What is Montessori Learning?
Source: Cedar Park Montessori
To first understand the importance of a Montessori playroom, you need to learn the importance of Montessori Learning.
According to Montessori NorthWest, Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori rooms children make creative choices in their learning, while age-appropriate activities are offered to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential.
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children learn naturally.
According to Daily Montessori, The Montessori Theory is a method of teaching where the key principles are Independence, Observation, Following the Child, Correcting the Child, Prepared Environment and Absorbent Mind.
What is a Montessori Playroom?
Source: Free and Unfettered
A Montessori playroom is an organised and conducive environment for a child to grow and play. Every item has its place, and every place has a specific purpose. The room, details and the furnishings are thoughtfully picked according your child’s current developmental stage and needs in mind. Their playroom is a space to learn, explore, and experience the skills that they are currently working on. Objects and toys should be at your child’s eye level to train independence by making him or her easily reach for the desired toys. The playroom should be kept minimalistic and the toys at a minimum to avoid sensory overload.
Why Invest in a Montessori Playroom?
An overload of toys or options are actually overwhelming for children and in turn, affects their focus and mood. While it might be easy to just dump all the toys into a basket or a container, children actually work better when there is routine and order instilled!
Reasons for investing in a Montessori Playroom include but are not limited to these few reasons stated below!
Facilitates Play: a clean and ordered environment will invigorate children and make them more open to explore and play.
Minimal Mess: less toys equate to less mess and children can easily put away the toys after they’re done with one activity.
Cost Saving: Wooden toys are not the first option for most parents because they are usually expensive. However, keep in mind that quality matters in this situation. You will save more in the long run because of toys that can last longer. Rotating toys (because they last!) will also aid in this aspect because you can reintroduce old toys that your child might be interested in the future.
Trains Independence: This happens as the child has the ability to take all the toys when they want. Such toys are designed to be free play and train one’s imagination, which should keep them busy for longer.
Aesthetically Pleasing: With such beautiful toys combined with a minimalistic and spacious surrounding, it’s hard to not fall in love with the space! Both you and your child will definitely love spending time there.
Natural Materials: Wooden toys do not have fancy lights nor irritating sounds that are trademarks that surround the toys available today. This means that there are no tiny parts that might slip out, harmful plastics to the environment or even battery leakages to worry about.
Sensory Skills: Montessori toys and playrooms train sensory skills as they incorporate lots of movement. Having minimal items in the space lets them move around freely and ensures that they’re not constantly tripping over the toys.
Creating a Small Montessori Space
In Singapore, you don’t need to cater a large space to accommodate your Montessori playroom. Simply having a small Montessori space will be ideal. The most essential items that you should prepare are a child friendly table set, as well as a row of shelves. These items will suffice especially if you don’t have enough room to spare and are easily available at IKEA. Bear in mind these few tips when creating your own Montessori play room or play area!
Source: Montessori Method
Keep toys and activities within eye level of your child. This is especially important to train independence in them so that they learn to pick and choose their own toys and be able to keep toys after. If you constantly shift your toys around and change them, you can make do with one low shelving unit. If you have space for two or more shelving units (stack them!), then there’s even more options for play. Place your materials on trays or in baskets in order to keep organised. Collate any educational materials you have by a certain subject or by theme. For instance, if you’re teaching your child about animals, organise your items into specific categories such as – “animals”, “nature”, “accessory blocks”
Make sure that whatever you have in the shelvings is what meets your child’s needs and interests at the time.
Source: Rockabye Mommy
Neutral colours and minimal designs works best with a Montessori playroom. Have neutral colours around the room and on the walls. This provide a soothing feel so children are not distracted and increases their focus. A splash of colour here and there can work, and you can achieve this by displaying artworks on the walls (especially if it’s your child’s) so they can feel a sense of accomplishment to see their work showcased!
Source: This Wild Heart
Create different spaces for different purposes. Have an open space for free play activities as well as a cozy corner that is meant for reading and learning. Organise the toys in a way that is easy for your child to know where to find it. It creates a routine and sense of control knowing the blocks have a special space.
Open spaces (usually in the middle) allow children to explore and be creative, be it through physical play or displaying out their activities on the floor. A quiet corner that is meant for reading and relaxing will inculcate a sense of calmness in the room that your children can use whenever they need.
If you have room to spare, spruce up your cozy corner with a feature such as an indoor castle, bean bags or a sofa to enhance the comfort level of the space.
One important aspect about Montessori playrooms is the focus on is on incorporating natural elements such as wood or natural fibres. As mentioned, such natural products are often more durable than plastic or synthetic materials and looks more aesthetically pleasing.
However, the number one aspect of natural materials is they are far more responsive than plastic. Take for instance, wood.
Wood warms up to the touch, it smooth and wears down with use, it chips, scratches and tarnishes which makes it intricate and beautiful. Natural light and windows are a particularly prized addition to your Montessori playroom. If you can incorporate access to a safe outdoor area even better, and as Maria Montessori herself said “it is also necessary for his psychical life to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature”
Intentionally creating a space for your child to learn, play and grow in will aid in their development, especially with the usage of a variety of age appropriate toys. In this conducive environment, children can bloom in a space that encourages learning through exploration and creativity.