Montessori Principles in Designing Children’s Spaces
By Simone Davies
Montessori is not just an education model. It can also help you design your spaces by applying some basic principles. I have worked with many families to get the most out of their spaces and these are my top tips.
1. Less is more.
Living in Amsterdam we tend to have small homes. The best way to manage this is to have less things.
Imagine you are in a supermarket in the US and UK. There is simply too much choice. I find the whole experience quite stressful. I would rather shop in a small Albert Heijn where I have the choice of one cream cheese, one honey etc.
The same applies for children. Less toys for children mean they are not overwhelmed by too much choice, they are able to build concentration, and be creative with the few things they have.
2. View the space from your child’s perspective.
I encourage you to sit on the floor and see how your child feels in your home. Think about the following questions:
Are all the paintings and photos up high on the wall?
Could you put some at your child’s height?
Do you see lots of table legs and chairs?
Lots of cables and wires?
Powerpoints? And more powerpoints?
Can you remove some low level clutter?
And remove hazards?
Create corners in each room with furniture your child’s size?
3. Build independence into the space.
We often keep things out of children’s reach to keep things tidy, safe or we just don’t think about it. It can be very helpful to have the child’s clothes in their room where they can choose their clothes each day. Low hooks mean the child can hang up their coat and bag at the front door. A step-stool in the bathroom means they can learn to use the toilet and wash their hands by themselves. And a bed they can climb in and out of allows the child to get up and play once they wake, without having to cry out.
4. Make the space beautiful and attractive.
Use baskets and trays to keep different activities ordered. Have small plants at the child’s height that they can take care of. Have some paintings and photos at their height too. And check that all the activities are complete and not missing pieces.
5. Buy lots of storage.
Keep most of the toys in a cupboard or in storage boxes and rotate them from time to time. Toy boxes are actually difficult for children to find what they are looking for. Instead I recommend some low shelves with activities in baskets or trays instead. (See my top IKEA picks article for some suggestions).
Apply these simple principles and your spaces will be tidier, easier to keep clean, and perfectly designed for your child.
Simone Davies is the owner and directress of Jacaranda Montessori Playgroup. Along with raising two children of her own, Simone provides a Montessori environment for parents and babies as well as hosting courses and workshops.
Last modified: December 3, 2012
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