By Julia Niego
In this four-part series, early childhood educational therapist and Montessori mom, Julia Niego, details how to set up each room in your home to create a warm, Montessori-inspired environment where your little one can thrive. We’ve already covered the bedroom and now we’ll discuss the living room and entryway.
“Everything about a child should not only be in order, but that it should be proportioned to the child's use, and that interest and concentration arise specifically from the elimination of what is confusing and superfluous."
- Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood
@honeyfur.montessori.design/repost from @themodernplayroom
One of the most common complaints parents have about their baby’s arrival in the home is all of the stuff that comes along. So many times I have entered a stylish and lovingly designed living room of new parents only to find it crowded with items that clash in terms of color and aesthetic. Tidying up this space often means hurriedly piling baby items at random into containers where they are no longer accessible to the child.
In the Montessori approach a small work shelf in the living room serves as a place for a rotating set of toys carefully chosen for your child’s interests and burgeoning developmental skills. Depending on the space you are working with, the shelf need only enough room to fit a few toys. It should have an open space large enough for a child to sit comfortably before it. As they grow, babies are encouraged to choose independently, engage fully and return the toy to its place on the shelf when they are ready to move on.
Child-sized framed pieces of art or a daily schedule hung at a child’s eye level and a plant on the floor can complete the sense that this corner is just for the child.
When I first set up this shelf in our living room I was alone in my mission. Since then, companies such as Lovevery and Monti Kids have pioneered an amazing new way to have Montessori materials come to your own home when your baby is ready, starting from birth. Guidepost at Home has gone even further to provide Montessori-trained caregivers who deeply understand the philosophy and approach of freedom within structure, and can guide parents to become guides and observers as their little one takes learning into their own hands within the prepared environment.
As soon as you enter the home there can be a place for your child to participate in removing their shoes, hat and coat and putting them away. A coat rack mounted at the child’s level is perfect and will serve them for years to come. Shoes can be lined up below. Place important seasonal items such as sunscreen, your child’s water bottle and sunglasses on a tray or basket.
A hand washing station by the door can include a basin and pitcher, a little bar or bottle of soap and towels. While your child puts away their shoes you can fill the pitcher with warm water and model how to wash hands together. Washing the hands upon arriving home is the proven way to keep germs out. Most sicknesses enter our homes on our hands and good old-fashioned soap and warm water is still the best way to prevent the spread.
@honeyfur.montessori.design/repost from @andreea.fratila.tudor
Julia Niego, MS holds a BA in Behavioral Neuroscience from Colgate University, an MS in Neuroscience and Education from Columbia University/Teacher’s College, and professional certification as an Educational Therapist through University of California Riverside. Over the past decade she has founded and developed curricula for Montessori preschools, directed a local network of Montessori-at-home playgroups, and consults on progressive approaches as the founder of Neuleaph Child & Brain, LLC. She continues to pursue her fascination for the intersection of early learning and the child brain, and draws deeply on the Montessori approach as an early childhood educational therapist with a private neurospychologically-based tutoring organization in NYC.