Self-Serve Montessori Set-up

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For our first #30daystoMontessori challenge, I’m going to ask you to suspend any perfectionist tendencies you may have, and take a leap with me.

I want you to make one area of your home completely independent for your child. And you have half an hour or less to do it. Stop focusing on it being perfect and permanent — and start just thinking about what will do for now.

5-Minute Montessori Self-Serve Set-up: Encourage Independence in Your Child by Setting up Stations in Your Home for Them to Help Themselves - with setting the table, preparing a snack, bathroom independence, dressing, etc.

Challenge #1: Set Up a Montessori Self-Serve Set-up

I had plans for the PERFECT Montessori kitchen cupboard for Ella, it was going to be completely accessible, organized, and attractive. However, I had to wait until we had cleared out one cupboard to create this perfect set-up, until I had measured the cupboard and bought the perfect containers, and I had a solid two hours or so to really set it up… needless to say, that cupboard still doesn’t exist. BUT, yesterday, I pulled a side table into the kitchen, transferred Ella’s eating accoutrement onto it and called it a success. (Here is my glorious cell phone picture to prove it:)

Self-Serve Kitchen Set-up Allows Children to Practice Independence at Meal Times

Five-minute Montessori Kitchen Set-up

The small kitchen set-up is simple and really only serves the function of allowing Ella (and the other children of Child’s Garden Montessori to set their own place for snacks and meals, but it allows some independence in the kitchen and is better than nothing — which is what they would have had if I kept waiting another month for the perfect circumstances.

And, since the kitchen set-up took all of five minutes, I moved on to our small main floor bathroom and created a self-serve bathroom area for Ella. Again, I was waiting to set up the bathroom until I could order some new light-switch extenders, as our old ones don’t work with decora light switches, but the stool that I placed in front of the sink allows for Ella to still reach the switch with a bit of effort and works for now. (Here’s another cell phone picture — we’re eschewing perfect here!)

Simple Tweaks to Your Bathroom Set-up Encourages Children to Practice Independence with Self-Care10-minute Montessori Bathroom Set-up

I (mostly) emptied out the under-sink cupboard, placed Ella’s bath toys’ basket in it, as well as a basket for her hygiene items (toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrushes). I hot-glued an Ikea mirror over-top of the sink since the cabinet mirror is too high, and I have intentions to add a cute picture from our Yellow Unit to the set-up… eventually.

For toileting, we already had this set-up of a removable toilet-seat insert, a dollar store stool (that can be washed…), and a container of baby wipes so the children can independently toilet when they are ready.

Already, Ella independently brushed her teeth last night while I was washing up from supper. She enjoyed not having to wait for me and the satisfaction of independence, and I enjoyed not having to be on bathroom supervisory duty! I didn’t buy anything new, and just improvised with what we had on hand. Sure, there are improvements to both areas that could be made in time, but giving Ella that independence sooner is worth a bit of imperfection!

So, your challenge today is to spend less than half an hour creating some sort of independent set-up in your home. Whether it be emptying out the bottom drawer in a dresser and adding a couple of different outfit choices for independent dressing, or adding a small mirror and hairbrush to their night table, find a task that your child is capable of, and set up your environment to empower them to succeed. Improvise with what you have on hand, and if you see a need for addition items, add them to a shopping list for later, but don’t let anything stop you!

5-Minute Montessori Self-Serve Set-up: Encourage Independence in Your Child by Setting up Stations in Your Home for Them to Help Themselves - with setting the table, preparing a snack, bathroom independence, dressing, etc.

I’m so excited to see the different spaces that come out of this challenge — please share on social media with the hashtag #30daystomontessori and feel free to tag me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!

Challenge #1 of the #30daystoMontessori Challenge

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  1. Love LOVE this challenge! I will be joining today on my blog Mama’s Happy Hive. 🙂 Thanks for putting this challenge together and making it simple! 🙂 Excited!

  2. After reading this post, I realized just how much if my home is already set up for independence. Clothes, food, dishes, bathroom, media, games, Legos, etc. It’s nice to be doing something right!

  3. Stop focusing on it being “permanent” is the important word for me here. With a 16 month old and a 2 year old a lot of my self serve areas can’t be permanent because my 16 month old isn’t ready for the same things my 2 year old might be. Today I set up a snack self serve area for my 2 year old. I showed her how to serve herself (learned what doesn’t work in the process) then cleaned it all up before my little man had at it! Love this series!

    1. I love hearing from parents and what works for them – I’m so used to clean ups and corrections with so many kids and ages in the space. Unless something is unsafe, it just stays out and we learn how to navigate it!

  4. Thanks! As an aside, just told off by our dentist that we should not let our 3.5 year old brush his own teeth as he apparently wouldn’t have the dexterity needed. He now needs some dental treatment…

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sebnam.
      I think it’s important for both the child and parent to brush teeth at a young age, until you feel that you child is really doing enough on their own. They need to learn young, and most children do not enjoy only having the parent brush their teeth – which can create power struggles.
      It’s like getting dressed. The earlier your child can help dress themselves the better – but it’s not like you’re going to let them go out of the house without checking that what they are wearing is weather-appropriate.

  5. I am super excited for this project. I just spent 10 minutes preparing a food and dishes station, then an area with a few choices of clothes for her. She loves to feel big and I love these ideas. I took pictures but haven’t been able to add them here.

  6. I am loving your Blog! Thank you for all the wonderful ideas.
    I am very new to the Montessori Approach, though as I am learning more, I’ve found that my parenting approach is similar in may ways. (Yay!) I would like to participate in your 30 day challenge, however, my Son is only 18.5 months. I am wondering if he is a bit too young to start this. How old is your Miss G?

    1. She was 3 when I wrote the challenge but you can definitely work on setting up the environment and teaching them how to do small tasks independently. For example, at 18 months they can start scraping their plates into the garbage after a meal and bringing it to the sink (even if they can’t reach all the way). They can help with small cleaning tasks, putting away their toys, etc.

  7. This post was so inspiring! We rearranged her dresser drawers this morning so that all of her clothes were in the bottom drawers for her to reach. So excited to help her gain independence and buy me some free time not having to chase her around to get dressed. Today she chose to wear a scarf only, work in progress haha;) Thanks for encouraging us to just get it done!

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