Are any Montessori parents out there? If so, then I want your input. A client of mine wants to design a Montessori bedroom for her bundle of joy. Personally, I like the principles behind Montessori education and designing a bedroom like that will prove to be a little treat for me. For those of you who are not familiar with the Montessori method, I think it is best described as an educational approach based on allowing children to learn and develop within a supportive environment, based on their attempts to discover the world. Thus, a Montessori bedroom must allow freedom of movement and promote his/her independence.
While designing a Montessori bedroom, thought goes into setting up an environment where toys, clothes, materials are within the child’s reach, making everything accessible to them for discovery and exploration. This is done so to promote child empowerment.
Hence, you will not find a crib in a Montessori bedroom. Babies may be placed on a floor bed as early as two months old. Floor beds are preferred because they don’t restrict movement. Children may get up at their own will. This naturally raises some concerns about establishing a sound sleep routine. But to be honest I think that has a lot to do with each child’s personality.
My Experience With a Floor Bed
Personally, as a mom of two, I used a crib. I didn’t adopt the Montessori approach straight away. From the age of two, we switched from a crib to a bunk bed, one that they climb onto with a ladder and has play tent under it. Very soon, I came to the realization that both of my kids were eager to “unfold” their personalities and take over just about every inch of their room. There was no stopping them. And this growing up happened a lot faster than I was prepared for or willing to accept (at times).
My little one who’s almost 2½ now, continues to try to climb anywhere just for kicks, despite the fact that almost all her toys are kept in storage boxes within her reach. Moreover, I placed their old crib mattress under their bed atop the tatami flooring we have installed in their rooms for safety concerns.
I then discovered that they didn’t have trouble taking afternoon naps on this DIY floor bed of theirs. Adoption time to a floor bed for them was literally null. When they’re tired, they’ll sleep wherever you place them. So I guess that makes me lucky. 😉
Another aspect of the Montessori approach, has a lot to do with the room’s furniture. I remember distinctly how hard it was for my mom to find small sized chairs suitable for us to sit on back in those days. Nowadays, chairs and tables downsized for children are so common. I don’t know of any kindergartens that don’t have any. And I think it’s partially due to the widespread of affordable design solutions like that from home stores like IKEA. Cheers to that!
The whole concept behind downsized furniture is to encourage a child’s interaction with his/her environment. It is believed that it reduces anxiety, while it gives a greater sense of freedom in terms of mobility and exploration – two founding principles of the Montessori philosophy. Hence, I placed in their rooms, small scaled tables, stools, chairs and floor pillows to give them options. Most of their toys are placed in storage boxes on the floor to allow them easy access to them.
Thus, I think that it has worked out fine for me. The only thing that I didn’t do was to downsize the closets, giving them easy access to their clothing. But I don’t think that this had any noteworthy drawback and helped me preserve my sanity, every time I found myself walking into a messy room…
On to You
So this is where you guys come in. What are your experiences as a Montessori parent? Any advice or recommendations/tips? I’m curious to find out what worked for you or didn’t. Any tips are truly welcome and will be much appreciated.
P.S. I thought this post with sleep tips for implementing a Montessori bedroom was an interesting read.