I chose my son's Montessori preschool in part because of the order and beauty of its environment. I agreed with the practices of the school and while many of these practices were things we already held important at home, I also picked up a few new take-aways and they are ones that any home can adopt:
1. Remove shoes at the door. This is an important practice at my son's preschool for keeping the indoor environments clean. Every student has indoor slippers to change into when they come in from outdoors. We've always done the same at home, going barefoot inside unless it's really cold (then we break out the socks or slippers). It really goes a long way in keeping the indoors clean and gives preschoolers lots of practice putting on and removing their own shoes.
2. Cut and arrange fresh flowers. This is actually one of the Montessori school's "works" for children to do. Pretty stems are selected from the school's garden, cut, and carefully arranged for display throughout the classroom. It brings a fresh, cheerful vibe into the preschool and will do the same for your home.
3. Water at the ready. At my son's preschool, there are indoor and outdoor water stations in the form of glasses for each child and a ceramic dispenser with a spigot. Children can help themselves whenever they are thirsty. At home, keeping water accessible promotes independence of the child and just might promote more water-drinking for everyone!
4. Hang dry. Drying racks are near the sinks in the Montessori classroom. This way, when children use a cloth to clean up after themselves, they can hang it to dry, too. A simple wooden rack does the trick and makes it easier for kids to help out with the laundry without using an electric dryer.
5. Make it aesthetically pleasing. The first four of these tips fall under this umbrella, but so does everything done within the Montessori environment. The works accomplished by the children are made of simple, natural materials. The spaces are clean and spare, yet full of visual interest. The same goes for home. Keeping things more calm and organized and caring for your surroundings benefits children and adults alike.
Does your child attend a Montessori preschool? What other details have you noticed at school that you already practice at home or that have influenced what you do at home?
(Image credits: Jacqueline Marque; Matthew Noiseux; Maxwell Ryan; The Container Store; June Bhongjan)