Monday, July 19, 2010

Montessori at Home...Where to Begin?

A parent recently spoke to me about incorporating Montessori into her home.  She noticed that her child seems so calm and fulfilled in school, but at home he is wild and frustrated.  She believes her parenting beliefs are in line with the school's, so it must be something else.  Immediately, the answer to her question popped into my head, but I was fearful to tell her the truth.  I've visited her home and the children's spaces are disastrous.  Again, I was hesitant to say something to her because God knows my home is not spotless.  Ahead of her time as always, Montessori discovered that too much clutter distracted a child's mind, decreased focus, which therefore increased negative behaviors.  She deduced that children between the ages of 3 and 6 are in a Sensitive Period for order.  Simply put, children at this age enjoy orderly rooms and play areas.  You may see children at this age lining up their cars or blocks in perfectly straight rows- again, this is a way to create that sense of order.  Read more about Sensitive Periods here.

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.
Bathrooms and bedrooms are just as important to your child's behavior because these rooms help to start and end each day.  Keep the rooms as clutter-free as possible.  Books and soft toys should be arranged nicely in the bedroom.  Keep loud or musical toys in the playroom. 

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!

No comments:

Post a Comment