Setting up a Montessori space at home is something any parent can do – because it can be designed to fit any home and any family. A Montessori space is especially helpful for toddlers and preschoolers, but it’s helpful at the elementary level as well.
If you want to set up an entire homeschool classroom, be sure to follow the links in “How Can Montessori Fit into Your Family?” and read “How to Set Up a Montessori Preschool Classroom at Home.” But maybe you don’t have room for an entire classroom yet still want to provide some educational activities using Montessori principles at home.
Setting Up a Small Montessori Space
For many families and grandparents, a small Montessori space will be ideal. I know that’s my plan for when I have grandkids. The two essentials for me would be a child-sized table and chair(s) and a low shelving unit for materials. I would also save a low kitchen cupboard for a child’s food-preparation utensils and dishes.
If you rotate materials, you can get by with one low shelving unit. If you have room for two or more shelving units, that’s great but not essential. Place your materials on trays whenever possible (similar to the activity trays from Counting Coconuts). Organize any educational materials you have by subject. Try to put out materials that meet your child’s needs and interests at the time.
(Photo from How We Homeschool)
For preschoolers, emphasize practical life activities so your child or grandchild will develop order, concentration, coordination, and independence. You could have a space for sensorial activities (such as color matching or matching objects by touch, weight, sound, taste, or smell), language activities, math activities, and cultural activities (such as a globe and one or two trays with science activities).
If you have a toddler or preschooler, I recommend a child-sized work table in your kitchen or dining room. Your child can work at the table while you’re working in the kitchen. The table can also be placed next to the dining room table to be used instead of a high chair. My children had a Montessori toddler table (“weaning table”) which they used throughout much of their early years for work and instead of a high chair.
I think two of the most helpful books for parents wanting to use Montessori principles at home are How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin and Teach Me to Do It Myself by Maja Pitamic. UPDATE: Now I also recommend John Bowman’s Montessori at Home eBook. “Top 10 Principles for Montessori Learning” gives an overview of Montessori principles you can use in any home environment.
About a Girl has a series showing a Montessori-friendly home environment for a preschooler. The educational activities are organized on a couple of shelving units but don’t require a home classroom. A space is reserved in the kitchen for the child’s activities.
Buttercup’s Babies prepared a Montessori-friendly home environment for both a preschooler and toddler.
Montessori ici has a series of posts showing a Montessori-friendly home environment.
Montessori-Friendly Home Pinterest Board
UPDATE: I now have a Montessori-Friendly Home Pinterest board with lots of great examples of Montessori spaces and Montessori-friendly homes. The post “How to Start Using Montessori at Home” has many more links and ideas.
You can make your Montessori space as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Try to keep it as organized and attractive as possible; emphasize Montessori principles for natural learning; and have fun following your child or grandchild!