5 ways you can set up a Montessori home environment
Montessori home environment
Some simple ways you can set up a successful Montessori home environment using beautiful furniture to optimise your child’s capacity for happiness and learning.
The Montessori Method is an educational approach first developed by Italian physicist Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. Based on the principle of creating an optimised environment for children’s learning, the method emphasises the importance of a prepared, safe and visually pleasing setting to encourage children’s autonomy and innate desire to learn.
How can I create a Montessori home environment in my own home?
Furniture plays a vital role in creating a successful Montessori home environment.
After all, children spend most of their early years interacting with furniture of some kind – whether that’s sleeping in their cot for 10 hours or more, eating at a table in their high-chair, or doing arts and crafts at their desk. As such, it is the quality of this furniture and the materials it is made from, which really makes a difference in preparing a child for a positive, healthy future.
“The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.”
– Maria Montessori
Below, we discuss five key principles to keep in mind when trying to make your home more Montessori-friendly for your family…
1. Choose furniture which prioritises their WELLBEING
Furniture, décor and toys should be selected not only for their aesthetic and quality, but, where possible, for their ability to promote children’s health and wellness. An example of this would be selecting items made from natural, non-toxic and healthful materials, such as Japanese cypress (“hinoki”) wood.
Hinoki emits a pleasant, fresh aroma, which is rich in phytoncides – natural compounds known for their relaxation and immune-boosting properties. Hinoki’s aroma has a range of health and wellness benefits, from promoting good sleep, to purifying the air and absorbing any harmful toxins like formaldehyde. It’s antibacterial too! Read more about hinoki’s benefits here.
2. Consider SAFETY
A successfully prepared Montessori home environment will allow a child to explore freely and independently, without risk of harming themselves. This stimulates children’s natural curiosity, as they like to interact with furniture in unique and varying ways.
One way to optimise safety is through the use of ergonomically designed furniture.
Choose practical, comfortable designs, which are specifically tailored to children’s needs. Montessori shelves are a great investment as they are designed at children’s eye level, meaning they can easily and safely access their belongings by themselves.
Most importantly, opt for furniture with rounded corners and smooth edges, as well as natural, non-toxic materials to promote a healthy environment.
3. Opt for the best QUALITY that you can
During their early years, children absorb everything that is happening around them – and at an extraordinary rate. Maria Montessori referred to this as the ‘powerful unconscious absorbent mind’. Alongside experiences, a child’s environment shapes them into who they will become as adults. It is important, then, that the place they spend the most time – the family home – is finished to the highest quality possible.
If you’re on a budget, however, do not worry. Good quality does not necessarily mean spending more. For example, consider investing in “growing” Montessori shelves or “growing” Montessori tables and chairs for versatile furniture pieces which can be adapted as your child grows, saving you money in the long run.
With the Montessori approach, less is definitely more, so it is better to buy a few high quality items and to have a minimally furnished space, than it is to fill a room with a lot of furniture of a lesser quality.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of BEAUTY
Maria Montessori believed that a child’s belongings and surroundings must be beautiful, in order to trigger feelings of joy, love and inspiration.
“The child should love everything he learns. Whatever is presented to him must be made beautiful and clear. Once this love has been kindled, all problems confronting the educationalist will disappear.”
– Maria Montessori
Aesthetics should therefore not be overlooked when designing a Montessori inspired room. Opt for beautifully designed Montessori furniture, harmonious colour schemes, and, ideally, uncluttered rooms that are spacious and with plenty of natural light.
5. A WELL-PREPARED environment
“To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to
– Maria Montessori
One of the most important principles of the Montessori Method centres around the idea of fostering children’s independence and autonomy. As parents, we must prepare the environment appropriately (using the guiding values of wellbeing, safety, quality and beauty, as listed above), allowing our children to explore their surroundings freely, whilst stimulating their curiosity.
A good way to create a well-prepared Montessori home environment is to only use child-friendly, safe furniture within your home to allow for unassisted activities and play. For example, a special Montessori chair or stool kept in a hallway or their bedroom will allow children to put their own shoes on without any assistance.
Additionally, keep furniture and belongings to a minimum to maintain peace and order, and make sure there are a variety of educational toys and resources available that they can easily access.
Children are influenced by their environment as they grow up - particularly during the first three years of their life, a period which Maria Montessori described as “unequalled in intensity and importance by any period that precedes or follows in the whole life of the child”. As children spend so much time at home during this period, the home environment – and the furniture and décor within it – has a profound effect in shaping the child.
Ultimately, surrounding children with chaos, clutter or poor quality products will lead to an internalisation of these negative qualities. Provide them with calmness, order and quality, however, and they will be better equipped for a happier, healthier future.
To support children’s development and enhance their capacity for learning, furniture and room design should be tailored to meet children’s unique needs, whilst also promoting health, creativity, education and independence.
It is also important that the furniture we choose is as cutting-edge as possible. Maria Montessori, herself, spoke of the importance of evolution, and sought to improve (or “evolve”) her classrooms as technology progressed and our understanding of science deepened. If there are better technologies, materials or designs out there that we can utilise to improve our children’s experience, we should be harnessing them – and that’s what we aim to do here at Aromon. Explore our range of progressive hinoki Montessori furniture here.
We hope this has given you some inspiration to create your own beautiful Montessori home environment! Feel free to send us photographs of your own Montessori home spaces and we might feature them on our social media and/or blog.