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3 min read

Imagine living in a world where all the furniture is twice as big as you:
  • The kitchen table stands above your head
  • You need to a scale chair like a mountain, just to take a seat... and then when you do, your feet hang uncomfortably over the edge
  • In order to wash your hands, someone has to squeeze you awkwardly around the waist the whole time. You probably wouldn't want to wash your hands that often either!

This is what it feels like to be a young child.

Most of a child’s world is adult-sized and children are simply required to adapt to using adult-sized things.

BUT they can get so much more out of the world if they’re using materials and furniture that they can manage on their own.

This is why one of the most important parts of the Montessori environment is the furniture.

Dr. Montessori said, "The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult."

When a young child is able to do something on their own, like retrieve their own toys or sit at the table, it makes them feel competent, which in turn builds their confidence.

Child-sized furniture also develops a child’s sense of ownership.

This feeling of ownership helps to develop a sense of responsibility and a child's interest in caring for their environment and the things within it - ‘these are my things and I’m going to take good care of them."

The "Secret" To Montessori Furniture

The truth is that Dr. Montessori never described or developed specific furniture, the way she did many of the learning materials.

Montessori furniture is really just any furniture that is:

  • Child-sized
  • Made from natural materials (primarily wood)
  • Simple in design

So while there isn't a specific list of Montessori furniture, there are four very popular items.

Here's an example of each, what their purpose is, and what to look for if you're going to buy them.

The 4 Most Popular Kinds of Montessori Furniture

1. Weaning Table and Chair

A low, child-sized table and chair designed for young children so they can comfortably sit with their knees bent at a 90-degree angle and their feet flat on the floor.

Weaning chairs specifically have side and back support for children that are still developing their core strength, allowing children as young as 6 months to begin using them.

The goal is to provide children with a comfortable and accessible area to eat or work and develop their independence.  

2.  Floor Bed

A floor bed is simply a bed frame built just off the ground so that young children can easily get into and out of the bed on their own.

Floor beds allow for independence right from birth. The freedom of movement also encourages physical development.

It gives the child access to their entire bedroom so it should be noted that if you decide to use a floor bed, you must be prepared to child-proof the entire room.

3.  Learning Tower

A learning tower is designed to help young children safely access kitchen countertops so they can participate in practical life activities - food prep, washing dishes, hand washing, etc.

It is essentially a platform with rails or walls around the platform, and it usually has adjustable height levels to accommodate children of different ages and sizes.

It’s designed this way to keep the child safe while standing on it and allows them to have full use of their hands.

4.  Open Shelves

Montessori shelves allow children to have more independence in their play space.

Unlike traditional toy bins, open shelves allow easy access to toys and materials without overwhelming children with too many options.

They're meant to be used with trays and baskets, where each activity is organized in a tray or basket so they can be easily removed from the shelf and replaced at the end.

Not only do open shelves support independence but they also keep play spaces more organized, which appeals to a young child's sense of order.

Does it have to be beige and boring?

It's a common misconception that Montessori spaces are sad and beige.

While Montessori furniture is typically simple and neutral, the classroom materials tends to have more colour.

This is intentional because it allows children to focus on the materials, rather than the decor.

When a child approaches a plain wood shelf, they’re able to focus on the materials, rather than a rainbow (or whatever else) painted on the side of it.

Is it harmful to paint a rainbow on their shelf? No. It's more about protecting a child’s concentration.

Dr. Montessori said, "The first essential for the child's development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behaviour."

So when in doubt, keep the furniture and decor simple, allowing your child's materials, toys, and art supplies to be what they're drawn to.

This will not only encourage concentration but independent play.

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