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Creating a more Montessori friendly environment at home

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

So now that I've started to learn more about Montessori & have seen my son's classroom a few times, I'm inspired to make our home more Montessori-friendly. 


Primarily, I want to downsize the amount of stuff (toys & books) that DS has in his room & other areas of the home. We aren't a minimalist household, but we have a small apartment & we aim to under-consume. Still it seems that DS has a ton of toys & somehow none of them are really the types of imagination-supportive toys that I imagined we'd have around the house. DS loves trucks & trains---Any occasion & people (good-naturedly) indulge him on this & as a result, his imaginative play almost completely revolves around construction, trains (Thomas) & firefighters. He has amassed a huge collection of books on these subjects.


We are going to re-do his room this weekend & I think it is our chance to create a more whimsical & simplified environment for him. My question is (though I think I know the answer...) do we just yank off the band-aid & downsize dramatically without gradually scaling back? I'm actually thinking of ditching his book shelf & only leaving 10 story books maximum in his room (maybe finding a home for 10 more activity or action books somewhere else in the house) & clearing out some of the truck toys to make room for more open-ended play material.


Also, am I just being ridiculous? I always sort of imagined our home being Waldorf in spirit (while sending him to Montessori school) but with working full time & not being crafty that just isn't the way it's ended up. I rely pretty heavily on 'real-world' toys & play.


DS is 3. Will he totally revolt? I'm just tired of playing construction or firefighters every night & weekend. But maybe I just need to make peace with my LO. (Though sometimes I get the feeling that HE'S bored & would play at something else if his lazy parents would just come up with something different!)


Has anyone else radically Montessori-ized their home? (Sorry if there's been discussion on this before... I just didn't have the time to search). I don't want our house to mimic the classroom (he gets that at school) but I do like the spirit of simplicity & accessibility I get from reading about Montessori.

post #2 of 15

For me, Montessori-izing my home wasn't like what you described.  I followed the principles in the book "At Home with Montessori" (short and cheap, but wonderful) and it really changed everything for us... but not in the ways you described.  And yet, my then-4yo's behavior at home RADICALLY changed (for the better).


If you want to move forward with your plan, though, I might recommend that you put all his things in a bin in the basement or attic so that if he DOES revolt (every kid is different)--you have them right there.


And yeah... the stuff they do ad nauseum gets old.  For us.  Mine is turning 9yo in January and even if I removed all the things in his room, he'd find a way to recreate his characters and props with whatever he can find.  Go with it.  Let him get it out of his system. upsidedown.gif

post #3 of 15

our daughter is starting montessori casa half days next week. ive starting looking into this at home stuff.. we already minimize battery operated toys (she has one- a cash register and no other battery toys) and we also avoid plastic toys. most of her toys are wooden or fabric. we have a lots of imaginative play toys such as the grimms wooden toys (rainbow, bowls etc) from germany

we arent going to completely transform our living space to montessori themed, it is alreay enough naturally.. we dont have a lot of 'stuff' and are picky about it anyways.


for example, they say to have a mattress on the floor. we do in our room, as we co sleep, but recently our daughter starting sleeping in her own room until 4-6 am ish and coming into our room. she has a mattress on a beautiful bed frame which she loves. its mostly for purpose, as we need under the bed space for roll out wooden 'drawers' as we have a small home and utilize any space we can.


i think if you integrate some montessori into your home that is fine, i dont think you need to be one side or the other, just do what you can, or what you think is best. for example, we integrate a lot of waldorf themes into our home as well.


cheers. i have no idea if this helped or not. sorry if im off base :)

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input Heather & Maybe!

Ack! Heather, I still haven't gotten a hold of At Home With Montessori! I couldn't find it at the library & then I forgot about this thread until Maybe posted. Well, he still hasn't gotten it all out of his system but he's been so into building & his own stories that we're still just rolling with it. Plus we did a major purge before Christmas & so it's feeling better.

Maybe, those Grimm's toys are beautiful! I hope the Casa goes well for your daughter! I understand needing the space underneath the bed! We're in the same boat, but I don't sweat it either.

We did make other changes to DS's bedroom though. We found a child-seized dresser (actually shelving with bins from IKEA) that is child-sized so that he can dress himself in the morning. Also moved his bookshelf into his closet so that there are fewer books to choose from at any moment.

I'm most happy though because we added a small shelf to the kitchen where he can keep his own kitchenware & our napkins so that he can set the table himself & take care of his things. He loves it & after I set it up he reorganized it himself. smile.gif We're still working on finding the right mix of toys & activities but like you both suggested, it's not all or nothing.

