We’ve been in this house for almost a year and a half now and until just this weekend her toys were just lining the floor around her bed in no particular order. Really, it was a mess. I knew we had to do something about it and it has been on my mind since we moved in, but if you’ve ever bought a house you know there are a million projects and never enough time to do them all and you are virtually broke after taking on a mortgage also.
Meanwhile we’ve been looking for pre-schools for Charlie. After visiting the vast array of different types of pre-schools in the Richmond area we finally confirmed what we already thought. Montessori is the education that resonates with our parenting style the most. If you aren’t familiar with Montessori it is a teaching style developed by an Italian doctor named Maria Montessori. She studied children in the poor areas of Italy and developed a very specific set of tools and teaching principles designed to lead children to independence and responsibility in all areas of their life. It’s giving them freedom within limits. The idea is to teach children to do things for themselves and, ultimately isn’t that what we’re all going for?
In my former experience as a nanny I had a 4 year old little boy who went to a fantastic Montessori school in the area. His mom wanted me to be familiar with the principles so I read books and sat in on his class. I was baffled by 4 year olds working independently (and also together) quietly on the floor with their work. He would come home from school so excited about what he was learning and he was learned well beyond what I even knew a 4 year old could learn in math especially. I wish I loved to learn as much as a kid as I do now in my adult life! I wonder now if it’s partly because of how kids are being taught that they don’t like school.
To fully embrace the Montessori ideals it helps to extend the principles to the home. The Montessori bedroom and play space are very simple.
It’s a mattress on the floor and kid sized furniture. Everything has a specific place and everything is within reach of the children. Toys aren’t thrown in a giant box they are displayed openly on low shelving or in our case, cubbies.
You will like this for several reasons. The toys will be played with because they are out in the open and after a few days of teaching them where things go they will learn to put things back exactly where they go. A friend of mine pointed out that she keeps a basket in the room for toys that her daughter can’t remember where they go, then, later, they work together to put them away in their proper places. It’s the groundwork for children being responsible for their own messes and their own possessions, and totally worth doing.
Charlie adores her new room and while we may not be done necessarily with decorating it, I am so glad it functions on a practical and educational level for Charlie. She knows where everything goes, she spends time with each of her toys and she just loves it! In her words “It’s bootiful!” and that’s good enough for me!