A playroom implies a dedicated space filled with toys, something to stimulate and entertain our little ones in every box and bin. But what if we turned that idea around?
A Montessori playroom is not filled, but rather highly curated. Each activity has space around it, allowing a child to act with intention, selecting materials to explore and ways to interact. The goal is to support a child's independence and ability to learn through play. Read on to learn about the guiding principles of a Montessori playroom.
The Montessori Playroom Toy Shelf
The most consistent element you'll notice in Montessori playrooms is a shelf that empowers even a baby to reach for toys independently. You can buy a shelf like this or use a piece of furniture you already have.
On the shelf, place six to eight activities with space between them. Every so often, rotate something new in by removing one of the items that is not frequently used.
The practice of toy rotation invites parents to stay tuned in to what types of activities are engaging their child at the moment. A customized offering of toys on the shelf based on observations of what your child loves will lead to deeper and more focused play.
A Child-Sized Table
Once they can stand independently, toddlers find great satisfaction in doing multiple things at once, such as standing and using their hands to manipulate objects. Having a table in a Montessori playroom is a wonderful tool for a flat surface that will be used for playing, drawing, and other crafts over time.
A child-sized table serves as a valuable tool for their growth and exploration, offering a dedicated space for various activities and promoting their physical, cognitive, and social development. Here are some reasons why a child-sized table is essential for babies and toddlers:
Promotes independence: As toddlers gain the ability to stand independently, they become eager to engage in activities that allow them to explore their surroundings and develop their motor skills. A child-sized table provides them with a safe and accessible surface at their level, enabling them to engage in independent play, creativity, and learning.
Supports fine motor skills: Manipulating objects and engaging in hands-on activities are crucial for the development of fine motor skills in young children. Having a table at their height allows toddlers to practice grasping, holding, and manipulating objects, such as drawing utensils, building blocks, or puzzles. These activities help refine their hand-eye coordination, finger dexterity, and overall fine motor control.
Encourages creativity and imagination: Toddlers have active imaginations and a natural curiosity to explore and create. A child-sized table provides a dedicated space where they can engage in imaginative play, such as drawing, painting, and crafting. By having a flat and stable surface, toddlers can express their creativity, experiment with different materials, and develop their artistic abilities.
Fosters cognitive development: A child-sized table serves as a platform for various cognitive activities that promote early learning and intellectual growth. It becomes a space for puzzles, sorting games, building blocks, and other educational toys. These activities enhance cognitive skills like problem-solving, spatial awareness, shape recognition, and logical thinking.
Establishes routines and boundaries: Introducing a child-sized table into a toddler's environment helps establish routines and boundaries. By designating a specific area for activities, it creates a sense of structure and order. Toddlers learn that certain activities are conducted at the table, instilling discipline and teaching them to focus on tasks.
Safety and comfort: A child-sized table is designed with the safety and comfort of young children in mind. It is proportioned to their height, reducing the risk of accidents or injuries that might occur if they were to use a regular-sized table. Additionally, it provides a stable and secure surface, allowing toddlers to sit comfortably and engage in activities for extended periods without straining or feeling uncomfortable.
Room to play on the floor
More important than a table, is an open space where a child can explore the toys they remove from the shelf. Babies especially need an area where they can experiment with rolling and getting themselves in and out of the sitting position.
Rugs and playmats are lovely (we love these!) but time spent on wood or tile has an upside, too! Babies will learn to push off the floor when they brace their bare feet against the surface.
A Reading Corner
Just as with toys, it helps your little one focus when they can see their choices and put them back with ease. An ideal reading corner includes a small selection of books, stored in a way that your child can access them independently. Check out this front facing bookshelf!
Some families have a soft chair or beanbag-style seat to encourage independent time with books. (Tip for big kids: An outgrown crib mattress on the floor is the perfect size for a reading nook. Just add pillows and blankets!)
The main idea is to create a space that supports your child's learning. This means reducing clutter so they can see the toys that meet their needs at their current developmental stage.
It also means thinking about how to empower your child to play independently. Placing items within their reach is the key.
Even if you don't have a lot of space, a low toy shelf, a reading nook, and space to bring toys off the shelf will allow your little one to have fun in a space designed especially for them.
There's no specific style of decor that is best for a Montessori playroom -- it's all about identifying experiences that will help your child get into a state of flow, where they are so engaged with their activity that they repeat it over and over. That's when they learn the most!
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