According to Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, “To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely”. She was acclaimed for her system of education for young children that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. It’s about letting children learn at their own pace while letting them choose the tools or activities for themselves. The good news is that you can start incorporating the Montessori method of learning at home as early as you can.
Here are some helpful tips to help you create a Montessori-style space in your home:
- De-clutter. It’s easier said than done but a Montessori-style room encourages simplicity. This means making more space for moving rather than focusing on the room’s aesthetics. It should be set-up without excessive toys and bulky furniture. The fewer clutter, the easier it will be for your kids to know where everything goes, and they will surely enjoy packing-away toys. Arrange groups of Montessori toys like blocks, beads, and flashcards on trays. Provide child-sized tools, furnishings, and utensils. Put low shelves, a small table, and a chair as well as cups, bowls, and spoons that are just the right size for their small hands.
- Prepare the environment. The idea is to create an environment with the right materials and make it free of obstacles. Having a prepared environment facilitates maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. There are weaning tables and infant chairs meant for Montessori-style spaces. Low, open shelving is also a staple piece of furniture in a Montessori classroom as it allows kids to easily use and put away materials and toys, promoting independence. Last, but not the least, make sure to child-proof the space so that the kids will have the freedom to move and explore confidently!
- Pick the right toys. Montessori-friendly toys are usually made of wood and natural materials. Aside from emphasizing simplicity through toys, wooden ones last longer than the plastic ones. Montessori toys give children the ability to take control as these encourage use of imagination. Some come in basic shapes such as sticks, blocks, arcs, triangles, and circles, allowing the kids to come up with different creative ways to use them in different subject areas. But aside from these toys that you can buy or make for your kids, nothing beats spending time outside and engaging in open-ended play and exploration. Have your kids collect rocks, leaves, flowers, and keep them in a tray for studying!
- Assign a place for each item. The child’s space should have a sense of order and cleanliness. Limit the items that you put out. Having fewer items out will not only be easier to clean-up but it will also allow kids to take responsibility for putting their things away. From birth to five years old, Montessori believes children learn best in a calm and orderly environment. Children go through different spontaneous stages where they master specific skills. These stages can take several weeks. Hence, it is important to recognize and capitalize on these sensitive periods by preparing the right tools to use, providing adequate space to work in, and giving them enough time to finish each activity.
Author Bio: Rana Tarakji is an entrepreneur and a contributing writer at OneSEO who lives in Beirut, Lebanon. Rana Tarakji is passionate about digital marketing, startups, helping entrepreneurs grow, and empowering them to live their dreams. She has worked as a digital marketer, a technology co-founder and business developer, and a writer.