Montessori education works perfectly for preschoolers. It works perfectly for other ages as well, but it’s easiest to find materials for home use at the preschool level. And, according to Maria Montessori, the years before age 6 are the most important:
…the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.
Here are my suggestions for setting up a Montessori preschool classroom or space at home. You could set up an entire classroom or even one or two shelves in a room, depending on whether you have a homeschool, home day care, or just want to give your child some Montessori-oriented activities at home.
1. Read about Montessori education. While the books by Maria Montessori are wonderful, I think the best books to read first about using Montessori 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.
2. Purchase or make low shelves and a child-sized table and chairs. At the preschool level, it’s important that everything possible is child-sized.
3. Purchase or make materials. In our homeschool classroom, we had beautiful Nienhuis Montessori materials. That was because I had owned a Montessori preschool in the 1980s that I closed when my son was 3½. There was a Montessori teacher shortage at the time, and I had to close the school or teach and direct the school myself, something which didn’t allow enough time for my family. I compressed my classroom into the smaller space available for our homeschool and waited until my children were past their preschool years to sell the materials from the school. (Note: In the photo, my son wasn’t in preschool any longer, but the classroom was still set up primarily as a Montessori preschool classroom for the benefit of my daughter, who was 1½. She no longer put objects in her mouth, so I didn’t have to set up the classroom as a toddler room.)
Without accessible materials from a Montessori school, I probably would have made many of the materials myself or found inexpensive versions. Luckily, there are many options today to find inexpensive Montessori materials through online stores and websites. UPDATE: Links to resources to download free Montessori materials, buy Montessori materials online, or make your own are in How to Set Up a Montessori Homeschool Classroom.
It’s important to emphasize practical-life, or daily living, activities as the most important activities for preschoolers at the start of a school year. The first Montessori school I taught at only had preliminary and practical-life activities on the shelves for the first few weeks of school. The thought was that the skills gained from practical-life activities were essential before the children even began working with Montessori materials in other areas. Here’s the link to an article I published on Montessori Practical Life Activities.
4. Group your materials together in the appropriate curriculum areas – practical life, sensorial, language, math, and cultural. If you have shelves for more than practical-life activities initially, you can still organize the materials you do have (even if they’re not actual Montessori materials) in curriculum areas on the shelves. Whenever you can, put each activity on a tray.
5. Using your available resources, make your classroom area as attractive and orderly as possible. Avoid clutter. Have a place for everything and everything in its place. Here’s a helpful article from North American Montessori Center on Montessori at Home: The Prepared Environment. I also have a post called How to Start Using Montessori at Home.
Your classroom or space within a room can be simple or elaborate. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. I’ll give some links to examples of Montessori homeschool classrooms. Some are full Montessori classrooms. Don’t be intimidated – just use the classrooms for inspiration and ideas. What’s right for you is what works for you and your family.
Here are some lovely Montessori home spaces and classrooms from:
- The Homeschool Classroom
- Counting Coconuts (Counting Coconuts posted a Classroom Tour with photos and descriptions of a beautiful new classroom in a new home.)
- What do you do all day?
- Good Tree Montessori Homeschool
- Montessori for Everyone
- Mommy Moment
UPDATE: For more information on Montessori activities, how to use Montessori education at home, and many more Montessori homeschool classrooms, see How to Set Up a Montessori Homeschool Classroom.
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to. Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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Maureen Sklaroff says
I remember reading this when it first posted, but am able to absorb so much more now that I have a better understanding of the Montessori method. BTW, I signed up for the online course you recommended and just got my albums. I’m so excited to started reading through them. Already, I have loved the parts that I have perused. Thanks for linking up!
Thanks so much, Maureen! I’m excited that you’re taking Karen Tyler’s course … I think you’ll love it! If anyone’s wondering, this is what I said in my comment:
I’m a real fan of Karen Tyler’s World Wide Montessori Online training for homeschoolers. It’s inexpensive, well-done, and you get all the Montessori albums as part of your training. I tell more about it here: https://livingmontessorinow.com/2010/09/21/free-montessori-geography-album/
My children are grown or almost grown now, but when I was cleaning out things, I hesitated to recycle my Child of the World Montessori catalog which was full of so many inspiring things. I had to scan it before I could recycle it. I think the beauty and clean design of the materials really motivates children to use them and use them carefully. Enjoy this special time with your children when they are open to being exposed to so many things!
Thanks for your comment, Mary! Actually, my children are adults now, too. I adore them as adults, although I do miss those early years. I also have a hard time parting with my Nienhuis catalogs with their beautiful materials … wonderful just to look at! 🙂
Katie Schultz says
I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful blog! I am a young mom of two toddlers and am working to bring Montessori into our home. Where we used to live there was a Montessori school that took kids as young as 2.5 and I was very excited to enroll my girls there (it’s actually the same school my husband went to from the time he was 3-6. Same teacher too!). However we moved and I am now struggling to find a school to take them. My oldest should be able to get in next fall but my little one won’t be able to until at least the year after that and I don’t want her to miss out. So thanks again for your wonderful post, it is helping me to do right by my girls and be the best parent I can be. I love the Montessori philosophy and I hope to have a successful classroom set up in our home for them in the next few months.
Thanks so much for your kind comment, Katie! There’s so much you can do at home. It’s wonderful you’re starting early! If you haven’t seen the links at the bottom of my “About Montessori” page, there are resources there that should be very helpful, too: https://livingmontessorinow.com/about-montessori/. Good luck, and have fun! 🙂
How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin looks to be a brilliant resource.
If I purchase it through a link on your review will you get a commission because you absolutely deserve it! 😛
Thanks, BJ! It is an amazing book! If you purchase the book through a link in my review, I will receive a small commission. I always appreciate that to help pay for my blogging expenses! 🙂
Thanks for your lovely blog. I’m planning to set up a small childcare center in Singapore and intend to use part of Montessori Practical Life materials as an enrichment. Generally, in Singapore parents loved sending their children to Montessori classroom environments as the Practical Life and Sensorial materials help to develop children’s concentration.
Thanks and have a good day.
Jean Nairon says
Wow! This is so cool ! Great Idea for kids thanks for sharing this amazing post .
Nice post on how to set up Montessori school at home. Thanks for sharing those helpful tips.
Great article thanks for sharing
Thank you for the post. I am planning to open up a home school. My pattern or curriculum in mind is to follow Montessori. The main reason is I love children and spending time with them just makes my mind calm and soothing. I have made few changes to the top floor in my home and have bought a basic Montessori classroom package(https://www.thinkamajigs.com/the-basics/) from the Montessori materials suppliers in Toronto. But was lagging with the arrangement and further follow-up.
Once again, thank you for the post. It’s full of ideas. Would these items suffix to start a toddler and preschool batch.