Thanks for the ideas!
post #5 of 15
We are in the same boat. Working full time & our house doesn't reflect at all what we wanted it to. I hope more ideas are posted.

Sent from my phone using Tapatalk, please ignore typos.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Neonalee, I'm accepting that it needs to be baby steps. We've been making small, incremental changes to DS's room & our shared living space.

When I wrote my original post I had this idea in my head that we would just redo DS's room in one weekend! Yeah right! Just trekking to IKEA or thrif stores practically takes up a whole weekend! So I've accepted that we can only do so much & I'm learning to tame my expectations. I also work full time & my energy is easily zapped. Plus playing & cooking also take up a lot of time & are usually higher priorities.

Also looking forward to hearing more from others.
post #7 of 15
Originally Posted by t2009 View Post


Also, am I just being ridiculous? I always sort of imagined our home being Waldorf in spirit (while sending him to Montessori school) but with working full time & not being crafty that just isn't the way it's ended up. I rely pretty heavily on 'real-world' toys & play.



You are so me!! Except for the working full-time part, I work at home on a very part-time basis. 


Making a home a Montessori environment carries into the entire house, not just the bedroom! Here are a few things we have done over the years to make our home more kid-centered (with links!):


- Bought a hanging clothing rod for DD's closet. I put complete outfits on it (that we pick together), so she can reach them and get dressed in the morning. I keep a few unmatched stuff on the rod to so she can coordinate her own outfits when she feels like it. 

- We have a lazy susan in a lower corner cabinet in our kitchen. This is where I set up all of DD's cups, plates, bowls, etc so she can reach them herself. When she was 3, we switched to real dishware, I bought inexpensive white square plates and bowls from World Market, and small juice glasses from Crate and Barrel. She has yet to break one of them in 2 years, and always handles them carefully. Even if one would break, it is not that expensive to replace.

- Stools! And if you can afford it, a Learning Tower.


DD's playroom has Ikea Expedit shelves, two of the 2 x 4 ones laid on their side. This way everything was/is in her reach. We use baskets to sort things. The importance is for each item/toy to have its place, and for your DS to know where that is. Her world and US maps are hanging on another wall, but on her level, so she can see them and look at them whenever she wants. Musical instruments are in a basket on the floor. Dress-up accessories are on a small wire shelving unit between the two Expedit shelves.


In DD's bedroom, we have two bookshelves (she loves to read). On the one, I used magazine file holders to separate the books by category, again with DD's help (our categories are Early Readers, Science & Nature, Seasonal, and Picture books. She has a second sling bookshelf that I use to display a few books at a time, and rotate them on a regular basis. Other than a dollhouse and a rocking horse, all other toys are in the playroom.


I also have a small arts table set up for her in our home office. When I'm motivated, it has specific 'work' on it (DD loves this!), like lacing cards, a stamping activity, cutting work, etc. Other times it just has crayons, colored pencils, and paper. But it always has something on it, so she can draw a picture whenever she likes without having to ask me to get any of the materials for her.

post #8 of 15
Thanks for those concrete examples, that is extremely helpful! And yes, I have to remind myself baby steps or I get overwhelmed & nothing happens.

Sent from my phone using Tapatalk, please ignore typos.
post #9 of 15

We have been somewhat Montessori from the start and have or did many of the things that nyssaneala mentioned. To save money or if you aren't near an IKEA Target has a shelving system similar to the expedit.  Small tables for them to do work, crafts, play at are important.  I got a nice, large (like PB Kids) one at an estate sale for $25 including 2 chairs!  That is set up in our family room for her arts and crafts, writing, cutting etc.  I have a large expedit like shelf next to it to hold everything.  Because she has always had access to everything I don't ever worry about her getting in to something she shouldn't be while I'm in the shower or anything.  I received a smaller table and chairs from a friend of a friend and that is in her playroom (we co sleep, she doesn't have a bedroom).  There is a "cheaper" and smaller version of the Learning tower if you are intersted in one, I found mine on craigslist for $65.




I agree stools everywhere are important.  I leave this in one of my bathrooms for her, it is very sturdy and not horrible to look at/work around.




Also, so they can reach light switches




We run the gamet on toys and what we have that I am proud to say we do and what I cringe at but even having done this for years we are in need of a "go through the play room day" every so often including now, which I told her is happening this week.


I think more than anything - set up, toys, books and furniture - a parents attitude is the most important aspect of supporting their Montessori education at home.  If children are curious and ask to do things like house work or cooking most parents automatically say no if something seeems dangerous or too old for them but it is so important to say "yes, let me teach you how!"  You'll get there on the toys and books and that gets easier as they get just a little bit older too!


