Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Montessori Home

I've been wanting to post about what we've done with our home to make it toddler and Montessori friendly for quite a while, yet I've always wanted to wait until everything is perfect. I've recently given up on that dream, knowing that I will always want a little more, and have finally found the courage to just post! I love that our home feels beautiful and cozy to us and our visitors, and that it's so functional for all of us, two adults and a toddler, all in the same main living spaces.

Before the mass of photos that are to come, here are the basics of creating a Montessori home:

Childproofing everything so that the child doesn't frequently hear "no". This allows the child freedom and confidence to explore the environment and his world without fear of being scolded. I honestly can't think of anything that at this point that we'd have to tell Tyler not to do other than a few things he enjoys climbing that we'd rather he not..

Make the child's materials and toys easy to access and reach. We've done this with several $15 bookshelves from Walmart. Baskets and trays for these items are also key. Keeping these items in the same place at all times is also important so that the child knows where to find and put away his things. Even when rotating toys, as I do often, I put them in the same center, shelf and area on the shelf. Art work should also be at a child's eye-level, their own and that of the great masters. Currently I have several photos from National Geographic or calendars that I've laminated and hung.

Provide adult materials at a children's size for the child to use and imitate you with. Gaining skills and independence in home-life is of utmost importance with Montessori, and is a whole blog in itself!

When old enough, children should put away one toy/material before using another. I feel at 17 months old Tyler is ready to start. Up until this point, resetting the toys constantly is important. If a room is cluttered with toys, it is difficult for a child to feel organized himself and to find what he needs. Children also watch us carefully and learn to put away toys on their own, which we've also found Tyler to do at times.

The child's environment should be organized, clean and beautiful. The areas shouldn't be cluttered with too many toys, as this is overwhelming to the child and rather than choosing something, they may simply walk away.


Our Living and Dining Room

This is Tyler's pretend play center. As Maria Montessori didn't believe in pretend play until a child had a firm grasp on reality, this is where our Waldorf inspiration has come into play. Some modern Montessorians believe in pretend play and some do not. We have decided that it's important.


This is the building and block center. The area is out of the way with plenty of space for building giant towers and sprawling cities that won't get knocked over by heavy traffic.

As we don't allow the television to be on in our home when Tyler is awake, this area has become a music listening center that Tyler greatly enjoys. We play music through the television/Playstation and Tyler is quite adept at using it himself. He enjoys sitting in his child-sized rocking chair to listen. There's also a container of teething toys available to him in the cabinet, as this seems a prime time to chew, as well as photo albums made for Tyler to look through.

Our family is big on going to the library for story time and to check out books. This small basket next to our  books is for Tyler's own library books.

Though most of Tyler's books are kept in his quiet room, some of the larger and favorite books are kept in a basket next to the couch. This makes it easy to snuggle on the couch and read when we're in the living room.


Music center


Large Motor Room

This room serves as a safe place for Tyler to use his large muscles and is especially great on rainy days. I've also turned it into a multi-cultural room with photos of people from many different cultures as well as world maps. Though it may seem early for maps at this age, Montessori believed that just becoming familiar with the shapes of the continents could be important. Tyler can often be found on his climber staring at the world map or up close looking and smiling at people from around the world and enjoys hearing me talk about the cultures and pointing out areas on the maps.

We took one door off of this closet to allow extra space to play. We left one door on to perhaps give him a private space to hang out and hide as he gets older.

Tent, tunnel and more maps.

Some of the cultural photos up-close. Now that I own a laminator, I will laminate these to keep them protected from little exploring hands!

The closet shelves in this room are where I keep my supplies. I am constantly attempting to organize them, yet every week I seem to add something and the task seems impossible. Perhaps public shame will move me to do something about this eye-sore! 

Our Kitchen

We don't use the eat-in area of our kitchen, which has allowed an area for Tyler's manipulatives/snack table. The shelf next to it contains table toys and a couple books that have somehow always stayed in the kitchen. I keep paper taped to the table with a few crayons at all times. When Ty is a bit older, a smock and drawing and art materials will be set on one of the shelves for access at any time he feels the urge to create.

A closer look at the table toys that are in rotation at the moment

Child-sized brooms are available for Tyler to sweep up his messes and to help us when we're doing the same. I also have a mop and duster which will join the brooms soon.

