The Montessori philosophy can easily be applied to all areas of the home, including a playroom. The same principles of design used in Montessori classroom environments—order, natural beauty, simplicity—can inspire beautiful and functional play spaces for children of all different ages.
A Montessori-inspired playroom doesn't need traditional Montessori academic materials. This is especially true if your child attends a Montessori school. Replicating the school materials at home can easily lead to burnout and a lack of interest from the child.
Try using these ideas for your Montessori play space at home and watch your child benefit from the approach, regardless of what type of school he attends:
Young children have a deep need for order, and this is reflected in all Montessori classrooms and home spaces.
Three ways to create order in your playroom are:
A. Group toys by category.
Montessori classrooms group the work on the shelves by type—language, math, science, etc. You can use this same idea in your playroom. Put all of the puzzles on one shelf, building toys like blocks on another shelf and art on a third shelf. This type of logical design may be subtle, but it contributes to the overall order of the room.
B. Offer a defined workspace.
In Montessori classrooms, each child chooses where they will sit to work, rather than having an assigned desk. Children can work at tables or on work rugs on the floor. Have a defined space on which to work or play helps children contain their materials and encourages them to develop organizational skills.
Make sure you include a defined table and floor space where your child can use their toys. This is especially beneficial if you have more than one child sharing the space, as it gives each child their own space.
C. Assign a place for every toy.
You will not find large bins of toys in a Montessori space. Each material has a very specific space where it belongs on a shelf rather than tucked away somewhere. Assigning a space for every toy allows children to easily view the options available, find what they're looking for, and return toys to their proper place when they are finished. When this method is used, even very young toddlers will often put their toys away without being asked.
This is, of course, easier if the number of toys is limited. The younger the child, the fewer toys are needed. Select a few toys at a time based on your child's current interests and abilities and rotating as you notice them losing interest.
While there is no need for academic materials in a Montessori playroom, you will find a certain kind of toy. Montessori-friendly toys are non-electronic and are made of natural materials (think wood, metal, clay, glass) whenever possible. These play spaces might include open-ended toys (blocks), toys that encourage fine motor development (puzzles) and dramatic play items (toy animals or a realistic doll, musical instruments, books and art materials).
Montessori spaces encourage children to be independent by offering child-sized furniture even for the youngest children, displaying all available items on low shelves within reach of the child, and including tools, such as small brooms and sponges, for the child to clean up their own messes.
Using these principles in your child's playroom will mean that they don't need to rely on you to lift them into a chair, get toys down off of a high shelf, or follow them around to catch every spill. Instead, they will be able to play independently, which is great for you too, mama!
Plenty of open space and opportunity for movement are hallmarks of Montessori spaces, especially for young children. Of course, a playroom at home may be limited in space, but try to include some open space and gross motor opportunity wherever possible.
This may mean offering fewer toys at a time, but it will allow your child to move freely, dance, and develop their growing muscles. Include some movement-based toys as well. Possibilities include yoga cards (try offering only a few at a time for young children), river stones for balancing, or a couple of baskets with some beanbags so your child can practice throwing in a controlled way inside.
5. Quiet space
Just as children need plenty of opportunities for big movement and big energy, they need and crave cozy little spaces for quiet activities, too.
Create a little reading nook with a comfy pillow or a small rocking chair and a limited selection of books that you rotate. Try to make the space cozy and beautiful by including some artwork hung at your child's level, placing the nook near a window, and including little details like a potted plant or soft rug.
Try including a small shelf with a few peaceful, centering activities like a music box or finger labrynth. Help your child recognize when they might benefit from one of these calming activities and watch as they begin to seek them out on their own.
The design of your child's play space has such an impact on the nature of their play. By intentionally creating a simple, beautiful space for them, you are supporting their ability to concentrate, play independently and truly enjoy the toys they have.
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