Now I am resisting the urge for a late night play room purge :)

post #10 of 15

I have just started doing research into Montessori principles, and how they can be applied at home. I want to support the "I can do it myself" and "Can I help?" attitude of my toddler and allow him to learn and make discoveries. I really enjoy looking at Montessori-at-home blogs and books for inspiration regarding how we can support that through our space design, but I find myself frustrated by how little space we have in our one-bedroom apartment. I don't know our square footage, but I'm guessing it's around 600. Our son does not have his own room or playroom or closet -- or bed (yet). We have three closets and a crawl space for storage (all full). I'm working on de-cluttering, but we really don't have room for lots of low shelves with just a few items housed on them. We don't even have a bathtub in our tiny bathroom, let alone counter space for child-sized grooming supplies. I set up a pitcher and glass on a shelf in our kitchen yesterday, then realized that any time he spills the water will end up on and under my cookbooks. I can really relate to those of you who need the space under any beds! We definitely do, too.


Thanks for the reminders that baby steps are okay, and that it's not "all or nothing." I think I tend to be an "all or nothing" type of person, so that was good for me to read.

post #11 of 15
OP, reading book has helped me immensely. And the montessori mom blogs. I am not crafty at all, can't invent stuff on the fly. The only thing that I did naturally was have a almost battery free, gadget free kind of home, but that's before I knew Montessori's essense. I would strongly support the recommendation above that take all the toys and put in basement. Research( yes it takes time to put the extra effort:( ) and pick ten open-ended toys. My DS is 3 too, and what we have out on shelves are, magnatiles, legos, melissa doug clock puzzle, a variety of bins and small objects and variety of spoons, nestings/stacking (3 ft tall ones) cubes etc. I hope it gives you some idea.

Its hard to break free of the battery operted easy toys, and atleast for me, definitely takes more effort , energy, research into making this work. I used tomwork full time, I don't now, so take it easy and cut yourself slack:)
post #12 of 15
I'm sorry to completely hijack this post but it seems so very close to what I was going ask it didn't seem worth starting a new thread. This is actually my first time posting after many months of lurking. I just recently came across Montessori and have been trying to implement it at home as best I can with the limited space and budget I have to work with. My biggest problem seems to be getting the kids on board - I have a rather lazy 4 year old who refuses to do anything for himself so any suggestion of learning to do things for himself is met with 'oh I don't need to do that'. I also have a very active and destructive 18 month old and any say sorting or matching activity gets thrown around the room. Any suggestions on where I should be starting? Perhaps I should say they do/will go to a regular nursery here in the UK.

Thanks in advance!
post #13 of 15
subbing, I don't even have kids yet but I'm really interested in this smile.gif
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by kerry37 View Post

... My biggest problem seems to be getting the kids on board - I have a rather lazy 4 year old who refuses to do anything for himself so any suggestion of learning to do things for himself is met with 'oh I don't need to do that'. I also have a very active and destructive 18 month old and any say sorting or matching activity gets thrown around the room. Any suggestions on where I should be starting? ...

Kerry, my now 4 yo goes through phases. Sometimes it seems he can't play by himself, let alone do more practical things around the house. We have given him 3 chores (empty out tiny recycle bin, start the dishwasher & wipe down the table after dinner) to help instill that he has obligations at home. Doesn't always happen. But we always ask him to help up around the house & jump on it when he accepts. But we don't push it & sometimes he just needs us more. Also sometimes DS (who can totally get himself dressed & brush his teeth) will just insist that we do it for him. I think it's a developmental thing. So my suggestion would be to keep offering opportunities for independence & engagement.

Shanny, I tried to pull quotes from your reply but didn't work. I also think the expedit-type shelves are great. DS's room is too small for them so we have a grown up looking one in our shared living space & he has toys in there.

I'm also more comfortable with our selection of toys. We have no more battery stuff, but still heavy on the plastic (trucks, mostly). He still loves his wooden blocks though & his wooden train track - those two things he has played with in different ways for years now!

We have a fairly strict policy that if something's not fitting in the shelves, he needs to put something in storage. Now to get from storage to out the door...

But I think what you said, Shanny about attitude is really important. We never did the learning tower but have always found ways for DS to safely help in the kitchen & with other housework. That includes using all super-green cleaners so that he can do real work with us. If he asks, we find a way to include him.

Neuromancer, can you set the pitcher in the fridge? Then your LO can pour on the ground? Some of these blogs are beautiful but have lots of space - definitely a challenge to adapt those ideas! Good luck!
post #15 of 15

Montessori has reached Project Gutenberg, so it's free.

The Montessori Method, by Maria Montessori

Montessori Elementary Materials, by Maria Montessori


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