Take a look at a classroom in a Philadelphia Montessori school and you’ll see a space filled with wooden toys, child-sized chairs, and neatly organized shelves and boxes. But what might surprise you the most is the minimalist quality of it all. The classrooms are always tidy and uncluttered with things. Can you do the same in your household?
Turns out, decluttering your home, adopting a minimalist lifestyle, and incorporating Montessori in your daily life are all possible, because Montessori and minimalist principles share similarities.
Here’s what you need to know.
How Montessori & Minimalist Principles Connect
A major proponent of the Montessori method is a tidy environment that welcomes independence and discovery. Options are available to the children, but those options are limited. By the basic definition of minimalism, the Montessori classroom and a minimalist space are the same.
Another facet of minimalism that connects with the Montessori method is this: everything has a place. Within a prepared environment, every toy has a spot on the shelf. Nothing is dumped into a box with other items. What you have, you can see. Minimalism also means picking things up when you’re done using them to avoid clutter.
Children who see things getting returned to their proper place by adults will do the same. Yes, you can have kids and not have any mess! Imagine.
Plus, the cleaning, organizing, and decluttering process teaches children valuable practical skills. They learn how to separate what brings them joy from less important objects. During this process, they also have to wash, sweep, dust, vacuum, fold clothes, and more.
Do Children Like Minimalism?
Worried about introducing a minimalist household will affect your family? When children are introduced to a minimalist lifestyle after having excess, it could be a difficult transition. However, having less excess and more space, fewer options but more possibilities, is essentially creating a more supportive environment for your child.
You can certainly go the minimalist route at the same time you bring Montessori principles into your home, or you can be more gradual about it.
All that matters is that family life is simplified. Every child is unique, and they may all react to a minimalist space differently. It’s okay. Just because it starts out rough doesn’t mean minimalism hasn’t worked for you. Be flexible. Breathe. Stay calm and pivot around the problems.
How to Practice Montessori & Minimalism Together
So you would like to practice Montessori and minimalism at the same time. No problem. Here are some tips to help you do both successfully:
1. Get Rid of Excess Toys
How many toys does your child currently have that they played with once but never again? Which toys do they play with regularly? Is there clear sentimental value connected to specific toys? Go through the house and consider every single toy your child has with these questions. Set up three boxes: keep, trash, donate. Then enlist your child’s help.
Allow them to choose some toys that they would like to keep and explain that others are going to have to. You can assess which toys are in good enough condition to be donated.
Need help figuring out which toys to keep? In a Montessori environment, the least distracting toys are the best. That means no electronic pieces or batteries for younger children. You can keep books, wooden blocks (or items made of natural materials), puzzles, art supplies, and the like.
2. Use What You Have
You don’t have to go out and buy all kinds of Montessori materials. Chances are, you already have everything you need in your home to get started. You only have to rearrange some things. First, consider what your child is capable of doing. Set up eye-level coat hooks, get a stool for them to wash their own hands in the bathroom, and give them their own shelf and utensils in the kitchen.
This also includes getting outside. Minimalist living and the Montessori method encourage people to venture out into nature and enjoy the fresh air. Teach your child how to garden, go on hikes, and play with the pets.
3. Practice Life Skills
Experiences over “stuff.” All too often, parents confuse giving their children things with giving them affection. Montessori and minimalism both teach you to make less room for stuff and more room for living. Experiences and memories are much more valuable than objects.
In the Montessori classroom, most of a child’s “work” comes from practicing skills over and over on their own time. This might include sweeping up dirt with a dustpan, arranging snacks for the class, and cleaning windows or tables. By eliminating distractions, you open up the possibility for your child to help out around the house; they will love being included.
Keep items fresh by selecting five toys to put on the shelves in the playroom or bedroom right now. Carefully observe your child to see which toys are ignored most often. You can swap toys in and out routinely, keeping them fresh and interesting. Do the same with clothing and accessories, if your child is dressing themselves.
5. Minimalist Wardrobes
You want to give your children freedom within limits. Freedom to choose their clothing, for example, but the limitation of only a few options to make the choice simple. Also, you get to save less time on laundry, because everyone has fewer clothes.
What does a minimalist wardrobe look like in a Montessori household? Set out 3-4 pairs of shirts, pants, or other garments that are meant for the season. You can rotate out clothing whenever the average temperature shifts. Keep those mix-and-match outfits somewhere accessible, such as a basket or in a drawer in your child’s room.
No matter what your child chooses, they’ll always be comfortable, but they still have freedom to wear what they want, when they want.
Looking for a Montessori School in Philadelphia?
The Montessori way and minimalism encourage freedom through organization. The less you have to take up space, the more space you have to live, learn, and explore the possibilities. Children thrive in an environment where they have freedom to choose, even when their options are fewer.
Are you ready to put your child into a Montessori program? At Fishtown Montessori, we strive for the best for every child. Get in contact with us to learn more about our programs today.