When I was in high school, my Mom took a class on Montessori education and her constant kwento of how Montessori schools do things piqued my interest. I enjoyed the reasoning behind the Montessori practices as explained by my Mom. And now that my kids are attending a Montessori school, I try to apply the principles, too, at home (that is why I train my kids early on to be independent as this is a basic tenet of Montessori).
One of the most basic Montessori principles is to have a place for everything and for everything to be in its place (oh yeah, that line – though I have edited it a little – is actually from Benjamin Franklin). For me, this is especially important when it comes to toys and books as these two are the most frequently used by my kids. I have already blogged about how I have organized our home library so this post focuses on how we organize toys.
My kids have lots of toys… well not as many as my friends’ kids but they have enough. Because I want each toy to have a specific place, I rotate the toys. At any one time, I only have less than 20 toys in their room — the rest are kept in the storage area. Why? First, I do not have enough space for all the toys to have its specific place. Second, I have realized that kids appreciate their toys more if they have not seen it for a while. Third, in my opinion, it is not healthy for kids to think that they have so many material things as I feel it promotes a sense of entitlement. So every three months, I rotate toys (keeping what is in the room and taking out some from the storage) and the joy in their faces when it’s rotation time is priceless. It’s like they have new toys every rotation time! Imagine, the joy of new toys without spending a centavo! How’s that for cheap?! Hahaha!
We have a couple of (kid-sized) toy shelves in their room and we do not have a toy chest. Why? Because toy chests make it easy for kids to just dump everything inside it without order. On the other hand, a toy shelf encourages a kid to put back a toy in its proper place. In their classroom, the same principle is applied and their class does not have an “Ate” or a teacher’s aide to help clean the classroom; all kids are expected to pack away the materials on their own. I know this is getting off the subject but once, while having a chat with Jia’s teacher, one of her classmates spilled her baon (rice and viand) on the rug inside the classroom. The kid promptly got a broom (the small handheld one) and a dustpan and cleaned up the mess. She did not have to be told by the teacher what to do nor she needed help from an adut. Ang galing di ba? It just shows that kids, if they are taught how to do things properly, will be able to do so much without helicopter parenting. Ang galing talaga! 🙂 But anyway… 🙂
Each cubicle in the shelf has picture labels so the kids know where to put the toys back.
Although I don’t think my kids’ Montessori classroom has a place dedicated to art, my favorite part of their room is their art “corner”.
I saw a similar setup a while back in my mommy group (I cannot remember if it was a co-mommy sharing or if she was looking for a supplier). I took note of the idea and DIY’d it. I bought Lock and Lock containers and had it riveted to an aluminum rod. These serve as the container of the crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc. Then I had two “clotheslines” screwed in to serve as the art work display area. The papers they can use for art/crafts are in the leftmost/bottommost cubicle of the toy shelf, the paints are in the leftmost/middle cubicle, and the aprons are hooked just near the table. That way, the things they will need are very easy to reach.
Because the kids like art, the art display area get crowded pretty fast. When that happens, I ask them to decide which artworks to keep and which to put in the recycling box (we cannot keep everything, otherwise we will get drowned by the kids’ works! LOL!)
Super aliw di ba???? Hahaha! It is so apparent I am so proud of this! 🙂
Oh! To keep things tidy, we have a couple of rules. First, we have a one-toy-at-a-time policy. This kinda went out the window when I was pregnant so I am training the kids again to do this. Basically, they cannot play with more than one toy at a time for very obvious reasons. An exception to this rule though is when they have played with blocks and they have built a tower or a city or whatever or they have played with a jigsaw puzzle, they can proceed to another toy and just leave their creation in all its glory. 🙂 They have to pack away the blocks that are not part of the creation though.
Another rule, though some might say it’s a bit extreme, is toys not packed away will be put away and no one can play with it for a week. I put it on the topmost part of the shelf. Since they can still see it but are not allowed to play with it, they are reminded everyday that it is important to pack away. An important parent guideline here is not to put the toy away in anger. If they don’t pack a toy away after a couple of reminders, then I get the toy and put it away quietly. No fuss, no yelling. Normally they would cry but I would just talk to them patiently and let them repeat the rule. So far, I have just put away a couple of toys. After that, they (read as Joya… LOL!) have learned their lesson.
So there! Ang saya to have your kids be able to pack away by themselves and this is to easy to do if everything has its own place. 🙂 Next time will blog about the rest of their room. 🙂