What if the environment and the ambiance at home had the power tosoothe our children and of stimulate their curiosity and their cognitive abilities ? And if the organization of our spaces allowed them to be stimulate for learn and discover the world ? This is the whole point of creating at home a “Montessori atmosphere”. But what is really behind these terms? How to set it up at home? I leave the floor to my friend Caroline, mother of Sid, 14 years old, Noah, 8 years old and Isis, 5 years old who offers us 5 tips to set up the Montessori atmosphere at home.
Creating a Montessori atmosphere at home: a key to developing potential
It is through his environment that the child awakens and builds itself. The organization of space is a real subject of reflection in Montessori schools. Spaces are designed according to age children and depending on the activities. Students can thus take ownership of their environment and evolve according to their desires to learn (also called sensitive periods), often guided by the Montessori educator. In the environment of 3-6 year olds, we will find for example the area of the practical life, the area of the sensory life, the area of mathematics and the area of language.
The layout of the house therefore has a role to play in the development of the child. Spaces are often defined for their uses, for example: the bedroom for playing and sleeping; the kitchen to prepare the meal and possibly eat; the living room to relax, share, read, play; the bathroom to wash and take care of your body, etc. (Of course, you can also play in the living room 😉). Our children identify areas very well and what they can find there. It will not be a question here of making the list of essential purchases of all the Montessori teaching material (games, toys, activities, rough letters, etc.). Admittedly, it is very rich and interesting, but it is above all dedicated to helping our children learn everyday life. That’s good ! Home is full of everyday life 😉! Finally, if we organize ourselves to give them access.
To promote awakening, here are 5 tips for arranging our interiors by responding to the principles of Montessori pedagogy: help our child to do it alone.
Tip n ° 1: a tidy space to promote creativity
Give landmarks in space
It may sound a little silly. But it is so true! Providing our children with a clean, tidy and organized home allows them to find your bearings to move around, empower yourself and understand space. This is partly what the Montessori atmosphere offers.
We can of course try to organize a structured framework at home that promotes mobility and autonomy, but we cannot always push the walls. On the other hand, we can make sure that each part is cleaned, bright and pleasant. The light colored walls are not overloaded with paintings and other posters. The shelves highlight books, games or objects without spilling over on either side. An open and peaceful environment stimulates creativity, by offering in a calm and serene space. (See also the Montessori at home: 3 keys to get started!)
Allow the child to do it alone
Have you noticed how children need rituals and habits? By organizing the place of everything, this allows them to find alone Soft toy or pajamas in a specific place, but alsolearn to put it back in its place ! What about us? No need to help him look for or go after him systematically. And if it doesn’t always work 😉, it offers the advantage of being a lot faster to store.
Less object to gain value
In Montessori environments, you rarely see a mountain of piled up objects! Avoiding the overabundance of objects, toys and other odds and ends also allows our little ones to recognize value : we will be more careful if we only have 3 small cars rather than a full box!
The idea is not to have a lot of things, but rather quality, useful items that are organized in an organized way to encourage use.
By the way, if you are interested in the Montessori method and want to try out activities, print cute and funny Montessori-style printables (= files to print 😉), discover a great storage method or simply better understand the teaching principles, do not hesitate to enter your email below, we will then send you (free of charge) the “MONTESSORI PACK” with all our advice and tips to gently apply the Montessori method at home!
Tip 2: a suitable space to gain autonomy
To help them be more and more autonomous in their daily life, they must be allowed tolearn to do it alone, taking into account the different stages of child development of course.
Hang up a coat rack that they can reach, install a drawer that they can open, give access to the clothes closet… All of this will allow them little by little to gain autonomy.
Let us try to favor material at the height of the child. In their bedroom, chair and desk can be at their height. And in the common areas, we adapt: a step in front of the bathroom sink for washing hands; at the common table, we can favor the scalable high chair for example. Very quickly, the child will be able to go up there alone.
It is ultimately so much easier and more restful to act on the environment rather than on the children.
