Montessori schools have excellent reputations in communities all over the United States. These schools are unique and tailored to help prepare children to be exceptional learners from a young age. While many people focus primarily on the raving reviews associated with educational curriculums, staff, and a varied learning experience for the children, there is another component that is absolutely essential to the Montessori strategy. We want to take a few moments to discuss some of the key factors and characteristics that make the playrooms unique and special for your little ones.
“A Montessori playroom is a carefully designed child’s environment that encourages independence and concentration. It is a clean, simple playing space with a carefully selected, limited number of age-appropriate toys.”
What makes the setup so special?
The goal of the setup is to promote focus, concentration, and independence within the child. This is often accomplished by using a simple setup with a limited number of toys and activity centers.
The playrooms will contain a balance of organized play space as well as open space where the children can imagine, interact, and express themselves. The children will also have the opportunity to enjoy a cozy environment by providing them with a warm atmosphere. When children feel safe and comfortable, it promotes their growth.
Everything has a purpose, order, structure, and organization in a Montessori Playroom. By creating order, the children are further encouraged in the program’s primary goal of promoting routine.
What will you find in a Montessori Playroom?
One of the key features is the intentional placement of age and height-appropriate furniture and play centers. The toys, activities, books, and art are strategically displayed in an organized manner on eye-level for the intended students.
One essential you will find in all Montessori Playrooms is intentionally selected artwork. Each playroom will vary, as the selection is relative to the operators and will depend largely on the children intended to learn in that space. For example, artwork for a room designed for babies should consist of black and white images. As the children grow older in the program, teachers may start gradually incorporating more advanced images. Some of these popular newer art pieces may include photos from natural landscapes, flowers, the sea, and animals. Further, a popular decor item may consist of the children’s own artwork, photos from the students’ families, maps of the globe, the United States or local attractions, and other displays. Finally, art pieces that are fun and engaging for children should include photos from various artists and other cultures. As is always the goal, the artwork should be displayed strategically at child height for the students.
One more note on decorations and environment includes providing space that contains a great deal of natural lighting. Windows that permit the sun to stream in are ideal for exposing the children to nature and natural vitamins throughout their day. Additionally, the playrooms are not complete without bringing a little bit of nature inside. One way to do this is by providing live plants, a fishbowl, or a turtle tank for the children to observe nature living amongst them. Note: the age and maturity of the children must be considered when choosing the plants and animals and their containment. Many animals naturally carry bacteria that can be harmful to children if it comes into contact with their eyes, skin, or mouth, so the animals should not be accessible to children without adult supervision. Some plants may contain choking hazards or harmful nectars. These hazards must be eradicated before the plants or animals are provided in a classroom or playroom.
Another unique feature is the design of the shelving units. As noted below, Montessori Playrooms contain fewer toys, so they also require fewer shelving units. It is preferable that one toy, or two toys maximum, are put away on a single shelf. This provides order and structure for the children, and it keeps the child from being distracted while also enabling them to easily put their toys back on the shelf.
Are Montessori toys different?
The toys selected are chosen with purpose. The primary goal is to find activities that promote engagement rather than simply entertaining the children without intentional purpose. Examples of these types of toys include puzzles, blocks, and engaging activities.
When it comes to our playrooms, the rule of thumb is less is more. Anyone who has observed children at play knows that children often flutter from toy to toy and activity to activity, busily exhausting their interest in an item. Montessori Playrooms intentionally provide only a limited supply of toys and activities. This concept allows the students to concentrate fully on the available toys or activities and master them. This is effective because rather than flitting hurriedly from toy to activity and vice versa, the children can fully engage in their playing and learning and avoid wasting time by continuous distractions.
What does this mean for a Montessori Playroom if you are in the planning or consideration stages? Montessori guides suggest that the playrooms provide eight to ten toys or activities. Research and experience show this is the ideal amount of engagement opportunities for the children.
If your space permits, open floor space is a must. The open play space in the playroom is ideal for creating opportunities and promoting the child’s gross motor skills. Giving a child space that they can move around, climb, play, imagine, and explore is incredibly important, especially in their formative years.
Are you considering designing a Montessori Playroom?
Montessori Playrooms are wonderful and unique spaces that provide a safe haven for our little ones to grow, learn, explore, and thrive.
To see an example of an ideal Montessori Playroom, consider contacting us at Mansio Montessori. From the perfectly sized furniture for our little ones, to the beautiful natural art pieces, to the classroom plants our students help nurture and for which they provide care – our classrooms and playrooms are designed with your little ones in mind.
For more information about the exceptional educational experience, we provide at Mansio Montessori, contact us by clicking here or call at: 630.232.6750.