This week, I’m featuring Deb Chitwood of Living Montessori Now, a great Montessori resource blog that is a true mine of information. I have spent many hours exploring Deb’s site and there is still so much more Montessori gold yet to discover!
Deb has also generously provided us with our challenge for today – establishing an orderly environment.
Day 6: An Orderly Environment
I asked Deb to come up with a challenge for #30daystoMontessori and she came up with the perfect weekend challenge (as tomorrow is a catch-up day):
One tip or small challenge that takes less than 30 minutes is to make your child’s/students’ environment as orderly and attractive as possible. While it would take longer to develop a system of toys and materials in baskets or trays on shelves, spending 30 minutes or less adding order to the environment (especially if you work on it daily) can help children develop mental order and intelligence.
How to Establish Order in Your Child’s Environment
Go into your child’s main environment and identify a few areas that need some order or improvement, and figure out how to resolve those this weekend with something you either have on hand, or can obtain quickly. (Wal-mart and Target have storage bins and baskets on sale for back-to-school!)
My best solution for establishing order is to simply rotate and remove things. You might have to wait until the children are asleep, not all children can handle watching their toys get put away for later. My goal is to always have 3/4 of the toys and materials in storage at any given moment. I find that the less toys and materials that are available at any given moment, the easier it is for the children to maintain order, but also, they are better able to focus and enjoy the materials that they do have access to when they don’t have a plethora of stuff surrounding them.
I’m thinking the biggest objection will be not wanting to limit our children in their access to materials. By reducing what’s available right now, you’re not limiting their creativity or exposure, they will still have access to more materials later. What you are doing is allowing them to focus on and truly explore what they have in front of them today, inviting them to establish deeper awareness and knowledge of the materials that they do have, rather than flitting from thing to thing.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas of what to reduce or remove for this week:
- rather than a giant tickle trunk full of costumes, try leaving out just the top 3 or 5 that your children are showing interest in right now
- leave out only one or two types of each material — instruments, building blocks, art materials, etc.
- put away anything that causes conflict for now
- try to remove all but one or two items that requires parental assistance or involvement; instead, give your children the freedom of independence and assurance of capability
- try removing all non-seasonal options from your play kitchen
- leave out the emotional favourites for your child, put away the excess (i.e., Ella loves her green baby doll and it’s high chair, but could care less about the other dolls, the box of doll clothing, or the doll bassinet, so those items can go away for now)
Keep me in the loop with how you address this challenge, and what comes up for you. I personally struggle with wanting to know that I’m providing enough for my daughter, so I sometimes struggle to limit what I give her, so addressing that insecurity makes it easier to handle removing and rotating toys. I’m curious how much you manage to remove — and if you decide to put everything in storage or actually get rid of some items.
My top five favourite links from Living Montessori Now are:
- Calendar observances — if you want to create a fun theme or lesson plan, this is my favourite place to start
- Our Dinosaur Unit is my most unit study, so I have to link up to Deb’s awesome post, Montessori-Inspired Activities Using Dinosaur Replicas
- Her extensive ABC’s of Montessori series
- I’m still developing our music curriculum, and am heavily inspired by posts like this
- And, not a link to her site, Deb’s eBook: Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy