By Elizabeth Villalobos, YCC Lead at Post Oak Montessori in Houston, TX
Setting up a Montessori-inspired play space can be simple, without the need to buy anything! A Montessori environment is designed to encourage independence and concentration.
With degrees in both interior design and Montessori, I hope to share with you how design and learning pair beautifully to create amazing (functional!) environments for toddlers.
When you put some work into the design of your child’s “environment” (work and living space), you will find that your child naturally gravitates to the space and engages with the work as intended. This short post will guide you on how to make environments more thoughtful, efficient, and caring for the children (or adults!) living in that space.
The “less is better” for your Montessori toddler space at home. This makes it easier for your child to keep the order and to remember where each object belongs.
2. Make the space soothing
The less distraction and the more soothing the place is, the higher the concentration your child will obtain.
“The child should live in an environment of beauty.” —Maria Montessori
A Montessori environment supports order by giving everything a specific spot on a shelf, not in a big toy bin full of many unrelated things. Order is calming for the toddlers because it is predictable—they know where everything belongs.
4. Include a working place
A small table with a chair or a rug to sit on is great! Working in a comfortable position helps to extend the time of concentration and the repetition.
5. Think in proportion of the child
The furniture in Montessori classrooms is child-sized and the materials are kept on low shelves so that the child can access them.
6. Include nature
Windows connect nature to the interiors. Researchers have determined that natural light influences the body’s natural mood stabilizer, which calms the body and mind. Including plants, flowers, and appreciating nature’s gifts are a good way of improving the space.
If possible, choose a room with natural light.
7. Place realistic pictures at the children’s level/height
8. A few books available and a space to rest the body
Create a place to rest the body, unwind, or calm and recover from an upsetting situation. Some examples are a big pillow, a soft rug, and a comfy chair next to a window or with a low light lamp.
9. Fewer options/toy rotation
This does not mean get rid of a bunch of toys, but you will likely want to put some away. Putting out just a few options and rotating then regularly allows your child to really focus on what is available. Every time you get one out, it will be almost like if it’s the first time they ever see it (and you save some money).
It might be helpful to think about what is easy to clean or dry if there is an accident.
But mostly, do what works for you!
I sincerely hope these few examples help improve the environment the children and adults live in. A few small changes can make a difference in each child’s wellbeing. My intent is to guide you and give you tips and ideas on how to adjust as your child grows up.