Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Toddlerhood - Montessori Home Environment

First our overall situation: By the time toddlerhood fully set in, our belongings were diminished in the living room (I gained access to the storage shed on our property to give me more time and space to get rid of stuff!), our roommate was married (beautiful ceremony!) and they had rented an apartment half a block down. AND we'd officially opened the daycare in our home.

The large room became the playroom and the small room we moved into as our bedroom.

At this time, the daycare was still small enough I could continue subbing at two nearby Montessori schools. My son came with me to the one whenever I was scheduled for the infant/young toddler room or stayed with our roommate/neighbor at other times. I had also begun the first level of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd formation.

(you may want to see the infant version of this post for more background)

Living Room
As a daycare, the living room served as our main relaxation area. It is where nap-time happened, as well as where overnight children slept. Our apartment set up required one corner of the living room to serve as our dining area as well.

We had quiet reading and group reading in here, our prayer table was set up here, and any activities requiring movement (it was bigger than the playroom).

Somehow I acquired a small tv during this time. I think it was because the owner of the tv had a couple of videos he wanted me to watch so he lent me the tv to do so - or maybe it was a video project I was doing for him from an Italy trip.... In any case, the tv was small enough we could set it up when needed and put it in the closet when not in use. We used this to watch home videos for the fun of it (I also somehow long-term borrowed my stepfather's camcorder).

I had some activity trays in here for quieter working:
cutting exercises
crafty activities - gluing, paint
I'd pull out specific items I'd want the children to focus on - everything was available in the "playroom" but here I could bring out a small number of items.

The children sat at the small table together at various times; or we'd all sit at the big table at various times.

Under the sink: cloth diapers and wipes (I did not use cleaning solutions for the wipes - just water and a squirt of handsoap when needed)

Toilet lid rule: always closed when done; and I did an extra toilet ring for some of the children - it was a cushioned one with low handles on the side (some of my daycare children *really* needed those handles)

Bathtub: all shampoos and implements in one of those hard baskets in the corner, up high; child items in a cloth bag suction cupped to the side

Cleaning chemicals? We didn't really use any... toothpaste and such was kept in the cabinet; medicines and such shouldn't be stored in the bathroom anyway (moisture damages them) - so these were kept in the pantry closet, along with the all-natural cleaners we used.

I did add a spray bottle of vinegar to the bathroom contents; kept on top of the medicine cabinet. I had male daycare children. Enough said.

Under the sink: small broom and dustpan; cleaning cloths - now my daycare children and my son were learning to use these things. One spray bottle had soapy water in it to spray on tables and floors.

Lower cupboards: pots, pans; plastic storage bins (we had a lot of those at the time...)

Garbage bin: the daycare inspection lady LOVED this set-up. Tall circular bin with a swing lid. We re-used plastic shopping bags, stretched over the opening with the lid holding it in place; the other bags were stored underneath the hanging bag. Everything kept together!

Shelf for children's items: so the children could get their items themselves - dishes, cups, placemats.
Placemats: I used the same placemats for my son and for my daycare children - with the shapes of our dishes traced onto them. Very good for teaching a new child how to do things like set a table.

Additional shelf for specific practical life: learning to cut a banana or a hard-boiled egg with a dull cheese-spreader; pouring practice; anything I could peripherally supervise after an appropriate presentation. I could have gone all out into the cutesy practical life stuff here. I am so glad I didn't! I kept things simple, without a "winter" or "holiday" theme for example, so that they could be applicable to a child's life any time of year without a seasonal or holiday association. (we had themed stuff with crafts, together as a group, once in a while - never during Montessori work time and never on a tray or in anyway displayed that someone would have thought of it as "Montessori").

My daycare inspector: She was aghast when first she realized there were no childlocks on anything except the pantry door (the squeezable door-knob - I had 2 older children who had behavior issues - they did not need any easy access to anything in that closet!) - but I showed her the contents of every cupboard and drawer and explained why I was doing it that way. She seemed doubtful but impressed that it was carefully thought through. She couldn't write me up for not having sufficient child-locks, because I didn't *need* any - and I *wanted* the children to have access to certain items in those cupboards (broom and dustpan and the like).

I had a toddler bed for him and a regular bed for myself (the landlord did not want the boxsprings stored in the shed), my computer desk was in there, and our dresser was in the closet. The room was now truly just for sleeping as far as my son was concerned (at least until I share the painting story...)!

This was the Montessori classroom as well as general playroom. We had our shelves, as well as a couple of bins of more "toys" than materials. I also had rotating collections of books stored in the closet.

As a note on following the child. One afternoon my son discovered the joy of slamming a door. After the usual remonstrations, I told him I would remove the door if he slammed it again. He did. And I did. I had two daycare children there at the time - ages 8 and 10. They were in shock when I meant what I said, because their mother (as all mothers) threatened and never followed through. Children need consistency - so follow them! And follow through! ;) My son has only slammed one door once since then - and he immediately apologized!

No shoes allowed. Same reasons as before, but now I had daycare children involved; some with severe allergies.

We continued with the separation of lower and upper areas - and some of the effects of this sort of conscious thinking were taking affect. I really didn't WANT to have so much stuff that had to be put up. So what remained had to be truly worth having around.

The baskets continued for the youngest daycare children, but my son was more into the trays at this point. I do have a fantastic video of him working with the pots and pans for 45 minutes - mixing and matching lids, moving them around, placing the spare camcorder battery in one, covering it, moving the lids around, finding the battery, moving it to a new pot, etc. NOTHING broke his concentration. This was one of many moments during this time period I knew we were doing the right thing!

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