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All The Tiny Furniture

It’s hard not to feel inspired walking into a Montessori classroom. They are, by nature, inviting and beautiful. Children move through the classroom with ease, choosing works from shelves, caring for their environment and working independently and with great focus.

It’s natural to want  to recreate this same feeling at home, but can also feel daunting. “Where do I begin?” “How do we revamp our entire house?” “Where can we find such tiny furniture!?”

When bringing a touch of Montessori into your house, it’s helpful to keep the following questions in mind: 

What are my children having a hard time doing independently?

And what changes can we make so that they will be successful?

It’s a simple mantra, easy to apply to any room in your house, and can serve as a jumping-off point when you’re ready to make some changes.

Let’s imagine that you want to rework your kitchen to encourage more independence for your preschooler. Do you want him to be able to be able to pour his own drink for dinner? Put some child-size glasses in a low drawer or cabinet and keep a pitcher of water on the lowest shelf in the fridge. My children learned to pour their own drinks sitting on the floor in the middle of the kitchen and always knew where the rags were kept for the inevitable spills.

If you want your child to set the table for dinner each night, a basket in the corner of the kitchen would be a good place to keep napkins or placemats so that she can access them without your help. You could even trace the outline of a plate, fork, spoon and cup on the placemat so that she knows where each item goes.

The hustle to get out the door every morning can leave families feeling stressed and stretched thin, so that might be another good place to apply a bit of Montessori philosophy. What does your child struggle to do independently in the morning? What part of the morning requires the most intervention from you, and how you can re-work your routine or space so that your child can do more for himself?

If your struggle starts with dressing in the morning, make sure that your child can access her clothes without your help. Can you build a set of lower shelves in a closet or put out baskets with a few outfit choices she can select herself? Does she have a mirror low enough to use so that she can brush her hair and make sure her outfit is on correctly? Would it help to allow her to select an outfit the night before?

My sons struggle to stay focused in the morning, so they both have a list of items that need to be packed for school. My older son’s list is written and posted in the hallway and our youngest son has a collection of pictures, each one representing something he needs to pack. It’s wonderful to be able to say “follow your pack list” and then be free to focus on my own packing each morning. Their independence keeps me from nagging them and empowers them to feel capable and proud of their autonomy.

So take a deep breath. Think through some simple changes you can make to invite more independence from your children. And keep that basket of rags and carpet cleaner within arm’s reach.

Written by Morgan Sprinkle