Montessori At Home: The Ordered Environment
Do you have a ‘big kid’ living in your home?
By ‘big kid,’ I, of course, mean a small person who cannot reach his own socks without the aid of an adult but who will insist from the minute he wakes until that precious moment he falls asleep, that he is ‘big.’ So big, in fact.
Or maybe you live with a legitimately big kid whose desire to do all the things all around the house still far exceeds her height and current capabilities.
Whichever kind of big kid you have, chances are they long to do things like fix their own breakfast, help you make dinner, and dress themselves without any assistance. And, chances are, you’re ready to let them do a little more in this very busy early-school time of year. The only hiccup in this grand plan is that your house is not set up to make this easy for anyone.
Most of us chose Brooksfield in part because we’d heard or experienced great things about Montessori. Montessori excels at creating independent, confident, self-motivated kids and when you take a moment to walk around Brooksfield, you know in your heart that this is true. But how can Montessori at home create this sort of magic?
Creating an environment that fosters Montessori at home is easier than you may think. Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a few Montessori at home principles and break down how you can achieve them with your kids in your house. And we’ll start, today, with The Ordered Environment.
The Ordered Environment refers to the idea that everything a child needs has a place that is easily accessible to them. The expectation, then, is that a child will know where to find the things that they need and, just as importantly, know where to put it when they are done.
If your toy room looks anything like mine usually does, you may be laughing right now.
Organizing the materials your child uses the most can feel like a fools errand. No sooner do you put something in its place and it is back on the floor again. But when you approach your toy room (or kitchen, or kids’ closets, or bathrooms) from the perspective of The Ordered Environment, you might be surprised at how much easier it is to keep things in their places. You will then be on your way to creating Montessori at home.
Ready to create a little order in your environment? Here are some easy places to start:
Montessori at Home Tactic Number 1: Get Low
The first step toward creating Montessori at home is to rearrange your toy room so that anything your child might need or want regularly is on a shelf he or she can reach. This includes toys, books, and school or art supplies. Set everything in it’s own place on the shelf or inside it’s own box so that your child knows where the coloring books are and can reach that spot when it’s time to clean up. Keep anything you don’t want them to have easy access to without your help (paints come to mind) on higher shelves to create Montessori at home.
Montessori at Home Tactic Number 2: Boost Up
If you haven’t already, invest in a couple of stools (we have four). Scatter them through the bathrooms (for teeth brushing and hand washing) and the kitchen (for cooking help and hand washing). When it’s time to make pizza, your child can hop up on the stool and sprinkle the cheese. And when it’s time to eat, he can climb up and wash his hands all by himself.
Montessori at Home Tactic Number 3: Eat Well
Constant requests for snacks got you down? Dedicate the bottom drawer of your pantry to snacks you’ll always approve. Store your kids’ plastic bowls and plates on a low shelf or in a low drawer. Not being responsible for pouring everyone’s snacks is a huge benefit. But watching your child beam with pride after fixing his or her snack is even better, and gets you on your way toward creating Montessori at home.
Montessori at Home Tactic Number 4: Dress Well
This one may take a bit more effort than the other tactics to create Montessori at home but is well worth it. Adjust your child’s closet so that seasonal clothes are easily reachable. This could mean installing a low bar in her closet for dresses or moving t-shirts and pants to the bottom drawers of the dresser. It also may mean going with the flow when your child appears at breakfast wearing a scarf, boots, and shorts. Allowing this sort of independence creates confidence and allows children to express their individuality.
How have you implemented The Ordered Environment to create Montessori at home?