, children are in their homes.
Why should parents consider using Montessori principles at home?
There are many reasons, but the most important is that it is a great way to recognize and develop children's innate ability to learn about the world around us through meaningful play. With a few changes in your home environment, you can nurture your children's natural curiosity and ability to learn for years to come.
Implement Montessori principles at home
When it comes to implementing Montessori principles at home, most parents are intrigued by the idea but don't know where to start. But it starts with a change in mindset. As a parent, you must first understand that children - even the youngest ones - are capable of more than you think. Once you realize this, you can make some changes in your home to make the Montessori lifestyle a success at home.
Here are some ways you can create a Montessori environment for your child:
1. Organize your environment
"A place for everything and everything in its place" is one of the most important Montessori principles for the home. If every item has a designated place, your child will quickly learn where everything belongs. This is an important tool to teach him to be responsible for his things and to clean up the messes he creates. For this to succeed, you must first and foremost make sure that things are more accessible to your child.
In which room does your child spend the most time?
Start there and arrange this room according to the Montessori principles, then you can tackle the other rooms step by step. Below are some of the best Montessori home decorating ideas that will promote your child's learning and independence.
Montessori in the kitchen
Your kitchen offers your growing child numerous opportunities for independence - from helping you put away groceries to cleaning up the floors and tables after a meal. Setting up your kitchen so things are easy to reach and tasks are simplified for your little one will encourage them to do more things with less guidance.
Follow these suggestions to make your kitchen more accessible for your child:
Food and beverage storage: keep healthy snacks/fruit at the very bottom of the refrigerator or in a fruit bowl on the dining room table for your child to help themselves. Keep drinks in small carafes on a tray with small cups and put the tray where your child can easily reach it. If your child is thirsty, he or she can help themselves - just make sure there's a dishtowel nearby that they can use to clean up any spills.
Learning tower and step stool: Place step stools in both the kitchen and bathroom so your child can wash their hands and, in the case of the kitchen, help prepare meals and wash dishes.
Tables and chairs:
Set up a child-sized table and chair in the kitchen so your child can prepare their own meals (simple snacks, etc.) and have a comfortable place to sit and eat. Also teach your child how to clean up after eating and how to keep the dining area clean.
Utensils: Keep your child's favorite utensils (bowls, plates, cups, etc.) in a low cabinet or drawer so he or she can easily reach these items and put them away after cleanup. Giving your child real utensils instead of play versions will also help them learn to use them properly at the dinner table.
How do I set up the child's room according to Montessori?
Pikler triangle with slide
The children's room according to Montessori should be clearly structured, freely accessible and clearly arranged. In this place, your child will have specifically furnished areas, such as the play, sleep, work and rest areas. You should ensure that the room is minimalist and furnished with furniture that makes objects accessible to the child. The child should be able to decide for themselves when they want to use an item, retrieve it, or even bring it back. Overstimulation and distraction by too many objects, toys or bright wall colors should be avoided.
Clothing: Keep clothes in low drawers or baskets, and bring the clothes rail to eye level so your child can easily reach his or her clothes. It is also advisable to stock your child's drawers, baskets and closets with seasonally appropriate clothing. In this way, you will help your child enormously in his independent decision-making and your child will not get the idea, for example, to wear a winter coat in summer. As your child gets older, he will understand when certain clothes are appropriate and will have access to his entire wardrobe.
Toy storage: place toys, games and craft supplies on low open shelves so your child can easily access them. Then, distribute these toys among different baskets and bins to keep items separate and easy to find without having to dig through piles of other toys.
Bed: For Montessori bedrooms, a floor bed is advisable so that your toddler has easy access to their bed and can get in and out of it at will. In addition, the risk of injury in the event of a fall from the floor bed is significantly minimized compared to a conventional bed.
Decoration: get your child's opinion on the type of decoration in his room. Think about his interests and design the room according to his preferences - for example, with flowers, stars and planets or dinosaurs. A mirror in the room helps older children choose their clothes, and babies and toddlers love to see their own reflection.
As part of the Montessori approach, parents are also encouraged to change their children's toys and books every few weeks. This is to stimulate the children's curiosity and prevent boredom. This may seem like too much to some parents, but it's best to switch out the items on your shelf according to the seasons and your child's current interests. Does he or she get excited about cars? Then put a basket of cars and a few age-appropriate books on the shelves. Whatever topics your children find interesting, the important thing is to encourage them to explore and be creative.
How do I set up the living room according to Montessori?
If you want to transform your living room into a Montessori room, you can proceed similarly to how you set up your children's room - but with a few adjustments! Your living room is still the family room, so you don't have to convert the entire area into a Montessori learning environment. However, you can set up a small area or corner just for your child. To do this, we recommend considering the following points:
Shelves: you can set up open shelves to create a special Montessori environment with flashcards, puzzles, books, toys and other learning materials. Separate the toys as you would in a child's room by putting them in baskets or assigning them specific places on the shelves. That way, your child will know where to return the items.
Storing items: If you replace your child's toys and books regularly, you should store them in "hidden" places. These places can be behind the couch, in closets, or in storage bins.
In addition to a table and chair in your child's room, you can use colorful play mats to mark where your child can do their activities. We recommend mats made of natural materials that are easy to roll up and store away.
Mastering everyday tasks
Even young children are capable of helping out around the house. By teaching them to take care of themselves and their surroundings at a young age, you're preparing your child to be a considerate, capable adult later on. This means that as a mom or dad, you have to be patient when teaching your child how to properly wipe the table after dinner or which cupboard to put their cups in. But children are so receptive that it won't be long before they can do this on their own.
Remember to adapt the tasks to your child's age and abilities. For example, younger children are perfectly capable of learning to water plants, feed pets, wipe the table after dinner, and pick up their toys. Older children can incorporate more complex tasks like meal preparation and simple chores into their routine.
Learning to concentrate
Many adults believe that young children cannot concentrate, and it is also true that children cannot focus on anything for as long as adults. However, according to the Montessori Method, this is a skill you can cultivate in your child at a young age. It works best if you find out what your child is interested in and provide them with the materials and space they need to explore thoroughly.
In the beginning, many people mistakenly assume that they need to give their child a space that is closed off from the rest of the family. However, this is not the case. Some children do need more privacy than others, but it's important to find out how your child works best and then encourage that. Some children like to work at the kitchen table in the middle of the house. Others prefer the privacy of their nursery or a quiet corner in a playroom.
Focus on internal motivation, not rewards.
The Montessori method does not emphasize rewarding children for their behavior, such as with stickers or candy. Verbal praise is appreciated - however, it is important to make sure it is given in moderation. Most importantly, teach your children to enjoy the feelings of joy and pride when they learn something new or master a task.