Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CeeCee's Montessori-ish Bedroom

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“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” - Maria Montessori
Those words were written a long time ago by one of the world's most revolutionary children's educators, Dr. Maria Montessori. They still ring true today.

Maria Montessori - 1933
A few of her concepts jumped out at me:
  • Allow the child to be independent and learn through exploration, play and practical work (purposeful activity). 
  • Create a safe, clean, orderly AND stimulating environment for the child
  • Do not try to "teach" the toddler. Instead allow the child to absorb knowledge from the environment around them
This barely scratches the surface of Dr. Montessori's teachings but it's a good place to start. It's not like you have to do EVERY little thing by the book. To be completely honest I plan on avoiding a few of her teaching strategies.

For example, I don't believe that infants and toddlers need to eat from glass bowls and drink from actual glasses (not plastic) in order to teach them Control of Error. I prefer to teach that lesson using spillage, not breakage, as a learning tool. Spilled milk isn't going to result in a trip to the ER for stitches. Besides teaching them to eat is supposed to be messy. That's part of the fun.
Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day mommy:)

Bedtime had always been a challenge. She hated her crib...hated it. I'm pretty sure she looks at it as baby jail. I get it. She spent the first year of her life in bed with Mommy and Daddy. A crib was a regression. We converted it into a toddler bed but still, the stigma was already there. She liked being snuggled to sleep (Who doesn't?) and that just wasn't possible in a toddler bed with a sixty pound weight limit. We had to do something. I had just delivered our youngest daughter and intended to bed-share again and the thought of have four people in one bed was giving me nightmares, counterproductive when you consider bed-sharing is meant to allow you MORE rest. We contemplated putting CeeCee on a mattress directly on the floor but I wanted to research it first.

Enter my old friend, the Internet.

Somewhere along the way I came across the term Montessori Toddler Room. Several images popped up in Google, some more pretentious looking than others. Looking at these rooms I couldn't help getting excited. I would have LOVED a room like this when I was a kid. We slowly started the process of redesigning CeeCee's room using Montessori concepts.

We wanted CeeCee to be independent in her movements and choices, at least in her own room. She sleeps on a twin mattress that sits directly on the floor. She is able to climb into bed, out of bed, read in bed and jump on the bed without any interference or help from me. Her toys are neatly organized and rotated frequently.
CeeCee's Bed
The lower shelves of her bookshelf are filled with age appropriate reading materials. She even has a little chalkboard attached to the wall so she can doodle and draw without having to ask me for help. 
A few articles of clothing are kept on a lower bar in her closet so she can choose her own outfit. Her garbage can has a pedal on the floor to open it and is short enough for her to put garbage in but tall enough to prevent her taking garbage out. On the floor sits a switch that controls the lamp in her room.

The lamp is tall enough to prevent her burning herself on the bulb, the garbage can prevents her from tipping the lamp

Naturally we spent much time childproofing. By chance all of our electrical outlets are situated above our foundation walls (basement suite) so sticking her finger in a light socket isn't a big concern. Her bed is only 8 inches off the ground, not high enough to hurt herself should she roll out in the night. Furniture is anchored and/or untippable. Her door is never closed, instead a baby gate keeps her in, preventing her from roaming the house in the night but allowing us to hear her easily.

Age appropriate books at the bottom, books for when she's older up out of harms way

So far the experiment has proven successful. CeeCee loves playing in her new room and bedtimes are, for the most part, getting easier. The only downsides are that I spent more than I had intended redecorating and that it now look like the Disney Princesses threw up in my daughters room (don't judge, she loves the "pwincesses"). I don't know how Maria Montessori would feel about it, seeing as how we kinda cherry picked the ideas we liked and discarded the ones we didn't. I like to think she would approve, once her eyes adjusted to all the pink. Oh well, CeeCee loves it and that's all that matters.

After all, it's HER world.

More pictures of CeeCee's room...

Toys are neatly organized and rotated often

Books for later and a few knick knacks

Books for now

Hopscotch anyone?

CeeCee's chalkboard. Gotta love the carpet, circa 1972:)

Floor plug for the lamp. It is basically an extension cord and available in any hardware store. Close up on the hideous carpet

Changing station. Foundation walls make a great holder for my cloth wipe setup.

Double rods in closet make it easy to put clothes at her level while keeping delicate clothes out of harms way

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