Several of the drawers have been given to Tyler for his use. One drawer contains bibs that Tyler chooses from before meals. We also have a cabinet that contains empty food boxes, tubs and spice jars for Tyler to play with and stack that isn't pictured. Cooking meals in our home isn't often an issue, as there's plenty for Ty to busy himself with if he wishes to be close to us at that time.


Tyler's Bedroom / The Quiet Room

As Tyler sleeps with us at this point, his room has become a space for quiet activities. One center contains smaller motor toys and at the moment, plenty of shape toys, which has been an interest of Ty's for quite some time. When Tyler chooses to sleep on his own, the mattress here will serve as his bed, built upon the "low-bed" theory of Montessori.

The other side of the room contains a book shelf and a mattress for comfortable reading. Pillows, cushions or a bean bag could also make a cozy spot for a child to read. Favorite books are displayed with other favorites that are out of rotation in easy access for switching on top. Other books are stored away out of sight in a closet. 

Tyler's diaper changing area. Tyler always has a choice between two characters for his diapers, which excites him and makes diaper changing less stressful. He also enjoys looking at the different types of architecture displayed on the wall.

Tyler's bottom dresser drawer contains two outfits for him to choose from every morning.

Though I'm happy with our home at the moment, there are areas and aspects which I naturally wish to change and add as Tyler becomes older. In the near future I'm hoping to add a low coat hook, a hand washing and teeth brushing station, a snack cupboard where he can choose his own snacks, cups and plates, as well as, as mentioned above, an area where his own cleaning supplies are kept. 


Updated: For a look at how our space has grown with Tyler (and moves to two different homes), check out my recent posts titled Our Montessori Home Preschool and Our New Montessori-Inspired Playroom

28 comments:

  1. Wow. You house is a wonderful for Ty. I wish we had the rooms available to offer Mya more space. We move in May and will be able to set up properly - I cant wait! I too believe pretend play is hugely important!
    Thanks for sharing, many parents will find this post useful :)

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  2. Wow, Jen . . . that's so great! I've been wondering how you do things there, and you've given me some great ideas for setting things up here. It's so overwhelming sometimes, but categorizing it the way you have makes it a bit easier. We are sorely lacking space, so I'm not sure how I'll be able to do it here, but I'm going to try to get creative. Thanks for this wonderful post!

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  3. Thank you both! We have a lot of room, so we utilize it, but it's not needed (come on, a large motor room is just a lucky bonus!). As long as you are following the main principles it can certainly be done I believe!

    Another move Darla! Wow! I hope you find the space you're looking for. The activities you do with Mya are certainly wonderful!

    Good luck Corinne! You can always message me about this stuff or anything else. I'd love to chat with you!

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  4. I saw your blog on babycenter and wanted to take a peek. wow! i am amazed at how organized your house is and love the Montessori lifestyle. I never heard of it before reading this, but now I am super interested in everything about it! thanks for sharing! :)

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  5. Thank you Liesl, and you're welcome! I love to share and find new ideas to keep me busy as a SAHM and Montessori has become a huge passion. Thanks as well for following!

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  6. Beautiful pictures and descriptions. As a certified Montessori age 3-6 teacher, I can appreciate all the hard work/planning you have put into this blog....thanks for sharing! I look forward to seeing and reading more!

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  7. Thank you for sharing this! I am loving all the ideas I get from you. I'm curious to know if you've set up the handwashing/teethbrushing station yet. My daughter just started showing a real interest in washing her hands this week, and teethbrushing is becoming a struggle, so we'll be setting this up over the weekend as well.

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  8. I wish I had Kelly. I'm afraid it's fallen down a bit on my list of things to do, as it's going to be a bit more complicated to make than I had imagined. I'd love to hear how yours goes! This has inspired me to get on that sooner than later. Thank you!

    This is Jen, blog owener by the way...having trouble commenting under my own account.

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  9. May I ask how you attach the photos to the wall? I am wanting to that for my own son (coming early August) and the best I have been able to think of so far is the sticky putty but I don't know if I should be worried that he will pull it off and eat it! Thanks in advance! I love what you have done!

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  10. Hi Sara! Thank you! I used sticky putty to hang the photos. I never had an issue with him eating it or even trying to, but he of course did like to tear the pictures off of the wall a bit when he was younger (and still now on occasion). You'll just have to see how your little guy does with it! Good luck! Ty is an August baby too. :)

    Jen [blog owner...still can't comment as myself]

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  11. What a lovely home. You have made such an appealing space for Ty.

