Today I have a guest post for you. Cristina from Mothers Abroad has been so generous to give us a tour of her home and the amazing Montessori environment she has created for her 19-month old daughter. These spaces are so beautiful and also very practical. The areas are well designed and you can see the thought and care that has gone into them. I hope you find some inspiration here and some tips or ideas for your home too! Cristina and her family currently reside in Germany. Here is Cristina's post.
Imagine you are about 1.70m tall and you have to climb 1.20m to be able to sit on a couch. Imagine you cannot speak the language of the people around you and you desperately try to make them understand that you are terribly thirsty or hungry. Imagine all your belongings, including clothes and toys, are kept in a 5m high closet and you are not allowed to choose what you want to wear. It sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Well, very often this is just everyday life for a toddler.
I realized that when I was pregnant and a friend told me about an exhibition in London where they built a whole house at a huge scale so that adults could experience the daily life of a toddler. "Exhausting and frustrating", she said. So that's when I decided that wherever we went, I would adapt our house to my baby and later toddler's needs. Luckily, I discovered the Montessori pedagogy and this made it much easier. On Kylie's blog I came across a very talented craftsman: Aquiles from Woomo. He made many of the pieces of furniture we have. I am very grateful to both of them.
Welcome to our Montessori home! I'm delighted to show you around. The whole house is set up for my 19-month old daughter so that she can do as much as possible by herself. It's an on-going work and I regularly make the environment evolve according to her needs and interests. Here are some of our favourite spaces:
1/ Reading areas
I love these ones! Maybe because I have been such a fan of books since I was a child. In her room we have installed a reading bench at her size made by Woomo. The place is cosy and the books are displayed on the wooden steps nearby so that she can see and choose by herself the books she wants to read. I rotate them to create a "novelty effect".
In our office I have set up for her the last two rows of a bookshelf. She loves sitting on this small rattan stool and flipping through the books:
2/ Activities and exploration areas
Probably all children like to make the whole house (and the whole space outdoors) their field of exploration and that's what my daughter enjoys mostly, too. But I found it useful to have these two areas (one in her room and one in the living-room) where she can sit and focus on some Montessori-inspired activities.
On the shelves I display the materials on small wooden trays or in baskets. Only a few materials are displayed at a given moment, the others are stored in a bigger closet. I rotate the activities to create a novelty effect (like for the books) and I closely watch her interests of the moment.
For example, at the moment, she is very interested in putting small objects into bigger ones so we have some Matriochkas (Russian dolls) and a set of Grimm’s black and white wooden jars that interlock on the shelf in her room:
In the living room we have other Montessori activities and this beautiful rocking horse, which she can get in and out by herself.
Some activities are more enjoyable when we use her small "work table". She can sit on a little armchair and draw or do a matching activity with cards:
3/ Self-care and dressing spaces
I believe that for a little person it is as important as for a grown-up to be able to take care of herself in an independent way. It is empowering and it's a part of human dignity after all, even at such a young age. That's why it was important to me to set up the self-care areas in a way that enables my daughter to do as much as possible by herself.
In her room we have this beautiful and practical handwashing station.I have recently added a mirror and she now has a lot of fun when she brushes her teeth or combs her hair. On the right, there is a basket for the laundry and she drops the clothes in by herself.
This little cupboard has also changed our lives:
She is now interested in dressing herself independently and she spends a considerable amount of time trying to put her socks on or trying different T-shirts. Needless to say that the wardrobe is not as orderly as in this picture all the time. But I know it's a phase. It's an important time when she needs to practice her skills so I just take a deep breath and wait until she is done.
I have recently added the pictures of the different categories of clothes and the weather and we discuss in the morning about the weather and the clothes we should pick up accordingly. I try to offer her two choices every day.
In the entrance we have recently set up a shoes and coats area. Her interest in putting shoes and coats on and off by herself is growing. The coats are hung on the Horse Rack and the hats in a small basket on the left of the shelf:
4/ Snacks and drinks station
I also found it important to have a space where she can independently pour herself a drink and have a snack. In our kitchen I fit this low Japanese style table. There is always a glass and a jug of water on it. Snacks are also available on the table in the morning and in the afternoon. On the wall, I stuck pictures of her favourite fruits and vegetables and some Asian dishes just to remind us all about our time in Asia. I change the pictures each season. Here is our Fall "collection":
I hope you enjoyed our guided tour. I am grateful that we were able to create this space for our daughter. Setting up a Montessori house at home doesn’t always require a big investment in money and energy but it demands that we put ourselves into a little person’s shoes and ask ourselves "What would I need to be able to do things by myself?".
Thank you so much to Cristina for her guest post and sharing her experiences with us! You can read more about Cristina and her family at Mothers Abroad and Facebook. Cristina also moderates a closed Facebook group for Mothers Abroad here.