When I showed off my little school space I got a ton of sweet comments on how much you loved it! It got me thinking about what a Montessori space needs and how to give you tips for making your very own space! Maria Montessori really believed that the environment was one of the teachers of children! What a totally interesting way to look at interior design. The room is a teacher. So what is your Montessori space teaching? That is the question. How do you ensure that the space your children are spending time in is teaching in its own way? Well here are a few tips that I think can help as you plan your space:
1) Simple is Better: You don’t need a ton of stuff on the walls, or piles of stuff on shelves. Kids can only focus and learn concentration when there is less distractions. Like a room that is too noisy, environmental noise often makes it hard for kids to tune out. So keep art work in a contained area (like a frame, buliitain board, or line with clips) and educational posters to a minumun. I also found that those posters are more interesting if they framed or matted, and compliment your deocr. Work on the shelf is better if there is breathing room between the items. Last year I piled all of the wooden boxes of work one on top of the other. However, the girls never chose them that way. Once I separated everything and gave it room, they were more interested in it. So clear those shelves of work no longer needed or toys that aren’t nessesary! Simple is better!
2)Get Low: Seriously, sit down on your knees and see what your kids see. That beautiful arrangement family photos you put out for your baby to look at my be too high for her to see. That darling wooden train that you just know your two year old will love, maybe too high on a shelf. So climb down on the floor to see what your kids are going to need for space, height, and ease of use. However, that doesn’t mean you will always be able to fix things that are too tall. Shelves are pretty standard on height and the bathroom sink will always be high! So don’t forget to find a good step stool to help with those places where things are just where they are. Make it a part of the design of your room. That will make some of those things on the top of a shelve accessible if they need to be. It will allow you to be sure they can get what they need, while still utilizing all the space you have. This is the first step to learning independce and self ability!
3) Make it Cozy: This is your home, not a preschool, so make it a cozy space. In a school setting they need to be careful about how many soft objects they have because of the germ factor. You however, don’t need to worry about that! So add some pillows, bring a soft chair, and center the room with a rug! Cozy can make you comfortable. And there is no rule saying that learning needs to be uncomfortable! Besides, stories are just better in a big chair. When learning is comfortable it become something special that you want to do again!
4) Make it Pretty: A pretty space is one that people want to spend time in, and you are going to want your learning space to a place that is happy to be in. So add some color to the walls that you love, hang some pictures, and make it look the way you want to. It dosnt have to be really expensive or a huge undertaking. Making a space your is as simple as adding things that are beautiful to you. In my school room there is a Trojen Horse on the shelves that was my grandma’s and I love it. It has nothing to do with our school room other then I like to look at it! 🙂 Often this is where people don’t know where to start making it theirs. So start a pintrest board and pin rooms that inspire you. You will never make it look just like it, but you may find something that will help you design your room into the perfect space for your family. Start doing it bit by bit. The more beauty you can add, the more inspired your kids will be. Remember, beauty is individual! So whether bearuty to you is giant lego monsters, ethereal fairies, or a mason jar of flowers it is going to make your space special to you! And that will make the time you spend there special too! Beauty is what inspires us to make things better and giving your child beauty will help them see the good all around them.
5) Books and more Books: As an interior decorator, I know that there is really something about books that make a room real. Seriously, this is huge decorator tip, add books! If you look at any decorator magazine, in every room you will find some books somewhere! Books are real, they are personal, and they are ever changing, plus they are educational! Take time with your books. Don’t just shove them on a shelf, they are a huge part of learning and they are also a huge tool to making your learning space awesome! Place them in a basket, sort them by color, stack them on their sides, or arrange them by subject. Whatever you know will work for you! Just don’t shove them all into a closet hidden away (some maybe if you have as many as we do)! Make them an indepensible part of the room. Trust me it will make a difference in not just how the room looks, but how your kids view books in their life!
6) Add Nature: Ready for another decorators tip? Add some natural elements. Nature brings in life. It bring the feeling of peace, renewal, and freashness. So add some nature. Maybe its a collection of tresures from a walk, maybe you have a pet fish, or maybe you have a little plant to care for. Fill a jar with pretty rocks, have a vase filled with sticks you collect, or have a basket of log blocks to work with! There are a million ways to add nature to you room, and so many of them are easy and free! Its a simple way to add to the beauty of the environment! Plus you are teaching your kids that nature is special. important, and a source of information!
7) Display it with love: The room that you are creating is for your kids, so there needs to be a place to display those trasures that they will always find time to make. A picture draw well, an elephant sculpted from clay, or a robot made out of pop bottles! Whatever it is, kids are naturally creative and always ready to share their work with you and the world! So foster that love of expression by making a special place for their work to live. Stick the 3d picecs on a shelf, have childrens art frames for the wall, or a bullitain board for their art work. Find a way to display their work in an attractive way to let them know that you value the time they put into it! They worked hard and you want to praise that. Simply, placing that work somewhere special for all to see will speak volumes! Plus, you wont need to spend money on art for your room! You will have one of a kind original pieces ready for display whenever you need it.
8) Keeping it Clean: As with any space how you can keep looking good is the tricky part! So when you are placing the work on the shelves, or buying things for your room, think about how easy it will be for the kids to maintain what you have set up. Does everything have a place? Is it easy to put things on the shelf or do you have to put things a certain way to make it fit? If you have a lot of art supplies like me, are work surfaces easy to clean? Can the floor be swept or do you need a vacuum? Can the kids get to the stuff they need to help clean the space? It is a space for them after all, so they should help maintain it. That not only will give you a break, it will also help them make the room feel like theirs! So when you are planning think about the cleaning too! Keeping spaces organized is an essential skill for life, so why not start early!
9) Eclectic variety: Variety is the spice of life right? It can also add some spice to your learning space. Make sure that you have things out for working with that cover a wide variety of subject areas. You never know when your little ballerina is suddenly going to want to become an geologist because she found a pretty rock! Or maybe your avid cowboy suddenly wants to know how his body works! Sometimes new interests are started all at once and totally randomly, so having a learning space that is full of variety to support that is important. Make sure there are science materials, worldwide culture activities, natural elements to play with, and historical things to explore! Remember, learning is about more then lessons, it is about the passion and drive to find out more about something!
10) Ages and Stages: Finally, don’t forget that your child will not be the same size forever! Make sure that the space can grow with them. If you make the room way too baby oriented, then you will need to redo your work later when they are older. So make it something that they can enjoy later too. Plus, keep in mind that you want the space to be a place where older kids and younger kids can work together! If one child is older and one is younger, then if you make sure the space is compatible for both of them. When they are working together, then amazing learning happens! Plus learning to share a space is such a good lesson that is easy to learn in you own home.
So those are some tips that should help you create an awesome learning place for your kiddos! Not matter what ages you have and or where your space is, there is always a way to make it a special part of your life! Don’t forget that you don’t need to do it all at once either! Change things as you or as you find the perfect element to add. Before you know it, your learning space will be a beautiful reflection of your family! What is your favorite tip to make your learning space perfect?