Monday, 23 March 2020

Our Montessori home tour



I decided it was finally time for a “Montessori” home tour!

I am a Montessori kid myself and recently purchased The Montessori Toddler book to refresh my memory and apply the Montessori theory in my own home to help me lead and support Arlo. Hopefully this will help give you a visual of our home and how I have set up Montessori spaces for Arlo. I have tried to include links to all the furniture and materials I am often asked about. 

One of the beautiful things about Montessori is that it is so much more than a type of education, it's a way of seeing and being with children. Even if your child does not go to Montessori school, you can easily bring the ideas into your home and watch your child’s independence and concentration grow. While we don’t strictly follow Montessori principles, I am inspired by the philosophy, especially for the younger years. 

It’s always been important that our whole home is child friendly and that Arlo has free access to wherever he wants to go turning our whole house into a “yes space”. A “yes space” is simply a space where you don’t feel like you have to always be saying “no”, “don’t touch” and “don’t climb” to your children. I find that if you do this in your home it allows everyone to feel more relaxed. Your children are free to touch, explore, move, climb, and look after their own needs, and you feel more at ease knowing they are unlikely to do serious damage to anything, including themselves. You’ll notice each of the Arlo’s spaces offer opportunities for independence. 


LIVING ROOM

The living room is the hub of our home. We have an open plan living area and kitchen. We don’t need a separate “playroom” for Arlo because we spend most of our time in the living room, and he wants to be where we are. I find it easier and more cosy to “coexist” here by making it accessible and welcoming for all of us. With our open floor plan, I can keep an eye on him in the living room from the kitchen. This set-up provides us a nice balance of togetherness and independence. 


We use the Ikea Kellax shelves to display his toys. This shelving is very accessible and encourages independent play by allowing him to grab toys at his own level to play with. I rotate his toys and materials weekly. The benefits are numerous and wide-ranging. It keep’s Arlo engaged and interested since they change weekly and he's not overcome with a huge selection. Each week is like getting a new set of toys! Having fewer toys also makes cleaning up easier. I organise the toys in an orderly way and often use trays and baskets to show what belongs together. This helps Arlo to focus and easily find what he wants to play with rather than emptying out a huge toy bin searching for a toy and it also encourages him to put toys away himself. As the Montessori saying goes, “Everything in its place and a place for everything”. I store all of Arlo’s’ toys in two big storage boxes in a cupboard. He actually doesn't have a lot. It just seems that way because we rotate them. When Arlo isn't using a toy, we can put it away for a couple of weeks and then get it out again to renew his interest in it.


I also keep his Pikler Triangle in our living room. While they can be an expensive purchase, this is one of the best buys we ever made. Arlo loves it and uses it daily. The Pikler Triangle is simply a fancy name for a baby gym. It's a foldable triangle where a child can satisfy their climbing needs, develop gross motor skills, physical strength and agility, encouraging free movement and free play. In short all babies want to climb, and it’s usually not safe to climb on furniture etc, so the Pikler Tirangle offers them safe ways to do it. The Pikler Triangle is supported by Montessori and regularly found in Montessori inspired places.


KITCHEN

I set up this drinking station in our kitchen so that Arlo could start to pour his own drinks of water. I brought this little shelf unit from The Warehouse to hold Arlo’s drinking glasses along with a basket of cloths to help clean up spills. Then I added a drink dispenser on top. This simple setup has given Arlo a sense of independence and accomplishment, and I love to see his smiling, proud face when he has poured himself a glass of cool water.


A Learning Tower or Kitchen Helper is often recommended to young Montessori families. Arlo received The Arc Assistant for his first birthday and we absolutely love it. He uses it every day allowing him to interact with us while having a snack, helping me prepare meals or even helping wash dishes in the sink. Toddlers love to be involved in what you are doing and be part of the family. Montessori in the home is all about how to prepare your environment to allow your child to be more independent in his daily life.


We eat our meals together at his Flisat Table from Ikea. He started climbing into the chair himself around his first birthday. I also love this table because we use it for art and sensory play. The Flisat Table has a removeable tabletop with bins underneath which is perfect for water play, arts and crafts and sensory play.


BATHROOM

In the bathroom we have a step stool so he can reach the sink to wash his hands and brush his teeth along with seeing the mirror for brushing his hair. He also has his own bamboo shelves with everything he needs for self care that he can reach himself. We included a bamboo holder to hold his toothbrush and toothpaste, a basket with his hair brushes and combs and a basket with his Little Dragons body wash, lotion and baby balm and oil. He knows his routine at night and helps me put his oil in his bath each evening. He loves to be independent and grab his own items as he needs them. He thinks it’s so cool, copying us as we are getting ready. If he sees us brushing our hair he will grab his own hair brush and climb his step stool to see in the mirror and brush his hair too. Monkey see, Monkey do!


BEDROOM

In Arlo’s bedroom I have set up a dressing area for his shoes and coats. It Includes a small chair for sitting on when putting on his shoes, a basket for socks and shoes and some low hanging hooks for backpacks and coats.


We also use a Montessori house bed. We actually never used or brought a cot for Arlo. The first six months, we used a Snuzpod in our bedroom along with a Sleepyhead pod to co-sleep safely with him. I previously shared these two items on my “FAVOURITE BABY PRODUCTS” blog post. There are so many reasons we love the house bed. One of the many worries you have as a parent is your child rolling out of bed. This is something you don’t have to stress about with a house bed! What we love the most is that Arlo has the freedom of movement, and can move independently around his carefully considered child proof room. This is why we ultimately decided not to use a cot because we felt it restricted movement and limited his independence. Instead of crying from their cot, or becoming upset because they can’t get down from their bed, the house bed enables them to explore and embrace their individuality. Arlo has the biggest grin on his face when he crawls out of his house bed and comes to find me in the living room or our bedroom when he wakes up.


These spaces are always evolving and changing as Arlo grows older. The next thing I want to add to his space is his own little cleaning set as he is always watching me clean and wants to get involved. I want to get him his own set so he can actively do this for himself. I find kids thrive when they are given choice, freedom of movement, and autonomy to “do it myself”. By setting up a home with accessibility and autonomy in mind, children feel confident, joyful, and respected. 

I hope this peek into our home gives you a few ideas to help your child feel more confident and independent too! 

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