These days there are a multitude of different approaches to raising children. One that has stood the test of time? The Montessori Method. It is a well known philosophy, developed by the first Italian female doctor, that focuses on the whole child and promoting independence from a young age. The approach encourages creativity, curiosity, and fosters an environment of exploration and investigation. If you were to visit a Montessori classroom, you’d see a beautiful space, with intimate lighting, lots of natural elements and simple decor. The room is not overrun with toys, but has items that have been thoughtfully assembled to encourage and support children’s learning. It all sounds kind of magical and too good to be true, doesn’t it? And yet, there’s a reason this method has been adopted across continents and earned its street cred!
Now, whether your child attends a Montessori program or not, incorporating some of the same principles into your own home can be hugely beneficial. Think about it…you get a lovely decorated space and your child benefits too! And there’s no need to jump all in either. We recognize that committing to one child-rearing method may not be in the cards. Yet, a simple change or two that suits your lifestyle is all it takes to get your own Montessori inspired home. Here’s how…
Consider The Space
A Montessori environment stresses order, beauty, and simplicity. A calm and peaceful setting is paramount. A few decor choices can get your space closer to that ideal environment, like choosing neutral wall colors, dimmable lighting, and task lighting (like a sconce or table lamp in the spot they love to read), and allowing as much natural light in as possible. There should also be adequate space for a child to play, so having a large area rug to spread out on is great! Consider removing some excess furniture (like the coffee table) even if it’s just for a little while and to have more open areas.
Prepare Their Surroundings
We all spend the time and money to baby proof the home, but once your child is a toddler, consider their environment as a whole. The goal of a Montessori space is to be able to leave a room and be confident that they are safe to play and explore alone. After all, the Montessori mantra is, “Help me do it by myself.” Place toys, books, and even clothing at their eye level. Consider a small wooden table and chairs, with some low open shelving (the cornerstone of the method) and some artwork at their height so they can better appreciate it! Hang a mirror at their height so they can have fun seeing themselves while starting to develop responsibility with activities like getting dressed.
The second open shelving is mentioned, we automatically think of seeing a mess. But Montessori’s guiding principle is that children learn best in a calm and orderly environment. Consider getting rid of all the excess, having only a few toys out on the shelves at a time. You can pack up a good chunk of toys and then rotate new ones in once they start to tire of them. It’s essentially a more minimalistic approach that in turn keeps your house tidier and your child more engaged. Plus, kids tend to gravitate to only a few toys at a time and never play with everything anyway! This should also help with excess spending, too, since instead of bringing in new items constantly, you are rotating what you already have.
Natural Is Key
We all know the benefits of fresh air, playing outside and getting dirty. The Montessori method, however, does not limit nature to the outdoors. Bringing it inside is just as valuable! Allowing children to collect and display things like rocks, pinecones or seashells is a good example. Frame the flowers they pick or use that piece of driftwood in your table setting. Natural elements in your decor is also a factor. Try to incorporate different textures like cotton, wool, lots of wood or bamboo. This also applies to toys – the Montessori method aims to limit the amount of plastic the kids play with, opting for more natural elements. This might be the hardest part, what with the amount of technology available now. But even having the goal to add one wooden toy or shortening the screen time by a few minutes each day can make a difference.