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 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 playroom is a wonderful tool for a flat surface that will be used for playing, drawing, and other crafts over time.
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. (Learn more about Montessori bookshelves!)
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. Add pillows and blankets!)
The Montessori playroom, made modern
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 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!