    Smiles,
    Jody

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  12. Your Montessori-friendly home is wonderful, Jen! I love the way you've added low pictures and special places for Tyler throughout your home. And giving him opportunities to make decisions (even of his diaper character) is fantastic! I just added one of your kitchen photos and your post link to http://livingmontessorinow.com/2011/08/30/how-to-prepare-a-montessori-toddler-environment-at-home/

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  13. It's wonderful that you have so mush space to arrange everything. Do you have any suggestions on how to make a Montessori-friendly home when that is small on space and big on number of people? Ages of our kids are at home are 12, 14, 15 and then 4 and 2. Every square inch of our home is used by someone!

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    1. I am wondering this as well. Devoting entire rooms to children (or even large sections of rooms), besides their bedroom, isn't feasible for many families. What do you suggest for people living in apartments with limited space? We don't want our child to feel as though the home revolves solely around him either.

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  14. Hi,
    wonderful post. I love seeing montessori set ups at home.
    I am following for more womderful posts to come :)

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  15. I am too late commenting on this post, but just wanted to Say wow! Awesome work! I love it! Lucky boy and creative momma!

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  16. Thank you all! Our home has changed as Tyler had grown, but the same basic concepts shown in this post are still present. We should be moving within the next few months and I can't wait to design a new Montessori home! I find it quite fun. :)

    Anonymous, I'd like to help you, but I'd probably require more information to do so in any real way. Please feel free to email me at rougeurbleu@gmail.com

    Jen

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  17. Hi Jen,
    I really like how you made your place implementing Montessori ideas! Great blog, BTW! Thanks for sharing,
    PaniTanguera

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  18. Hi Jen,

    I found your blog on a Friday Follow on Twitter, where I also follow your posts. We are also a Montessori family, and we have our own blog too: http://thelittleprofessors.blogspot.com/. While we do heavily integrate Montessori, we mix in some other stuff too. Like you, I have a background in ECE and Child Development, and we plan to Homeschool from the Montessori and Reggio perspective.

    Your house looks great, and you have taken alot of care to make it very Montessori. We enjoy, and look forward to all your posts!

    -Ms Momina

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  19. HI My Name is Kelly and Aris (after Aristotle is my 2 year old son! I have fallen in LOVE with the Montessori Approach! He starts at an accredited Montessori in march- MY QUESTION Is i hope its not to late?? He is 26 months old and has been subjected to normal (chaotic) daycare (preschool) since he was 14 months old :( i have turned the house into a Montessori style) however what he is being taught in the home is not being carried over at his current school - not to worry though we are Over joyed to have found a Montessori in the county.. Back to my concern, is it too late?? I am still proceeding with the approach , im just upset i didn't start it earlier - do you think i lost too much time not implementing these ideas earlier?? THANKS A MILLION! LOVE LOVE LOVE your set up, and thanks for the great Blog! Kelly

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  20. Hi Kelly (and Aristotle!), I don't think it's too late at all! Your child wouldn't be the first to go to a typical daycare then switch over to Montessori. The fact that you do Montessori at home with him is more than most kids going into Primary have in their background! Kudos! Montessori was really developed for kids ages 3-6, so it shouldn't matter what the experiences beforehand were. Maria Montessori worked with some pretty rough, neglected kids when she started developing her philosophies and they aboslutely blossomed! I'm excited for you to have found a Montessori school! Best of luck to you both.

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  21. May I ask you the brand of you manipulatives/snack table? I'm looking for one just like that one! Thanks a lot.

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    1. Sure Su! It's Kid Kraft brand I purchased it from Amazon. We love it! I have been sitting in the chairs for over a year as well as Ty and they have held up great!

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  22. I like that toys rack, simple but exciting.

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  23. My son has (2years and 11months) just started at montessori, I am new to the concepts but am falling in love with it! I see such a difference in only a month of him going to montessori. I am not researching into bringing it into our home. But lost to know where to start, but I now have great ideas. Also beginning to implement with my 9year old which should be interesting.

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  24. Thank you very much for your blog. It will help us building a nice montessori home for her baby.

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  25. Love your house for your son. Thanks for sharing.

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