5 Tips For Montessori Life In A Small Space
Montessori has so many materials, is it possible in a small home? With these 5 tips, it is!
Montessori is a great option for homeschooling, but it does come with its challenges, the most common one being space.
Montessori is based on using hands-on materials to help children learn and discover, largely on their own. Montessori materials are beautiful and creative…but some of them are quite large!
Does this mean you need a large homeschool space to “do Montessori” at home? Absolutely not. You can choose Montessori for your homeschool curriculum or parenting style, no matter how compact your living quarters. It just takes a little creativity and flexibility. I’ve had experience with teaching Montessori both in a tiny classroom and to my own children in a small two bedroom house.
Here are 5 tips I’ve learned to help you adapt Montessori to a small space:
Seek multi-purpose materials
If you observe a Montessori classroom, you’ll see hundreds of beautifully crafted Montessori materials. For Montessori homeschooling, it simply isn’t practical to have each and every one of these, especially if your space is limited.
Montessori classrooms have many overlapping materials that teach the same concepts. Why? Because different things appeal to different children.
Look for items that will grow with your child, that can be used to help them understand multiple concepts, or the same concept at multiple levels.
For example, the Montessori Golden Beads are used to teach place value and the decimal system, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Similarly, the wooden numerals from this Montessori-inspired number material can be used to practice number recognition. Later, the child can use the material to practice addition and subtraction.
Take advantage of printables
There are so many high quality Montessori printables out there. This is a great way to regularly introduce new materials to your child, without investing a lot of money or space.
Because printables are generally so reasonable, you won’t feel bad about recycling them or gifting to a friend when your child is done.
Here are some excellent sources for Montessori printable materials:
- Reading and Science Printables
- Nature, Language and More
- Language Printables
- Math and Geometry Printables
If you plan to use a lot of printables, you may want to invest in a small laminator.
Borrow or swap materials
There are some materials that children use again and again. Then there are others that, while fascinating and engaging, children may only use once or twice.
It can be hard to justify the cost and space for these materials. A great solution is to find other Montessori families in your area with whom to swap materials.
Check your local parenting board on Facebook or go by your local Montessori school to see if they know of any families who might be interested.
If all else fails, check eBay! You can find used Montessori materials, and can later sell yours when your child is done with them. This allows you to use a larger variety of Montessori materials without filling your whole garage with items your child is no longer using.
Use your outdoor space
Nature is an integral part of Montessori, so don’t be afraid to take the learning outside.
All you need is a small outdoor table.
You may also consider storing some of your child’s materials outside. Science materials like binoculars, nature books and a magnifying glass are perfect for keeping in the backyard.
To take it a step further, include a nature journal in your tot’s outdoor materials. Show them how to draw, paint or write about what they observe in nature, either in your backyard or at a local park. When they complete the journal, they can look through and see how nature changes with the seasons, as well as how their ability to record what they see has progressed.
Remember, it’s not all about the materials
As any experienced Montessori parent or teacher will tell you, the heart of Montessori is not solely the materials. Montessori is a way of being with children, a way of being that emphasizes mutual respect and independence.
Just as important as gathering materials that will spark your child’s curiosity and learning is setting up your space to encourage your child’s autonomy. A big part of this is having things within your child’s reach so that they can choose a work or hang up their coat without your assistance.
This too can be challenging in a small space, but not at all impossible.
Utilizing wall shelves and hooks can go a long way toward creating extra space. Look for hooks that can be easily moved, such as Command hooks.
You’ll also want to take advantage of vertical space. While Montessori materials for young children are usually placed on low shelves so children can easily reach, you may need a taller shelf and a step stool to help your child reach.
And that’s totally okay.
Your home doesn’t need to look like an Instagram image of a perfect Montessori space, it can simply be a welcoming space designed to help your child have as much independence and freedom for exploration as possible. That is the heart of Montessori.