At the end of the 19th century, Italian educator Maria Montessori developed a groundbreaking approach to learning and teaching. This unique educational philosophy is founded upon several bedrock principles that describe how children best learn. While Montessori education is usually taught within a specialized school setting, parents can also successfully utilize Montessori principles at home. Below is how you can shape a child's most personal environment, their bedroom, to help them flourish as they grow in mind, body, and spirit.
Keep independence as an overall guiding principle
If one principle can be identified as a cornerstone of Montessori thought, it would be independence. Montessori education stresses allowing children to find their own path by exercising independence in the learning environment. By keeping learning independence in mind as you shape your child's personal environment, you will set a proper foundation for them to learn via self-exploration.
Use properly proportioned furniture
A child often can feel trapped inside an adult world, and this message is reinforced whenever children are expected to conform by using adult furniture. However, inside their bedrooms, children will feel more at ease and comfortable to explore if their furniture is proportioned to their needs. Though most families cannot afford changing furniture at every new age milestone, they can carefully select furniture that will "grow" with their children. For example, bunk beds can usually be converted to a single twin-sized bed for a child who has outgrown a bunk.
Maintain free movement and promote activity
One of the first things you can do to create a Montessori-friendly bedroom for your child is to arrange furniture and other objects with deliberate care. Objects should not serve as figurative or literal obstacles to a child's learning, so consider how everything in the room affects movement. For example, be mindful of where you place games, toys, and books; don't locate them on a high shelf inside a closet where they can't be reached. In addition, be willing to remove unnecessary items that create clutter and confusion. Keeping the environment clean and well-organized will provide a neutral "palette" for learning and help children cut through distractions.
Utilize age and developmentally appropriate materials
Another tenet of Montessori education is that children should be surrounded with materials that are appropriate for their particular age and developmental cycle. Montessori promotes the idea that children pass through distinct stages of learning that are tied to chronological age. In each stage, the child is particularly sensitive to acquiring specific types of knowledge. That is why it is helpful for parents to support this natural process by providing children with toys, books, games, and other objects that facilitate and not frustrate.
Of course, as a parent, be sure to know your own child's needs well enough to go outside the recommended developmental range as appropriate. Not every child will be rigidly locked into the age sequence, and your understanding of your own child's needs will be key in helping them move forward.
Provide a nature-centered environment
Montessori education is not against modern technology, but it does recognize the importance of connecting children to the natural environment. This connection doesn't have to be made exclusively in the outdoors, as these experiences can be recreated inside the bedroom. That is why the use of materials, decor, and other objects closely connected to the animal and plant kingdoms are of great value. In addition, the use of natural fibers and textures, such as different types of wood, are another way for kids to feel more at home inside their bedrooms. Don't dismiss the importance of the sense of touch; many children use their hands to learn, particularly in the younger age ranges, and promoting feeling through independent exploration is one way to help them with this.
For more information about encouraging Montessori philosophy, consult professionals at a school such as Miniapple International Montessori School.