What does Montessori look like in the home?
Our Montessori home has changed significantly in the past six years. Not only have the children grown older and changed in terms of their needs, we have lived in four different houses! For example, when we lived in Dallas, I had a kitchen with a lot of space. I could fit a toddler table and chair set inside, and I had an extra cabinet just for kid stuff. When we moved, the new kitchen was a mere sliver. The toddler table and play kitchen lived in the dining room instead, and the play kitchen was converted to a cabinet where we kept the actual kid dishes and utensils. Even though it was not ideal, in my mind, it worked! And while having more space is nice, it didn't define our Montessori practice.
The organization of the toys in our house have taken a similar path. While having a classroom or playroom of sorts for your children to spend time learning in can be nice, it is not always feasible or necessary. We've had a shelf or two of baskets of toys in our living room, as well as in the bedrooms, and I think that as long as you are limiting the amount of toys or rotating them, you can pull it off perfectly without an entire room devoted to a play space.
That said, recently at age six, Henry has suddenly made us aware of his need to have an official private work space for projects and the like. Since this is the first year we are officially calling it "homeschooling kindergarten" for him, and because we currently live in a house with the space allowance, we decided to take the leap and create a home classroom. I'm so glad we did. We really love our new "school room", as the children call it.
The room is one of the small bedrooms upstairs, and we were able to fit two child sized desks, an art easel, and four or five shelves inside (wow!). We keep the door closed unless we are inside working because the three year old who lives with us is NOT trustworthy yet when unsupervised. Henry is allowed to come and go at will whenever he needs any supplies or some time and space alone to read and work.
Inspired by this video showing how well Montessori can work in a public school setting (and I can attest to that!), my husband and I created our own little video to show that the Montessori approach can also thrive inside a homeschool classroom. The classroom creation is all mine; the video editing skills are all his. It was great to work on this project together and have a little fun with our camera, but make no mistake on the beauty in the video - this room is real.
Real means that the messy art projects sometimes take over. Nature piles grow. Experiments leave sticky residues. It was never meant to be a perfect room. It was meant to be lived in, touched, loved. Every time the children enter, the room is changed slightly to meet their needs. The Montessori classroom was always meant to be an environment prepared for the children that easily adapts to their learning goals.
Do you have a designated homeschool classroom or playroom inside your home? How is it working out for you? Share in the comments!