How to set up a minimalist Montessori Playroom?

Posted by seetal singh on

Firstly, what is a Montessori playroom?


A Montessori playroom is a clean and intentionally set up environment. Every toy has its place and is chosen according to the child’s current milestone age or developmental stage.

The toys should be placed at the child's level so they can access everything independently. The number of toys chosen should also be minimal to not overwhelm the child with too many choices.

Which is why most Montessori playrooms are of muted colours to ensure that the distractions are kept to a minimum.

 Minimalist Montessori Playroom

Why a Montessori playroom?

Having too many toys overwhelms a child causing stress and anxiety and you can definitely see this in their mood swings as well as lack of focus.

Montesori as created by Maria Montessori was to enable all children to focus on a job (or targeted play) for as long as they wanted and be able to fully learn and perform that job as well as they wanted.

Parents or caretakers were not allowed to encourage the child to play or do their job longer than they wanted to, but were asked to help them complete the job with subtle cues on how to perform them.


Sounds confusing? Well, to keep it simple, the aim was to show to the child how to perform each task (again, targeted play), but not to force them or coax them to do it should they have no interest. 

 Minimalist Montessori Playroom

Benefits of a Montessori playroom:

1. Encourages independent play. A non-overwhelmed child easily gravitates towards their activity toys without feeling the need to throw tantrums out of frustration.

2. Less cleaning up to do. Honestly parents, less toys, less mess right?

3. It looks beautiful. I mean come on!

4. No noisy toys. Oh yes, did I mention Montessori toys exclude toys with batteries, flashlights and annoying sounds?

5. Less expensive. It is easier to set up a Montessori playroom than to keep buying noisy in the hopes that the piggy sounding toys you got this time will work to keep your toddler busy.

6. Increased movement. With Montessori play, essentially, once a child picks a toy to play with, they play with it on their play mat until they are done, and then they have to place that toy back exactly where they took it from (with some prompts). This encourages them to keep moving about and learning a thing or two about; 7. Having order!

Child doing an activity on a designated area mat

How to set up a Montessori playroom?

You don't need a very big space for this. I used a small bedroom (office room) for my kids. Here's how I did it:

- Declutter. Have you kids help you with this step. You don't necessarily have to throw out what they don't use, rather store it away to swap them out in a week or two. Rotating toys always keeps children interested in their play space.

- Keep the floors empty and clean.

- Get a rug if the area isn't carpeted.

- Get small floor mats (bathroom non fluff mats will work or even small sized towels).

- Get a second hand or re-use a small-ish cube shelf. You only need one with enough cubes or space to place at least 8 to 12 different toys/activities. If you have only 8 spaces, you could rotate your toys even more often to keep your child engaged in the play area.

- Keep the toys in boxes or baskets to keep them looking neat and tidy. This removes visual clutter for kids and makes the area more inviting for them.

Here's how to use your new playroom:

1. Ask the child (regardless of age), to take a floor mat if they wish to play (a.k.a. do a job). The mat is used to designate a play area for the child in the playroom.

2. Place the mat on the floor where the child would be comfortable sitting at or playing at (a.k.a. working at). More or less like adults picking a place to work on their laptop from.

3. Ask the child to pick a toy or activity they like. Pick only one at a time.

4. Take the toy or activity to their designated play area ("the mat") and work on it for as long or as short as they want. You may teach them how to work on it if they don't know. But refrain from using too many words. Signal them instead.

5. Once the child is done (even if its just 30 seconds or less), show them how to put it back onto the shelf where it belongs. Again signal instead of using too many words. 

 Example of Montessori playroom

How to work with a limited Budget?

With the Montessori method, it isn't about spending a lot of money on fancy wooden toys. Let your child lead you based on their milestone. Play is a child's work. And they learn a lot through play.


An easy way to start is to provide tools to help with enhancing practical life skills, such as window cleaning, dusting, mopping and sweeping. Have these tools in a basket that is accessible to them at their level.


You could even set up a dressing area by hanging a few dresses and shirts with buttons. This will allow them to learn to dress up independently and really embrace their personality by giving them the freedom to choose what to wear.


If you live in Australia, then Kmart is your best friend! Kmart has a huge range of wooden (well, mdf) toys that are affordable. They are easily compostable or you could exchange them with a group of friends to keep things interesting.


I like IKEA for their cloth toys such as their food items and felt grocery basket. However, the wooden toys can be a little pricey. They do have a good selection of colours and crayons all in neutral wooden outers to keep your play area looking minimal.


The main thing to remember is keep everything to a minimum while having an orderly playroom at all times. Hence why I absolutely love toy rotation or swaps every now and then.

 muted Montessori playroom idea

To Conclude:

 

I hope you give this a try and find solace in having a clean and minimal playroom for your little ones. Also, let us know how this turned out for you in the comments below. Share your pictures with us and follow us on Instagram @petitemonk for more.

 

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