I'm often asked for quick ideas on how to create a Montessori home. I don't believe in Montessori makeovers. I believe changes should be gradual and each change should be followed by a close observation of the child in the new environment. However, I have some small, quick tips that are also really affordable, changes that you can make today that will help to create a more child led environment at home. All of these can be used from toddlerhood, however, are just as important when the child is five or six!
1. Use temporary hooks. Temporary hooks are great for hanging materials such as aprons at the child's level. It's easy to reposition them as the child grows. They are perfect for renters and for small spaces. Great for hanging aprons, coats, hanging tools like dustpans, or kitchen tools.
2. Decant shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, washing detergent even pet wash into small squeeze or pump bottles. Small travel bottles are perfect for this. This allows the child to use the soap bottles independently without the risk of using or potentially wasting the whole bottle. It's amazing how much more they enjoy washing when they can use the bottle themselves. You could do the same for body moisturiser or sunscreen. The same concept can apply to foods, breakfast cereals or snacks, put a small portion in a container and put the rest up out of reach, therefore the child can only eat and access what you have provided to them.
3. Use bathrooms accessories with suction caps. These temporary and moveable bathroom accessories make it affordable and easy to create a Montessori bathroom. Put a little mirror, soap dish, container to hold toothpaste, a hairbrush and even hand towels - at the child's level. These are also great for renters, small spaces and easy to adjust as the child grows.
4. Use pictorial labels. If you have a young child who isn't reading, yet you still want them to be able to put their clothes in the right place, or their train set in the right basket, consider using pictorial labels (labels with pictures, along with the words), they can go on drawers, baskets, tubs, wherever your child is asked to sort or put their things away!
5. Use a wardrobe extender. It works in most standard wardrobes and makes 'hanging up' clothes really accessible. It's a really affordable option and good for renters. There are some other 'extenders' that can be useful too such as light switch extenders.
I see so many Montessori parents laminate all of their materials. I suggest laminating - but only when you have to. If you are making your own language cards, three part cards or other printable materials most tutorials will suggest you laminate the cards. This makes them more durable but not recyclable. Laminate if you want them to last through more than one child but consider gluing them to cardboard to strengthen them instead, at least then it can go into the recycling and the environmental footprint will be lessened.
My other quick tip is to always think outside the box when looking for materials. I look in all sections at thrift and variety stores. Ikea, for example, has good baskets and containers in the bathroom section. You never know what you will find in the hardware store or kitchen stores, keep your eyes and mind open!