So the first step of our Montessori at Home Project has been to change our environment. The first room where we made the changes was our, what we used to call, Playroom. One of the main aspect of the Montessori philosophy is to keep the environment in order and tidy , the aim of it is to obtain a calm atmosphere.
“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” Maria Montessori
For Maria Montessori, the first three years of life are precious as she called it the “Absorbent Mind”. So the home is the first place a child is going to evolve so we should try to make the most of it first. “The first phase of the child’s development goes from birth to, let us say, six years of age. At this stage the child is partly at home, partly in school. The plane of education should take both the situations into consideration.” (Maria Montessori – Four Planes of Education, p. 2)
Maria Montessori observed how children learned a language without anyone teaching them. This sparked her idea for the “absorbent mind’. For children under the age of three, there is no need to have lessons in order to learn, as they simply absorb everything in the environment by experiencing it and being part of it. It is therefore important that the environment set-up is good, nice and positive, since this is what the child will absorb whether he chooses to or not.
“It begins with a knowledge of his surroundings. How does the child assimilate his environment? He does it solely in virtue of one of those characteristics that we now know him to have. This is an intense and specialized sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence . The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind but with his life itself.” (Maria Montessori- The Absorbent Mind, p. 22)
So after looking on the internet for inspiration and reading some books and good online articles, to embrace the Montessori method, and to implement the Montessori philosophy and methodology in our home, we decided it was important to have a well-prepared environment to do so successfully.
Here are some common guidelines we have followed and that we found useful to consider when creating the Montessori environment at home. Obviously everyone’s home is unique and taste too, and every Montessori prepared environment in a home will reflect those nuances and personal preferences and that is fine. This is what makes us unique and what made children experiences their own. So although any home environment will be unique on its own, all Montessori prepared environments have the following features in common:
- attractive, orderly and clean,
- Specific spaces to store and or organize kids personal items, and in-progress projects.
- an adequate open space to easily move around and promote group time.
- easy access to Montessori materials from low shelves
- appropriate sized tables and chairs
- living plants, and why not pets to teach the child to take care of others
The Montessori prepared environment should reflect order, beauty and simplicity. A calm and peaceful setting is valued and encouraged. There is a minimum of items available and clutter. We are still working on this but everything has a place and it is clear how to restore the environment to order. We try to encourage independence in the children.
When we set up our environment at home, we tried to become as familiar as possible with every detail of the room and we took off any incomplete toys/materials, any broken items or out of function. We have selected them to make sure they stimulate the children’s interest, accommodate their physical, cognitive, and social needs and appeal to all their five senses. Plus we decided to get rid of any toys we had that did not allow children to self-correct.
We opted for the Ikea Kallax units for their storage capacity and their white finish and most of all solidity. I owned a Kallax unit for more than ten years and the shelves are in mint condition! Our walls are in white so that the materials can be the focus of the room.
We have not finished yet but you can see how it looks. We still need to declutter the shelves and the room to make it more breathable. We want to separate the playroom to the classroom. The next step will be to prepare the living room and make it more child friendly.
Just keep in mind, nothing needs to be perfect and we do it our own way and how it is more convenient for us. Montessori set up a philosophy. You don’t need specific materials, you just need to let your child lead you.
Again, I am not a Montessori teacher so I just share our journey, starting from nowhere. You will find all the informations I have gathered to help us and I hope they will help you too.