We will also try to promote learning rather than prohibitions.
My son Noah has this incredible need to understand why. It drove me crazy for a long time (and it continues sometimes, I admit 😉)! If I forbade him something, I could be sure I would find him doing it, a smirk of satisfaction. It took me a few years to figure this out (Well, let’s say 7, he’s 8 😉)! Now, if I think it is dangerous to climb the ladder, I explain to him, and above all, I accompany him so that he can understand how to install it, feel the imbalance, etc.
Leave everyday objects available
The Montessori atmosphere goes through free access to everyday objects. By making everyday utensils available, the child will gradually develop his motor skills. Thus, bowl, cup, glass, carafe (…) will be placed within easy reach and he will be able to grab it according to his needs. Learning to use a glass of water is a challenge: you have to understand how the carafe is filled in order to gauge the force to be put into it, manage the flow of water in the receptacle, prevent the glass from tipping …
And so, of course, sponge, broom and mop, adapted to the size of the child will also be accessible.
Tip n ° 3: the Montessori atmosphere also goes through the human connection
“The child is a fire to be kindled, not a vase to be filled!” wrote Rabelais. And this is the role of the guide / educator in Montessori pedagogy. Our role as adults is to stimulate creativity and reflection by trying to avoid judging or forbidding (except in danger of course). It is the experiences that are offered to them that promote the emergence of their innate potential.
By allowing him to move around independently in his environment, the child will want to do with us. Let’s help him. Let’s leave him. (See also the article Applying Montessori pedagogy at home: the key principle)
Yes, it takes longer to peel a carrot when you are 3 years old! And besides, we’re tired, it’s late, we want to eat quickly. But handing the vegetable peeler to our Loulou makes him feel useful. By being connected and doing together, it fills his reservoir of attention. In the process, he learns coordination (holding the carrot, pushing the utensil away). Of course, we will have took the time to break down the movement and to explain to him that the gesture starts from oneself towards the void in front. And by the way, he will not have asked us all this time to take care of him 😉. It’s all a winner! (Ah yes, and it does not matter if the carrot is not finally peeled as well as if we had done it ourselves!)
Children can learn on their own, but they need to be shown the way. The more a child is reassured in the relationship with his parent, the more he will be able to gain autonomy.
Tip n ° 4: suitable equipment (but not too much)
Of course, Montessori material is always precious and specifically studied to help them develop their skills and abilities.
For example, the clothing frame allows you to learn to button, unbutton, zipper, use press studs … and without having the pressure at the start, the watch in hand … But make available some old clothes, possibly stretched in a frame drum for example can do the trick very well.
Many everyday objects can be a source of learning. In short, there is no need to target expensive Montessori games to develop education.
The “battery change” operation presented in a other article allows you to develop thinking and refine the screwing – unscrewing gestures.
I remember that at my children’s nursery, it was a party when the educators went out the “Widgets Box”. Inside, the little ones discovered all kinds of bottles, jars, shampoo bottles and other everyday containers (duly cleaned of course). So many shapes, colors and smells to stimulate little explorers. The top of sensory awakening! This bottle uses a pump, this jar is screwed on, this box clips on… An infinite wealth to develop fine motor skills. and in addition, each has different smells. Something to awaken the 5 senses.
Tip 5: let the child learn from his mistakes and self-correct
In Montessori schools, we often find small glass vases decorating the tables. This allows to bring some nature back into space, but not only. It is also a way for children to understand that they are not in an area where one can run or hustle. And if, by passing too close, a student drops the vase and breaks it, he will have learned. He can then go and get a brush and a shovel or a small mop to clean up and “fix his stupidity”. Of course, we don’t have to balance the Ming vase inherited from Grandma, but let’s try to give them the time (and the right) to learn.
You don’t learn to walk without having stumbled, you don’t start running without falling … Every achievement goes through trials, and therefore through mistakes. Let’s try to keep this look at the “accidents of life” and make our motto of Nelson Mandela “I never lose. Either I win or I learn. “