A Child-Centered Room…Implementing Montessori Style Play at Home

I used to teach at a Montessori based preschool and hope to enroll our son in a Montessori preschool next year. I’ve been in many preschool classrooms and I definitely like the environment provided in a Montessori set up. What I liked most about the preschool I worked at was that it wasn’t completely Montesssori, it took what the owner thought were the best parts of a number of different learning styles and combined them all.  Sometimes I struggle to wrap my head around a young child working at the same activity for hours. However it is child led, and the results you see in children who attended Montessori are great, so I’m still a strong advocate.

Until my son is ready for preschool I have tried to have some Montessori style activities for him at home. When I first started writing this blog I posted about different sensory activities my son does such as putting pipe cleaners through a milk crate and scooping popcorn seeds. There are lots of great child led activities that you can make yourself for your child to be introduced to a Montessori Style of learning and playing.

The most important thing to do is make everything child accessible.

Child Friendly Play Area

All toys are accessible to child and can be put away by child.

Everything in our family room and in my son’s room that is meant for him is within his reach. We have low shelves, drawers and baskets with all of his things in. The only activity he can’t reach in the family room is the bucket of arts and crafts and this is of course intentional because I don’t want to go to the bathroom and come back to my house covered in paint, markers and glue!      My son also has a small IKEA table where he can eat his snack, colour or use the play dough, all independently. I obviously supervise all of these as they can turn messy but he can get in and out of his chair on his own, reach something he dropped without having to be unstrapped from his booster seat and he can see everything on the table if he’s standing up.

In his bedroom he has a low set of jungle animal hooks that he is learning to hang his things up on such as his house coat. A potty that he can access when he needs (if this week’s potty training is successful)! He has an open clothes basket that he puts his dirty clothes in by himself.

Low Hooks and Accessible Potty to Encourage Independence

Reading Corner

Low Book Shelves in Child’s Reading Corner

In one corner of his room he has an open toy box where he can access his toys and a blanket on the floor with two low book shelves and a tub of books. I am going to add another shelf next to the others as my kiddo loves books and reads a dozen books a day so we like having lots so my husband and I aren’t reading the same stories over and over again, whether they’re his own or from the library. You see some really nice set ups of book shelves on Pinterest that are four or five rows high, these look great but your child won’t be able to reach half their books! Try keeping them to two rows high. IKEA spice racks work great to display your child’s books so they can see and recognize the covers. I have also hung pictures up in his room of his own paintings and photos of him and his friends and family at his height so he can look at them, they are in plastic frames from, you guessed it, IKEA!

In the other corner he has a low basket with some dress up outfits in it, another coat hanger and a small plastic mirror at his height from IKEA.

Dress Up Corner

Low Hooks and Mirror for Child’s Dress Up

A lot of Montessori bedrooms have a mattress on the floor. We bought our son a convertible crib and it is now a safe toddler bed that he can easily get in and out of himself. I don’t like the look of a mattress on the floor and we’re not going to have our child sleep on the floor when he has a perfectly good, toddler friendly bed.

Toddler Bed

Toddler Bed Child Can Come and Go as Needed

So there you have it, a quick trip to IKEA and you have a fun, child-centered room for you little one. If you don’t live near an IKEA or can’t afford to purchase a lot of new items get creative, use baskets and tubs you already have around your home. Cover an old diaper bag with fabric or wrapping paper to put toys in and a shoebox for books. There are lots of great, cheap ways to help your child feel comfortable in their home and teach them to become independent.