by Jo Ebisujima
One of the striking things about a Montessori School is the style of the classroom. One will often find beautiful objects upon the shelves, laid out in a clean and uncluttered environment.
The children are able to move freely and to access what they need. The environment is designed to promote independence. Montessori classrooms give off the energy of calmness yet are still buzzing with activity; it is a productive yet peaceful environment to be in.
If we are using Montessori at home, how can we replicate these important elements of a beautiful classroom environment?
1. Remove the Clutter and Show a Sense of Order
I know! Easier than it sounds and usually the clutter in our homes take years to accumulate, it doesn’t happen overnight. So start out small and choose one area to make beautiful and devoid of clutter. The best way to do this is first, set a timer, depending on the size of the area I recommend 30 minutes.
Remove everything except the furniture from the area, give it a quick clean and the as you put things back, think about what you are adding back to that space.
- Do you really need it?
- Is it beautiful?
- Does it make you happy?
- Is it in good repair?
- Is this its ‘home’?
Ask yourself these questions with each item, by the time you are finished you should be left with only the items you truly need and the pieces that you absolutely love, the rest can go!
2. Make Space
Whenever you look at interior design magazines, the rooms are, of course beautiful. One of the common themes running through these pictures is the sense of space, they are styled to a minimum. Look around your room, is there furniture that you can live without (I kid you not, my gran had 4 small side tables in her living room and the place was tiny!) What else can you remove that will make more space?
If there is more space on the shelves, your child will find it easier to take off the work and the same applies to books. Children also find it easier to return work/books when the shelf has plenty of space to do so.
To achieve space you may need to take away some items and put them into rotation. Less is most definitely more, with less on the shelves your child will spend more time with each thing which in turn builds concentration skills.
3. Set an Example
You can hardly expect your children to keep their room tidy if your own looks like a bomb has hit it. If you are guilty of leaving piles of papers and mountains of “stuff” all over the house, then expect your children to follow suit.
Not only are they following your lead but the chaotic environment will rub off on them too. Now, I am not a naturally tidy person, (as my mother will testify) but when I discovered the Montessori way I wanted desperately for my son to have that kind of environment to grow up in so I trained myself to be tidier. I limited my piles of chaos to one small side table and set out on a mission to get rid of anything we really didn’t need. It is an ongoing process because there are always new things coming into the house. After a big declutter session the house always feels so much bigger, brighter and cleaner and I feel less stressed. It is certainly worth the effort.
4. Find A Home For Everything
Yes, everything. My clients get used to be harping on about this but this is KEY to having a clutter free home.
It might be easier when you first set up your system to label drawers, cupboards and baskets until everyone in the family has got the hang of it. If something doesn’t have a home it will become a vagrant in your home, being moved from place to place meaning you will never be able to find it when you need it and it will always be an eyesore, wherever it ends up. So, find it a home or show it the door.
This is a good time to pare things down, you really don’t need 17 pairs of scissors and 9 vegetable peelers do you?
Young children are fully capable of putting away their things IF the home is set up in such a way that it’s easy for them to do so. If you want them to tidy up after themselves then you must help them to succeed, does it make sense for an item to live there? Is it easy? Is it ordered and functional? All things to think about as you set up your home.
5. Showcase Something Beautiful
If you go to an art gallery, featured piece of art is put on show, for all to see. It is the centre of attention, the talking point.
You can easily create the same effect in your home. Pick a spot that has few distractions, a small table, a specific shelf, a blank wall for example and display something of interest. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it could be a souvenir from a holiday, a painting or sculpture, an interesting shell found at the beach. Something that will draw your child in, that will spark interest, get them asking questions, talking and expressing their ideas.
Change the item every now and then, don’t say anything, let the child discover it by themselves.
Another idea on the same lines is to have somewhere to showcase your child’s artwork, keep it down to one or two pieces, again, try and get that art gallery vibe going on. Your child will be filled with pride having his or her work on display and it is a talking point for visitors too.
Don’t Try And Do Everything At Once
I know you are a busy mama, we all are! And if your home is chaotic and cluttered, I am willing to bet it didn’t happen overnight, so don’t expect to declutter it overnight! Break it into baby steps and work a little magic on it every day and soon you will start to see a change.
If you need incentive to get your house under control then do it for your kids! I an untidy person like myself can do it, anyone can and now that my home is under control, I really don’t want to go back to being Messy Jo!
About Jo Ebisujima
Jo Ebisujima is a Montessori mama and the author of Montessori Inspired Activities For Pre-schoolers.
She helps mamas like you get stuff done whether that be getting your home under control, or getting your business off the ground. You can find out more by visiting her site at www.jojoebi.com
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