So, I apologize if my second two posts for this week are off. We’re having some issues with my disabled mother’s care service. The short version is that we have an insignificant version of a problem they had in the past and the woman who runs the office has a vendetta against my mother for refusing to go into a nursing home when my father had his storke.
Suffice it to say I’ve spent most of this week dealing with that and trying to get services reinstated while looking for another company that she and her aides (who wish to tag along and get away from these mean people) can go to. Also, due to the pest control coming out Monday I may be late (or early) on that post.
So I’m back to the Montessori kick, but today we’re talking about organizing your house (as much as possible) so that Montessori could work in your home. And no, Montessori really doesn’t have anything to do with Fung Sui, but as I thought more and more about setting up our own rooms, I realized the concepts were similar. Each is trying to set up a home to be as productive for someone (in this case our children). It just seemed fitting giving our Montessori topic this week, arranging your home for your child’s independent exploration.
As we learned last week, Montessori revolves around a few major concepts. First, she believe that there should be as much physical and intellectual freedom as possible. Second, Maria promoted the idea that the preparation of the environment has a profound effect on development and learning. And finally, that how we as a adults treat our children has a profound effect on their development.
So today we’re focusing on the second concept there. The first thing we have to do is look at the home from a child’s point of view. There are just too many things that are inaccessible to them without help. SO we have to plan for this where we can. Obviously we don’t want every room to be full accessible, but we want the rooms our children spend the most time in to be as accessible as possible.
The first step to this is to think child sized. This may be hard for many of us to do on a budget until they are around five (the age most reasonably priced child size furniture is made). Still, you can rig some things that will work in the meantime, but we’ll get to that as we go along.
The second step is to make sure that these items are in the rooms where all the action takes place. So if your child spends a lot of time with you in the kitchen and living room, then you would make those rooms as accessible as possible, in addition to her own room and bathroom. We have to make what is safe accessible while keeping our children away from harm (which of course, changes with age).
Third, we have to make sure that the space we use with her set ups meet her needs. When she is old enough to help us set the table, she has to have a place where she can reach these materials. When she goes to brush her teeth as she gets older, we have to keep what she needs in reach. Finally, we have to use what we construct to teach our children self discipline/ positive discipline instead of constantly yelling no and stop. This can be frustrating, but so far, rewarding.
Let me give you an example. Freya showed an interest in our master bathroom at a very young age. We have to keep her away from the tub and my alter (Yes I know odd place, you do what you gotta do ith limited space) and the toilet. However, we have put a child sized training toilet where she can reach it and have (in the past) kept some water in it.
IF she tries to touch the water we do correct her and close the seat, but it has helped (a little) to teach her not to put her hand in the toilet. Granted she still tries if we leave it open and knows we aren’t looking, so its still a work in progress. Also, having things at her level that she is allowed to touch has kept her from getting as upset about the things that she is not allowed to touch. We also keep some small toys in there since we have a pretty large bathroom space in there.
So let’s start looking at what we can do in rooms on a budget.
First of all is the bed. Freya does sleep in a crib at night, but for her naps, it mostly depends on where she is when she crashes. I try (if possible) to put her down for a nap in a place where she can easily get up by herself. She has a mattress on the floor in our room for this purpose and she even sleeps there some nights if mommy sleeps on the floor next her her (which I don’t mind anyway). This way as she gets older she can reach her bed to make it herself and she can get in and out of bed herself.
Montessori play and learn recommends turning this chore into a game of shaking out the comforter or quilt and laying it on the bed, they may not do it perfectly, but they learn. Freya hasn’t figured out how to lay the blanket back down on the bed, but she will grab her blanky and shake it out like I do.
Clothing is another important one here. Everything needs to be in drawers that a small child can open, shelves that they can easily reach (I think of those square units that you can stack) or hung lower where they can reach them (which has the added bonus of storage space if you rotate their toys). The book also recommends that they have picture labels, which I plan on using once Freya is a bit older. Right now all we do is occasionally let her pick which outfit she’s going to wear. We’ve learned she likes shorter dresses because she can toddle easier in them.
This will make it easier when you start teaching your child to put away their clothing. The book recommends teaching that by sorting the items yourself frist and them demonstrating the task over and over again. Most children want to do what mom is doing when they are really young, so this is a great time to get them slowly learning these skills. Of course, you can also come up with all kinds of games for this as well, like which pile is biggest or which child can put the most clothes away correctly. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve seen households where this works (which is part of the reason I want to start out with Montessori).
Other considerations for your child’s bedroom would be the flooring. I suggest wood if you plan on letting your child have a painting or craft space in their room. I also suggest wood entirely from a cleaning standpoint (so much cleaner) or even the fake wood laminate. I know we can’t do it either, but I would if I had the choice. Just make sure any other furniture you put in their room is their size or at least accessible with minimal help. Storage for toys should also be low to the ground so you child can participate in cleaning their own space up as they get older.
Finally, decoration. Keep it simple and clean. Don’t let your kids room get too cluttered. This is part of the reason we rotate toys. It saves me time cleaning and it keeps her engaged when we rotate (even though she’s already played with these toys in the past). A lot of Montessori books also recommend a mirror at ground level for the child to look in either here or in the bathroom and low hanging paintings so they aren’t craning their head to look up at whats on the walls. Any decorations should be at their level and for their benefit.
I’m going to stop here for today. Friday we’ll talk about how you can arrange some other living spaces. I hope these post are giving those of you interested in Montessori, some great ideas on how to implement it in your own home. Heck, I’m just happy to have found a book that explains more on how to use Montessori.
As a side note, I do want to reference the book I’m getting most of my info from. It is called Montessori Play and Learn by Joy Starry Turner. It’s an older book and its aimed more at toddlers, but its never too soon or late to start Montessori.
Thanks for viewing and as always,