The entryway is an important part of a Montessori home environment. It's an area that can serve us and our toddler well if it is thought out and organised.
Why do we need a toddler entryway?
- Promotes order and independence.
- Allows the child to easily look after and put away their belongings.
- For the parent it is easier to find the child's shoes and coats, especially useful when you need them in a rush.
- Empowers the child to participate in self dressing as much as possible.
- Provides adequate and dedicated space for dressing including putting on shoes and coats, with everything the child needs in one space.
- Just like the child's work shelves, everything has a place and items can be returned to that place once the child has finished using them.
What can we include in the toddler entryway?
- Tray, basket or rack for shoes and boots.
- Basket for socks, possibly a basket or drawer for gloves and hats.
- Shoe brush, we also need the shoe cleaner for boots (especially in winter).
- Pegs, to secure pairs of shoes together.
- Hooks for coats, hats, bags, at the child's level.
- Backpack, foraging/nature bag.
- Basket for nature finds/sticks/rocks.
- Child size chair or stool, if the child prefers to sit on a chair to put shoes on.
- Soft rug or comfortable area if child prefers to sit on floor to put shoes on.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses.
- Umbrella, rain coat.
- Snow gear, gloves, suit, boots.
In the past our toddler entryway has become a mess. To keep it functional I have needed to reduce the amount of items stored in the area. If I had all of Otto's coats out there would be too much for him to look after. I have really found that less is more. I will now only put out what Otto will need for that day for example I will put out the rain coat and umbrella only if it is raining.
We have a mud room for my older children however it is enclosed by a door which Otto can't open and contains a lot of sporting equipment that we don't want Otto to have free access to. We have created Otto's entryway space under our stairs, it's right near our front door in an otherwise unutilised space. He loves nothing more than running and getting his shoes and coat when he knows we are going for a walk.
We can remember that as soon as the child is walking, they can participate in self dressing. Even the youngest toddler can get their shoes out of the basket and sit down.
He cannot get his slippers on by himself so I give him only as much help as he needs. I open the slipper and allow him to slide his foot in, and then he pulls the velcro strap across and secures it. For every child and every pair of shoes it will be different but our approach is the same, take it step by step.
After our nature walk Otto will transfer all of the items he has collected from his bag to the basket in the entryway. Sometimes I will dispose of any items and sometimes they (like the pinecones and feathers) will find their way to our nature shelves.