Bringing it home, Part 1.

“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” –Dr. Maria Montessori

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(In the images above, toddlers in Ms. Alex’s room help with folding laundry. This is just one of the many skills the children practice at school, and can help with at home!)

For the next few weeks I’ll be writing blogs that focus on the overlap of two environments where children spend the bulk of their time: home and school. These two spaces are rich with opportunities for children to gain knowledge, skills, courage and independence. At school, shelves at the right height for the children are beautifully supplied with work specifically designed to meet their developmental needs. A teacher is present to keep the flow of the environment, model behavior, teach lessons, and care for the children. A classroom is intended, in every aspect of its design, to ‘help the children help themselves.’

Home, on the other hand, is a much more varied space. The needs of many people (and animals!) are being met there, not just those of the young learners. There, the whirlwind of life comes through daily. Meals, activities, relaxation time, social gatherings, chores, and work come together in a way that is unique to each family.

A big part of making Montessori philosophy transferrable to the home, is to echo the order of the classroom through organizing the home environment so that the children can be more autonomous. Julia Palzer, a mother of three (all of whom attend the Co-op!) weighed in on how she and her husband have endeavored to bring Montessori home through mirroring the organization of the classroom environment, of which she says;

“We have made the kids hooks and cubbies for their back packs and coats like they have at school, trying to give them the comfort of knowing the proper place for these items and the ability to be responsible. This has been a success. They know to put their back packs and belongings there each day and it creates harmony in the home not searching for these things.”

“I must say, even for us adults, it gives us freedom, or makes us breathe easy, It is comforting to know where these things go and allows the child a time and a place to return the proper items to the proper station. This organization is just freeing.”

Through prioritizing the children’s autonomy and involvement at home, the Palzers are helping to bridge the school environment, giving their children even more opportunities to practice skills learned there.
From the American Montessori Society Website: “Having a place for everything, on a child-friendly scale, encourages both independence and self-discipline. Children know where to find what they need, and where to put it when they’re done. An ordered environment also has fewer distractions, allowing children to focus on the task at hand.”

Working to create a home environment that is organized Montessori-style can be done over time, as a process of slow integration. Some areas to focus on:

-Having things at a reachable height for children (appropriately sized shelves).

-Having a place for each item that the child will be using.

-Keeping the space organized, with the help of the child.

-Considering the flow of the space, and making adjustments when needed. 

-Changing the items available on the shelves in response to what the child demonstrates interest in.

I hope that some of these ideas are helpful to parents looking for a way to bridge school and home environments. Check out our pinterest page, which contains a lot of ideas for just that!

Till next week!