"I then came to realize that everything about a child should not only be in order, but that it should be proportioned to the child's use, and that interest and concentration arise specifically from the elimination of what is confusing and superfluous."
- Dr. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood
Dr. Montessori believed that the right environment for a child, what she referred to as the 'prepared environment', is essential for the development of their intellect, independence, and confidence.
And she doesn't mean this space needs all the right Montessori materials and furniture.
Rather, Dr. Montessori meant that the spaces where children spend most of their time in should be:
Ordered - everything has a place
Intellectually stimulating - age appropriate and interesting materials
Designed for independence - ensure their activities and materials are accessible to them
The child should be able to take ownership of their space and feel responsible for it. This is how they learn to care for their belongings and their spaces.
Try This At Home
A good exercise to do at home is to keep track of the things your child is frequently asking for.
Then, try finding a spot to keep frequently-asked-for itemsand encourage your child to get them independently.
For example: If your child is regularly asking you for snacks, could you set up a little snack cupboard or container with a daily selection of snacks - fruit, pouches, granola bars, etc, allowing them to grab a snack whenever their body is hungry.
Not only is this great for independence, it encourages children to listen to their bodies for hunger cues.
The Prepared Home Environment: Room-By-Room
The prepared kitchen:
A low drawer or cupboard with your child's table settings
A small basket for hats, mittens and other outdoor accessories
The prepared bedroom:
An area (baskets, low drawer, etc) to put a small selection of clothes that your child can access independently for self-dressing
A full length mirror and small stool or chair to assist in self-dressing
A small shelf or basket for books
Optional: a small shelf or a couple baskets for quiet toys
Optional: a floor bed
The Prepared Space in Small Homes
If you have a smaller home, condo, or apartment, you might feel like implementing Montessori is impossible. You'll never have the space for the all the open shelves, weaning table, learning tower, etc.
But really, at its core, the prepared space just needs to be child-friendly, warm, comfortable, and organized.
Your home does not need to look like a Montessori classroom. In fact, Montessori classrooms were originally designed to look like home, a home for children. The first Montessori classroom was called Casa Dei Bambini, meaning the children's house.
So don't worry about having all the right "stuff". Just the fact that you're reading about this and doing what you can to offer your child a beautiful home is enough.
Looking for more information on how to prepare the different areas of your home? Click here to check out our Youtube Channel where you'll find a playlist with videos on 'Preparing the Home Environment for Montessori'.
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