Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Montessori Home

Since we're officially putting our home on the market right after Labor Day, we might be moving as early as October. Craziness!

Before we move, I want to come up with a plan for how to make space for Henry in our next home. We'll need to think about his developmental needs and craft the environment in a way that meets those needs. We want to help cultivate his independence as much as possible, and we want him to feel like a valued member of our family.

Perhaps I should go room by room:

Henry's Bedroom:
  • He'll need a floor bed. Right now he uses a crib mattress on the floor, but I want to upgrade to something bigger, since it's hard to breastfeed him and read books to him on a small mattress. I think I'm going to order an eco-friendly, latex sofa mattress. That way, it will be thinner and lower to the ground. I'll want to get a cute duvet cover or quilt and some pillows for his bed (that we can easily remove for naps and at night) because I think a big, bland mattress wouldn't be too aesthetically pleasing.
  • If we have wood floors again, I'll need to get a cushy rug to soften the transition from Henry's bed to the floor when he rolls or crawls off.
  • We'll keep Henry's low shelf, so he can access his toys.
  • He'll need a small laundry basket, so he can help with his laundry when he's old enough.
  • We'll need to figure out how to store most of his clothes and then make a few outfits accessible at a time, so he can pick for himself. I think this will depend on the type of closet he ends up with in his room.
  • Beautiful pictures hung at his level
  • Books

Bathroom (hopefully it will be big enough to fit this stuff!):
  • His toilet on a waterproof pad
  • A little stool so he can sit down to take his training pants off
  • A mirror with a little shelf (for a brush and some tissues), so he can take care of his nose and hair (this might have to go in his room, depending on space issues)
  • Maybe a station for hand-washing? I doubt I'll have room for this in the bathroom, but maybe in the hall? Or should I just use a tall stool so he can reach the sink with supervision?
  • A hand towel on a hook at Henry's level
  • A bath towel on a hook at Henry's level

  • I want each family member to have our own separate space to store our bags, shoes, umbrellas, and jackets. I'm not sure what I want this to look like, since I don't know what kind of space we'll be working with. I'll have to keep this in mind. I'll definitely check out Pinterest when I know what I'm looking for.

Living Room:
  • Henry's toys on the bottom row of all our bookshelves. Each toy with a separate spot (no big baskets full of toys).
  • Movement mat with mirror + a bar for Henry to pull up on when he's learning how to walk
  • Ottomans instead of a coffee table
  • A plant that Henry can help water
  • A betta fish, so Henry has another pet to take care of (I'll wait until he gets older to add this)

Dining Room:
  • A little table for Henry to eat his snacks and meals at (with a stool for me to sit on)
  • A high chair that Henry can independently climb into when he's ready

  • A low shelf with a basket with kitchen utensils that Henry can explore, a basket of spices and citrus that Henry can smell, a squash or other vegetable to explore, and a basket of books about food
  • A low cabinet dedicated to Henry's snacks so he can access them himself
  • A system so Henry can feed Hoss the right amount every morning and evening
  • A hook for aprons
  • A child-size broom and dust pan
  • A self-service water station (with a water dispenser, basin to catch water, and a place to put the glasses)
  • A basket with rags so Henry can clean up his messes (and another place for dirty rags)
  • A place for Henry's dishes, napkins, placemats, and glasses, so he can set his own place at his table
  • A place for Henry to clear his dishes to
  • A small table for cooking activities and doing dishes (I'll need some bins for water)
  • A shelf with gardening tools

Miscellaneous (i.e., wherever it will fit in the house!):

  • Art easel
  • A nature corner for Henry to set up the things he collects outside

Our Bedroom:

  • Nothing! This will be a space for Matt and me.

I know Henry won't be able to use a lot of this stuff for a while, but I want to plan for it now. It's easier to leave space for it while moving in than it is to rearrange and make space for it once we're already moved in.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

REMINDER: Registration is now open for the next Purposeful Conception Course: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy, which starts on September 4. Register today!

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Mindy said...

I'm so glad you mentioned the high chair! My mother about fainted when I told her I was not planning on using a high chair or (gasp!) sippy cups!

But I was concerned that the montessori child size table would segregate the child from the family and I wasn't sure how to meld together the child doing it themselves while still getting to be at eye level with mom and dad. This seems to be a good fix.

Would a booster seat on a dining chair work in the same way? And, at what age do you think Henry will be able to use the high chair instead of his own table?

Anonymous said...

Several comments: Don't put the potty on a pad. You will just wash the pad AND the floor. Wash the floor instead. Much faster.

You can probably scrap the movement mat. If he's mobile now, he won't stay in one place very long. A mirror at eye level is a good idea, but keep in mind that he may well cruise along the walls---my granddaughter does this---and therefore that mirror needs to have no edges. He's not going to need a bar. Babies "walk" their hands up the edge of an object---sofa, coffee table, etc---and then stand. They want to be where you are, so standing at a bar on a wall is pointless to them. They will pull up on the sofa and talk to you instead. The reason they're climbing the shelves is to get to stuff.

