Written by Rachel Kleinman, former Toddler Guide
“To assist a child, we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
A question commonly asked by Montessori parents is, “How can we implement what you’re teaching in the classroom at home?”
While at school, your child has been busy learning practical life skills for both taking care of herself and her environment. The toddler Montessori environment at school is specifically designed to foster independent learning and exploration for your young child. However, there are many ways you can easily create a Montessori-friendly toddler environment at home.
Maria Montessori often refers to the “prepared environment,” which simply means offering an area to the child that is intended to facilitate as much independence as possible. It is important that a toddler have opportunities to exert her “will” and accomplish self-care tasks independently. The child’s unspoken plea is, “Help me to help myself!” With a few simple modifications, the home environment can provide a sense of freedom, have order, and be beautiful.
Here are some ways to foster independence in the home:
- Create an organized space where your child can store personal items and maintain a sense of order. A great place to start is with a little basket by the front door where she can store her shoes when she comes into the house. You can also add a hook at her eye level where she can practice hanging up her backpack and coat.
- Allow time for your child to get ready on her own – allow her to practice putting shoes on and off, and also give time for her to put on her own coat.
- Have artwork at the child’s eye level to spark conversation and language development. This is also a fantastic opportunity to teach children to look with their eyes and hold hands behind their backs (a great lesson in self-control and care of the environment!).
- Provide a low tables and chair as a workplace that your child knows belongs to her. The expectations are that she puts materials away when finished working, focus on only one task at a time, and push in the chair when leaving.
- Provide real child-size utensils, tools, and glassware – we use these every day in the classroom, especially during snack time.
- Provide cleaning materials that are accessible to your child so she can pick up after herself. A few good tools are a small dustpan and broom, a table crumber, and a small spray bottle and washcloth to wipe the tables.
It is amazing what a toddler can accomplish when given the proper tools and a sense of independence! We simply need to help them to help themselves.
Parental Challenge: Choose one (or more!) of these ways to implement the Montessori Method in your home. Observe over time to see how your child responds to the change.
Learn more about the Greenspring Montessori School Toddler Program.