Are you interested in learning more about creating a Montessori environment at home? Well, you have come to the right place. One of the foundational Montessori principles is to have a ‘prepared environment’ and this doesn’t just apply in a classroom setting either. You can easily transfer these Montessori principles at home.
Just to clarify, it also doesn’t mean you have to set up a Montessori homeschool either, your children can still go to a mainstream school, and then all of this can be done in the home environment too.
What is a prepared environment?
A prepared environment is one that is designed to facilitate independent learning and exploration by the child. Maria Montessori, the creator of the Montessori Method, understood that the environment around the child, had an influence on how and what they will learn. She said that to assist a child, we must provide them with an environment which will enable them to develop freely.
So, it is our job as parents and caregivers to ensure we make the environment as accessible to the child as we can, to ensure maximum independence.
What to do first?
So, I bet you are wondering how you can set up a Montessori environment for toddlers and older children in your own home. Firstly, create a ‘yes space’. Now this isn’t just applicable to those who want to follow the Montessori practice at home. This can apply to all parenting ways.
There is probably nothing worse than always having to tell your child ‘No’. No don’t touch that, no put that down, no that’s not yours, etc. Well why not remove all of these obstacles where appropriate, so that our children are free to explore safely and the chance of us having to say no is limited.
Get down on the child’s level. Can you see everything ok? Can you reach everything? Are items too big? It can be overwhelming for the child if everything around them is too hard to access and use.
Start off with having a low-level unit in the lounge or even their bedroom with their toys on so that they can access it easily. You don’t have to go out and buy new if you can’t afford it. Just utilise an existing bookshelf for example and let them use the bottom shelf. A low windowsill can work in the same way too. Be creative.
If you can, have a designated area for larger toys and learning items but we know that isn’t always possible due to space in modern homes.
In the kitchen you could have a drawer that they could reach to help themselves to snacks from. You could also have a step or even a learning tower, so that they can reach the work surfaces and assist in cooking or washing up etc, with your supervision of course.
Size appropriate items
Why not buy a few child-sized appropriate tools for your little ones to use? Such as sweeping brushes for when they ‘help’ with housework or even garden tools for when you move outside for activities. There are so many available now that there is no need for your child to feel left out or struggle with adult sized items.
Hanging hooks low down by the front door is a great idea so they can get their coat themselves when going out. The independence that small change will give to your child will be huge. In their bedrooms you can try them out on a floor bed. This means they can get up without having to wait for someone to get them out of a cot. Not for everyone of course but lots of people love them.
As with the hooks by the front door, you could prepare an area in their room, so that they can access some of their clothes and get dressed by themselves each day. You can also get child friendly mirrors that you can stick on the wall too. We really love this idea.
There are lots of ways you can create a more prepared environment, and these are just a few. You do whatever works best for you and be creative. Remember parenting Montessori-style is all about respecting your child as a person, fostering their freedom and independence and to follow their lead. Not everyone’s children will be ready for some of the above-mentioned ideas at the same time and that is completely ok, follow their lead!
We hope you found this brief introduction into Montessori at home useful and we will have plenty more to talk to you about very soon.