Put simply, it is an education system and philosophy. Developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 20th century, Montessori is a teaching style that focuses on the child and their own learning. Children take charge of what they are learning, and rather than teaching the class, teachers act as guides to help children learn and grow at their own pace. This education system is also characterized by uninterrupted work time and embodied cognition. The Montessori work period provides children with up to 3 hours of uninterrupted work time for them to explore, engage with, and learn from materials of their own choosing. Embodied cognition is learning through the body and mind. Motor movement and engaging the senses can help children learn faster. Montessori is a holistic approach that encourages children to develop independence, life and social skills, and academic learning.
Montessori is a comprehensive system that can span from preschool up to high school, making it especially popular among parents of younger children as it provides a learning environment from as early as preschool.
The Montessori philosophy can also be applied outside of school and brought into your home. As a parent, your role is to create the ideal environment that encourages your child to make choices and drive their own learning. Such an environment means keeping everything low and easily accessible. Other then creating a child-friendly environment, Dr. Maria Montessori suggests that adults, “watch, assist, inspire, suggest, guide, explain, correct, inhibit [sic].” In other words, although children are encouraged to learn on their own, it is the role of the adult to ensure that the learning is correct and educationally effective.
In your child’s bedroom, the Montessori method suggests keeping everything child-sized and easily accessible. This includes using floor beds so that children can easily get in and out of bed themselves. Be sure that the whole bedroom is designed to be safe and child-proof, and the floor is soft or cushioned. Using a floor bed could be as simple as placing the mattress on the floor, or you could use bed frames designed to sit on the floor. For instance, this house-shaped UHOM Bedroom Twin Size Premium Wood Bed. Made from Finland Pine wood, this house-shaped bed frame is safe and easy to assemble. The rustic and simple design allows for easy decoration to match your child’s room.
Another floor bed option is the Domestic Objects Handmade Cotton Play Tent Canopy. Available in crib or twin bed size, this bed is perfect for a child transitioning from crib to bed. Handmade from 100% cotton, this tent canopy is great for sleep and play.
Wardrobes and clothes organizers in the bedroom also need to be child-sized so your child can have easy access. The Montessori method encourages kid-friendly wardrobes to teach life skills, independence, sense of self and self-expression, and responsibility within limits. An example of a child-sized wardrobe is the Kid Kraft Fashion Pretend Station. Although designed for kids to play and pretend with, this is a fully functional child-sized wardrobe with a rod for hanging clothes, a mirror, and storage shelves. Rather than just letting kids play with costumes and toys, the Montessori method encourages real-life application, ultimately letting kids store their own clothes in the wardrobe, then picking out their own outfit and dressing themselves.
Another child-wardrobe alternative is the IRIS USA Kids’ Clothing Garment Rack. At around 4 feet tall, this wooden clothes rack includes side hooks and an adjustable shelf on the bottom. Available in two wooden finishes, this functional garment rack will easily match the decor in your child’s room.
Finally, a Montessori bedroom will also include child-sized tables and chairs. Children will find the same use out of the table and chairs as adults – it will be a multi-purpose area for play and work. This is the surface your child will use to play with their puzzles, draw and create art, read, and engage in pretend and role play. A simple but sturdy option is the AmazonBasics Kids’ Solid Wood Table and 2 Chair Set. The solid wood square table comes with two matching chairs with 12” high seats. Although it will take time to assemble, the chairs have a weight capacity of 150lbs, allowing adults to also sit in them. Be aware that it may be difficult to remove crayon markings from the natural wood surface of the table, and consider adding a plastic cover if this is a concern.
A pricier, multi-function alternative is the ECR4Kids Bentwood Multipurpose Kids Table and Chair set. This is an adaptable furniture set that is designed with two seat heights, and the table can also be turned to become a bench to seat two children. A rounded design allows the chairs to slide under the table for compact storage when not used. Made from birch bentwood, these chairs are lightweight enough for your child to move them around by themselves. This set of table and two chairs will serve your child from ages 2 to 9.
The key essence of Montessori is still upheld when it comes to childrens’ toys. The toys should encourage children to experiment and learn. A key factor to consider when purchasing Montessori toys is simplicity, this rules out many of the new fancy, battery powered toys with flashing lights and loud music. Moderation in the purchase of toys is also suggested, as Montessori encourages children to learn from all aspects of life (safety permitting), it is expected that your child will not have as much time or interest to spend on toys, as they will be too engaged in doing other things. That being said, should you decide to purchase toys for your child, you may want to consider something like the Lewo Rainbow Toy. This wooden stacking toy consists of 7 different colored and shaped blocks that come together to form a rainbow. Aside from teaching colors, this toy also allows children to experiment and play around with putting together shapes. Assembling the rainbow will teach concepts of size and balance. Rest assured, the paint on this toy meets SGS standards and is non-toxic.
Once your child begins to develop fine motor skills, you might consider something like the Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads. Whilst also made of brightly colored wood pieces, this toy comes with 30 wooden beads in five different shapes, and two laces for children to string them together. Aside from practicing creativity, motor skills and lacing, these beads can also be used to learn about shapes and colors. The beads come in a fitted wooden box, and packing the beads away is also another learning opportunity. This toy is recommended for ages 3 and older due to potential choking hazard and children putting the beads in their mouths.
So now you’ve got a general idea of what Montessori is and how to bring Montessori into your home. Have you been inspired to create a different learning environment for your child? Let us know your thoughts on the Montessori method down below.