7 Montessori tricks to transform your child's room
Although it's an education philosophy, many parents have taken the principles of the Montessori Method and applied them at home. Guided by the idea that a child — even a very young one — flourishes if given a safe level of independence, they reimagined what a traditional nursery should look like.
While it may not be a solution for every family, the main goal of a Montessori-inspired nursery is to give more control to the toddler. It is their room after all.
Intrigued? Here are seven typical Montessori toddler room features and why they might be a good fit:
1. A floor bed
Cots are wonderful inventions and all, but they just don't fly with all toddlers. If your little guy is into them, that's great (just don't tell the other mums that he also sleeps through the night and loves broccoli). However, if your toddler would rather do some hard time at Alcatraz, it could be time to get rid of the bars.
The Montessori concept replaces the cot with a floor bed: a mattress or bed that lies flat on the floor, allowing your toddler the freedom to climb in and out as much as they want, whenever they want.
2. Expert babyproofing
Since your toddler is going to be roaming Bear Grylls-style through their room, you can't have any pesky electrical outlets, chords, sharp edges or teeny-tiny edible pieces of rat poison anywhere. Babyproofing is key to any space inhabited by a toddler, but that goes double for a Montessori toddler room. Every surface, nook and cranny must be safe and secure, and there needs to be a gate in the door, so your little one won't be tempted to check out your kitchen, living room or bathroom.
3. A low-lying mirror
Ever notice that toddlers are kind of vain? They can spend whole minutes kissing their own reflections. Luckily this is not an early sign of narcissism, but a healthy part of development and the manifestation of the "mirror stage". When admiring herself, your toddler is studying her facial expressions, movements, environment and connecting them to figure out that she's looking at her own reflection. Which is why a securely fastened, easily accessible mirror is part of the Montessori fun.
4. Reachable toys
Aside from sleeping, eating and pointing out every tree, car and dog on your way to the supermarket, playing is kind of a big deal in your toddler's world. In fact, it's how they learn about everything that matters: gravity, coordination, categories, how mummy reacts when a wooden box is dropped on her toe and so on. But a toddler cannot play if a toddler cannot reach his books, blocks or xylophone. So, in the spirit of independence and exploration, a Montessori toddler room offers easily accessible toys on low shelves and in baskets.
5. Tactile surfaces
Don't underestimate the sense of touch — kids learn an immense amount by exploring different textures and materials. Lambskin throws, soft blankets, cork mats, wooden blocks and crocheted rugs all enrich a child's experience of their environment. Most Montessori-inspired rooms will vary up the textures as much as possible.
6. Toddler-sized furniture
Aside from being A-DO-RA-BLE, teeny tiny furniture gives toddlers a chance to mimic their parents and use real-life play to learn about life. It also makes it easier for them to actually move and use the stuff in their room. Besides, since it is their room, it's only fair that they get their own miniature couch with itty-bitty armrests in the fabric of mummy's choosing.
7. A creative space
Let their imaginations run wild! Making messes and causing chaos is basically a toddler's MO, so allow them to do it… in a controlled setting. Introducing: the Montessori toddler room creative space. These often involve blackboards or rolls of paper and appropriate (non-toxic) drawing materials as well as sensory play bins, arts and crafts.
One fine day, a rather clever physician and educator — one Dr Maria Montessori — decided to turn the tables on the parent-child relationship by developing a child-centred way of going about things. She noted that young children are self-motivated, keen learners who can achieve incredible things if given enough autonomy and independence. This became the core of the "Montessori Method" — one of the main alternative education approaches worldwide.