He won't be picking out clothes til he's about 15 months old at least. Wait til he shows an interest, as it is a battle that you can postpone for a while and might as well. He's not going to be a happy compliant baby for much longer. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Please please rethink having the baby feed the dog. The nicest dog can get possessive about his food if startled, and it is much much safer to teach the baby to leave the food bowl ALONE. Have him give the dog water by pouring water from a pitcher to his bowl. Still fun, much more repeatable, and much safer.

Kelly said...

Sara, I love your lists and this looks like a great one! I agree that it's easier to plan things ahead of time - even if you don't implement them yet - so you're prepared when the time comes (especially when setting up a new house!).

Anonymous - I like the tip about filling the water bowl instead of the food - specifically about it being more repeatable. I made the mistake of letting my young nephew flush the toilet by himself once and all he wanted to do all day was flush the toilet over and over - oops!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Mindy! As far as I understand, the child eats at their separate table when they are eating meals or snacks at different times than the family. A family member can sit at their table with them by using a small stool. It's very grounding for the child to be able to sit in a chair that is their size and put their feet on the ground. It also helps them develop their independence and their sense of self-worth when they interact with material that is their size.

When they join the family at the table in a high-chair, they don't use a tray; they are just pulled right up to the table to be one of the family. You can use anything that suits that purpose. However, a high-chair that allows the child to independently climb into it (when they're old enough) is ideal. Again, the goal is to help the child help him/herself. The more they can do for themselves, the more independent they will be and the stronger their sense of self-worth will be.

@ Anonymous: Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You're right about the pad being unnecessary. I'll just clean the floor directly.

Henry definitely crawls off his movement mats all the time now. I think I'll still keep one under his mirror and bar, so he has a soft surface to fall onto when he's practicing pulling up.

You're totally right that he will use anything and everything to pull-up and cruise, but the bar is used to facilitate that development even earlier because it's narrow enough for the child to securely wrap his/her hand all the way around. I'll be using something relatively inexpensive like a curtain rod or a towel rod. He definitely won't use it for long, but I'd like to offer that initial support.

Anonymous said...

You may want a high chair with a tray for a bit. The art of self-feeding is very very messy for a new learner. The tray, with edges, holds the food til they chase it down, confines spills, and keeps the mess OFF the table. That way, there is an incentive to learn to eat neatly and sit at a big boy chair.

In addition, the high chair with tray is really handy to bring into the kitchen and let the baby "help" cook before they can stand securely. My granddaughter helps make bread by tasting the flour and sugar and salt, squishing the soft dough and then mushing flour into a bit of it. She's 8 months. No way would that be do-able at the table, which is a) over carpet and b) in a different room. It also holds her beloved ice cubes from running away.

A soft, low-ish ottoman will facilitate pulling up much better than a bar that they can't reach til they are standing. put a nifty toy on top and he'll go for it.

Nikki P said...

I am wondering how you hang pictures at Henry's level? My daughter is almost a year old & loves ripping paper. How would you suggest I hang something for her? Obviously, a hung frame won't work for us, as she will easily unhook it & possibly break it [broken glass!]. I've considered hanging a thickly laminated print up, but what would I secure it to the wall with? I am confident she could pull a print hard enough to pop out any thumbtacks & sharp, small, pointy objects at her disposal are not desirable, lol.
I love the idea of more art at her level, I'm just not sure how to achieve that...

Kelsey said...

I really love all these ideas and I'm glad you're posting about them so I can reference them later! I love the idea of including small children in all the family and household activities.

Abbey said...

Anonymous--We have a bar to pull up on bar with a mirror at the child care center that I work at, and the little ones LOVE it. They like to stand and watch themselves in the mirror. Many of them will do it for 5 minutes or so at a time!

Nikki--I'd use a cheapy frame from the dollar store or dollar bin at Target, so you know it will have plexiglass, not real glass in the front. You can use 3M hooks/stickies to secure it to the wall.

Sarah, I love reading about how you are incorporating Montessori into your home. It gives me some great ideas for my preschool classroom for the upcoming year!

kathy said...

Why no big basket of toys in the living room? Is that so he can see all his choices? Is that a Montessori thing? Just curious.

Neat post.

Kate said...

There's a cheaper option on the high chair!

It's what I'm going with.

Kate said...

Ack. I linked it to you with the baby attachments. It also works like the Strokke does as just a chair.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Kathy! Giving each toy its own spot helps children develop their sense of order (which young children are in a sensitive period for). Montessori really thought a lot about how the external environment influences the development of our internal minds. I also think it helps children cultivate care. They aren't just dumping toys into a bin; they have to put each one back in its place.

Becca said...

Everything about this post is perfect! It helps me so, so much!! Thank you for sharing!!

Kieren said...

Thanks for sharing this! I am really enjoying all of your Montessori posts. It helps me envision how I can implement these things in my own home. I like a lot of the Montessori principles that I read about, but I don't know anyone who does Montessori and I don't have any training! This is very helpful.

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