Montessori in the Home
by CH teacher Amy Williams
When you walk into a Montessori classroom, you will notice that everything is at the child’s level, organized, and orderly. Then you observe in a Montessori classroom and you see children putting their work back on the shelf where it belongs before getting another work out. The children even keep their work contained on a rug or at a table. You may walk out saying to yourself, “Why does my child do this at school, yet at home, he/she leaves everything everywhere?” Whether you are new to Montessori or a veteran, you can transform your home to be an organized, orderly environment even at your child’s developmental level without having to do major construction.
“A place for everything and everything in its place” is one of the most important principles in bringing Montessori into the home. When you create a place for everything, your child will learn where their things go, thus teaching them responsibility for their belongings and the ability to clean up their own messes.
Starting in the kitchen, set up a low shelf or drawer in the pantry with healthy non-perishable snacks that your child can access anytime. In the refrigerator, place milk or juice in a small pitcher along with healthy snack options on a low shelf that your child can access anytime. When giving your child control over his eating and his body, you are showing your child respect and helping him develop important skills such as self-regulation and understanding about good nutrition. Also, adding a step stool to the kitchen will allow your child to help in the food prep as well as with cleaning up after meals/snacks. Place real plates, cups, bowls, and silverware down on a low shelf or drawer (you can find cheap ones at Goodwill so if they break, they are easy to replace) so your child can be independent in serving themselves snacks and meals. Lastly in the kitchen, place a small broom and dustpan and a kitchen towel low so your child can independently clean up any mess he may make.
Whether you come into the house through the front door or the garage door you can provide your child a space for their things by hanging a coat rack low and placing a low shelf for their shoes and backpack. Placing a child-sized stool or chair will allow your child a place to sit to put on or take off his shoes.
In the bathroom, you can make it more accessible by adding a faucet extender, light switch extender, and a stool so he can independently take care of his needs like brushing his teeth and washing his hands. Placing a mirror and a towel rod down at his level will help him with his self-care activities like brushing his hair, drying his hands, or wiping his face after eating.
In your child’s bedroom, you can move the rod in the closet down to his level and place clothes in low drawers for easy access. Once he has access to his clothes, he can independently dress and help put his clothes away. With limiting or rotating his choice of outfits, you will ensure your child’s success in managing his own belongings. Place your child’s books in a basket on the floor for easy access. Toys can be placed in baskets or trays on a low shelf like a shoe rack which will allow your child to choose one thing at a time and helps them with cleaning up afterward. Limit the number of toys, books, and stuffed animals in your child’s space which will allow him to successfully clean up after himself. Rotating toys and books also keeps your child interested and excited about playing in their space. Finish creating a space for him by adding a low table and chair along with a small rug that he can use to put his toy on while playing.
These changes can be made one room at a time which will help bring down your stress to do it all at once but more importantly, it will give you time to role-model for your child how to use their new space. You can find additional information for integrating Montessori into the home with Tim Seldin’s book How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way and Dr. Montessori’s book The Absorbent Mind.