When friends and family visit our house, they immediately notice things are arranged a certain way with our children's needs in mind. We've strived to be intentional in setting up spaces at our home in a way that it encourage our kids' interest for learning. The first time I heard about Montessori I was in my early twenties, and the more I studied about it, the more I felt drawn to its method of education and lifestyle. We apply the method at home through learning stations we placed in specific areas, and we also make sure to baby proof each one of our rooms so the kids are free to wander, explore and play.
Our living room is a place all of us love spending time in, my kids see it as an extension of their playroom. Instead of limiting their play area to one single room in the house, I like to let them play freely throughout the house. I see that as an opportunity to nurture their curiosity and to encourage discipline as we put toys away and tidy up together. Since the living room has always been one of the most visited rooms in the house, I decided I needed to be intentional about it.
Before you set-up a home to nurture curiosity, you have to see each space through your kids' eyes. When I was decorating our living room, I literally got down to my child's height to see what it looked like from his perspective. There I saw the shelves I could use to store his favorite toys and that's also when I got to see wires, cables and other tempting things that should be kept away from his baby sister. We baby-proofed the area by covering outlets and getting rid of things that could harm them. During the day electronics are turned off and unplugged, so there's no risk of accidents. We placed their toys in low shelves and books inside baskets. All easy for little hands to reach, so they have everything they need at the ready; that way we can foster their independence. I chose wicker baskets for their blankets and books as they go well with the bohemian style I'm going for.
Inside the entertainment center, I keep a few toys for baby girl and a few my oldest likes playing with, we also make sure to always have an easy to roll mat that Levi uses to mark a space for his activities (usually saving people from a fire, his imagination is incredible hehe). Other than that we like to keep it minimal, so it's not overwhelming and always easy to clean.
One of our most favorite things to do in our daily rhythm is to relax on the couch and read books. I usually play a cd or download an audio-book and we follow the story by turning the pages. I keep some of our books in the bookcase next to our couch. Every time the kids are ready for down time, all I have to do is to pull a book from our shelf and turn the audio on. Really convenient!
Finally, one of the things the Montessori method suggests is that we practice some practical life skills. We do that by placing different plants in each room and encouraging Levi to water them with us. It helps him care for the environment and the activity allows him to improve his fine motor skills. I hope these ideas can help you create a rich learning environment at your home too. I used to think my home should never change and that I should teach my kids their limits to explore, but after studying about Montessori, I learned to prioritize their sensitive learning periods, and there's no better way to do that than preparing my home for them. By helping them feel included.
Bruna Masalin is a homeschool mom to two, wife to David and passionate homemaker. She uses her free time to design art prints and blog about her journey as a mom.