Back to the inquiring parent...I did finally mention to her that one of the key aspects of the Montessori classroom is a clean, orderly environment. She immediately understood what I was getting at, so I was able to give her some organizational tips. Here are some tips on how to get started:
- Put 75% of your child's toys in organized storage. Store toys based on age groups (0-3, 3-6, 6-9) or by theme (building materials in one labeled bin, art supplies in another).
- Place the remaining toys neatly on low shelves. IKEA has some reasonably priced shelving. Puzzles should not be stacked, they should be displayed nicely.
- Organize the playroom into little "centers" based on your child's interests. This particular little boy was very interested in pirates and dressing up at the time. I showed her how she could put a full length mirror on the wall, next to a "tree" coat rack, and some pegs hung low on the wall. She could display 6 dress-up items at a time on the pegs and all of his pirate hats on the coat rack. Any additional dress-up items should be stored away in a bin or chest.
- Rotate toys and dress-up clothes every 2-3 weeks or when interest wanes.
- The playroom should include a reading area. Invest in a bookshelf that displays books rather than a typical bookshelf where only spines are showing, such as this library panel. Place a small lamp and child-sized chair to add a warm touch. Again, rotate books often.
- Keep the area tidy with your child's help. Reinforce putting toys away immediately after use, but be sure to clean up any remaining items at night so your child can have a fresh start in the morning.
Check out how this Montessori mom organized her home for her now mobile toddler: Sew Liberated.
I think this post has inspired me to get upstairs and re-organize my kids' rooms!