“In the child is much knowledge, much wisdom. If we do not profit from it, it is only because of neglect on our part to become humble and to see the wonder of this soul and learn what the child can teach.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Montessori is much more than an educational approach. It is a way of life. It is a miraculously beautiful way of teaching and observing how children develop their full potential. It’s a method that reveals the marvels of nature, the power, and the wisdom of a child.
And for those of you who have decided to follow the Montessori approach and raise Montessori kids, one of the first steps would be to prepare a safe environment for your child to flourish in.
You are probably wondering what you can do to prepare the environment at home so that it empowers the child but within safe limits. The prepared environment is a very important concept of the approach and you can easily start mastering it by firstly preparing your kid’s room.
So here are our 5 easy steps to begin examining the Montessori approach by creating a Montessori toddler room that will help your child in the process of exploring, learning, experimenting, and becoming an independent individual.
1. Use natural colors, visual simplicity, and natural light in your toddler’s room
Studies show that flashy colors overwhelm children. A Montessori room is to prioritize calming and peaceful environment.
In Montessori, concentration and the ability of the child to focus on his current task and action are very important. You could actually help the child become better in it by simply avoiding too many distractions and therefore, too many and too colorful objects in the room.
There should be plenty of empty spaces that will allow the child to explore and empower imagination.
Natural light is important and a huge window through which to observe the outside world would be highly appreciated by the child. Do not cover the window with heavy curtains. Leave it as it is, fully open to the marvels of nature outside: the birds that fly over, the wind that moves the branches, the dance of the leaves in windy weather, the snow that falls, the moon, and the stars.
2. Use kid’s size furniture
Curious to see how your child perceives the environment? Well, get on the floor and look around the room from his perspective, from her height. This trick could do miracles and would help you so much in the process of choosing furniture for your kid. Here are some examples:
- If the bookshelves are situated high above on the wall your child will most probably not be able to see the books and thus, would not be interested in them. If, however, visible they won’t be at children’s own reach. Thus, they will feel disappointed they cannot reach them and will need your help. If you put the shelves on a lower level the kids would be much more interested in the books and what is more, they will be able to reach out, grab a book and start exploring it without your help.
- If the wardrobe is too high your kid won’t be able to take his clothes and dress by herself. That would make the kid too reliant, too dependent on the adults. Such an environment would simply not let the child build self-confidence and achieve independence.
That is why the furniture in your toddler’s room should correspond in size to the children, so they can be free to explore, become masters of their actions and see the result of each one of them, thus learning to own their choices.
Make sure that the environment is safe so that you do not need to hinder the process with all these ‘’Do not do that!’’, ‘’Do not touch that!’’, and ‘’Do not go there!’’
“Only through freedom and environmental experience is it practically possible for human development to occur.” Dr. M. Montessori
3. Put the sleeping mattress directly on the floor
A floor bed would give so much freedom to your child even from their earliest months on.
The concept of a floor bed supports many of the Montessori principles, among which: promoting independence, freedom of movement, and empowering the child.
Once you put the bed on the floor you will need no bars that would otherwise hinder the sight. The bars would also not allow the child to get in and out of bed when needed, making the kid too dependent on you and that is definitely not the goal both in Montessori and in life, right?
Many parents worry that putting their toddlers on the floor might not be the best choice, especially during the cold winter months. For that reason, carefully consider the material the mattress is made of.
Wool, for example, is a highly insulating and temperature regulating and a wool Montessori mattress would be one of the best options to put directly on the floor. A wool filled mattress will keep your child warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
4. Avoid clutter, prioritize order, rotate books and materials
Remember visual simplicity? Well, Montessori rooms are associated with very strict order and a simple arrangement of things.
Each book, each pencil, each toy, and educational material has its own place. Well, there are no toys in Montessori classrooms, but most probably that would not be the case at home.
Order of things and sense of order is in fact another very important Montessori principle. The child should be able to find things where expected, and that would help them feel safe and secure.
Avoid using boxes and baskets full of random stuff in the room. Arrange all the materials (and toys) on the shelves so that there is a choice of activities for the child but not too much choice (that would be overwhelming). Store everything else in another room and rotate all the books, all the materials, and all the toys when you feel a change is needed.
5. Bring nature in
Have a collection of pinecones, leaves, stones, or perhaps seashells? Bring them in your toddler’s room. Arrange and classify them in small boxes and watch your child discover nature through them. Nature boxes are one of the most curious objects for any child.
Get a plant for your child to care for and observe. Watering, spraying with water, re-planting, and brushing the dust off the leaves would be all great activities. Of course, supervision would sometimes be needed, but note that the child should be aware of the consequences of not watering the flower when needed for example.
Not all plants, however, are suitable for kids and for the room where the child sleeps. Make sure to pick a non-toxic plant that is safe for the bedroom. There are some that are not only safe but also play a small part in purifying the air in the room. Snake plant, Lavender, and Peace lily would all be great choices.
After the child has mastered taking care of a plant you may go ahead and upgrade to a fish tank. 😉
Montessori is much more than a room layout, furniture design, and arrangement. There is so much to learn and master on the approach but creating a prepared environment for your child could be a pretty good start.
“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” Dr. M. Montessori