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Child-oriented home

Children tend to misbehave in environments that are not suited to them. Living in a home designed for adults, it is very easy for them to become frustrated. The light switch might be too high and out of reach, chairs might be so high that the child’s feet cannot touch the floor or he/she might not be allowed to satisfy his/her curiosity by smelling the lovely vase of colorful flowers on the table and touch the leaves. In an environment like this, it would be no surprise if the child becomes restless and bad-humored.

The Montessori Method stresses the importance of a prepared environment. A truly pleasant home is suitable and comfortable for both adults and children. Even more important is safety. It is common sense for all parents to baby-proof their house by removing or changing any objects that could put the child’s wellbeing at risk. Living in a dangerous environment is unhealthy and not a good way to learn obedience.

Patricia Oriti’s “At Home with Montessori” presents parents with many ideas for creating or adapting the home environment so it is comfortable for everybody. For example, a simple strap attached to that light switch can bring it within reach, a small chair that allow the child’s feet to touch the floor, or an accessible, unbreakable vase with flowers can be enjoyed by everybody without any upset.

A welcoming environment brings many important benefits and enables children to develop skills that they will take with them through life. A child with the freedom to explore is much more likely to become alert and self-sufficient than one who is trapped in his/her playpen or walker – not trusted to play alone in the adult-orientated environment. A healthy child needs to grow up in a situation that supports his/her development rather than hinder it. An additional benefit is the lower likelihood of having to rely on home insurance to cover mishaps or accidents.

Children between the ages of 1 and 3 have an innate sense of order, so living in an orderly environment will help them to develop organizational skills. It is possible to encourage this development by using low dresser drawers with baskets inside and also using toy baskets. Oriti teaches that children as young as 2 are eager to arrange their own clothes and toys accordingly without needing to be prompted. Given the opportunity, many children are naturally neat and tidy.

Oriti also teaches that cleaning can be treated as a game. For example, even cleaning the floor can be fun if the child has a suitable sized mop or broom. Accessible dishes and child-sized cooking utensils allow youngsters to help their parents with cooking, peeling and scrubbing which not only teaches them useful skills but allows them to spend time with mom or dad rather than having to wait for dinner obediently and alone.

Natia Meehan is a theologian and certified Montessori teacher who, along with her husband Greg, has created a home environment that embraces the needs of her Clare, her 2 year old daughter. Clare’s has a low bed on the floor that is easy to get onto and a long mirror directly above that has been there since her birth. When she is tired, she knows she can sleep safely and comfortably, she can get up all by herself when she wakes and she knows her mom and dad are easy to find in the next room if she needs them. Her room is completely hers with all her pictures placed at a height where she can see them and clothes hung on low pegs that she can reach and learn to dress herself. Clare’s parents have loving and respectfully created the room to her exact needs.

Imagine a beautifully decorated child-free home with lovely furniture in every immaculate room. Now imagine it with a Little Tykes playhouse in the middle of the living room, a child-sized picnic table in the kitchen and a basket filled with toys next to a child-sized armchair. The house is still as beautiful as it always was, except now it also has all the charms that children bring. Adults and children are comfortable living there together and everybody is happy within a supportive environment that meets their needs.



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