Montessori is an educational approach that was developed by an Italian paediatrician, Maria Montessori in the early 20th century. The Montessori approach is based on the premise that children are quite capable of managing their own growth and development if they are given the freedom to do so at their own pace, but within a structured environment.
Developing Independence at an Early Age
In other words, children should be allowed to develop at their own pace, choose the activities they want to engage in, and have the freedom to explore on their own. The approach is aimed at babies and children from birth to 18 years, usually in the age groups of 0 to 3 years, 4 to 6 years, 6 to 9 years, 9 to 12 years, 12 to 15 years, and 15 to 18 years, as these age groups were identified by the founder of the Montessori method as critical stages or “planes” for the development of particular skills and abilities, and for psychological and social development.
Learning to Manage their Own Space
The Montessori bedroom is based on the idea of self-discovery, where the child is allowed from infancy to decide what toys they want to play with and what activities they want to engage in, when they want to.
It follows the principle of “help me to do it on my own”, so it’s not about just letting children run wild, it is more about creating a safe and ordered space within which they can safely explore on their own. The child is encouraged to pick the toys or games they want to play with or learning activities they want to try from a limited number of age-appropriate choices, but learns from early on to then pack everything away neatly after they’ve finished with them, and to manage their own space, like their bedroom, to keep it clean and tidy. This teaches the child to act and think independently from an early age, and to take responsibility for their personal space.
Social and Psychological Development
The Montessori approach then provides children free rein, but within a structured environment. They can choose to play on their own, with a friend, or in groups, and a limited set of toys and activities are made available for them to choose from. The toys are also mainly designed to encourage learning, from tactile and sensory exploration in very young children—an example is to cut numbers or letters out of sandpaper and to stick them onto wooden blocks, so the child can trace the number or letter, feel it while seeing it and sounding out what it’s called or sounds like. In this way, multiple senses, such as touch, sight, and sound are combined in the learning experience.
It is believed that a child is innately capable of developing social and psychological maturity during specific developmental periods, as in the age groups mentioned, if they are given the freedom and gentle guidance to do so, as opposed to highly structured and rule-bound environments like conventional schools. Activities and toys are then also adapted to be age appropriate, for the learning of language at first by learning the shapes and sounds of letters, for example, then simple mathematical concepts later on by using strings of beads or an abacus.
Exploring the Natural Environment and Learning and Playing with Natural Materials
The Montessori approach also emphasizes toys and learning materials made from natural materials such as wood, glass, metal, cloth, or wool, and encourages independent, but supervised, forays into nature to explore and to collect natural objects like leaves, stones, feathers, flowers, and so forth.
Children are encouraged to explore the natural world by being put in charge of caring for a plant, or by sprouting beans and planting them out, and caring for them, and by outside play in all seasons so they learn about the natural cycles of seasons, day and night, and how the natural world responds to these cycles—i.e., trees losing all their leaves in winter, and blossoming again in spring and summer.
Why Buy a Montessori Bed?
Montessori beds are mostly floor beds, so the child can get in and out of bed by themselves safely when they choose to do so. A toddler can therefore get out of bed when he or she wants to, and then decide on a toy or an activity to engage in independently.
The emphasis is therefore on the safety of the bed for very small children to regulate themselves in terms of getting into or out of bed. It is also important in the Montessori system that the bed is made of natural materials such as wood, and the modern Montessori teachings discourage plastic toys or furniture made from non-natural materials like plastic, as they often contain harmful chemicals like BPA, and as most of us know, any toy ends up in the mouth of a baby or toddler at some point! Not only that, but toys made from plastic don’t provide the same tactile experiences that natural materials do and is felt to draw the child’s attention away from the natural world, its colors, and its textures.
At Monkey Bunks we have a variety of Montessori beds to choose from, all made from wood from certified sustainable sources, and without any paints or coverings that may contain harmful materials. In fact, many of our beds are made from sustainably sourced materials and are certified to be low VOC…many of our products are certified organic as well, look for special badges on our products so you can rest assured that you’re buying a bed or piece of furniture that is safe for your child and which is sourced responsibly—we care deeply about environmental protection and sustainability, and these principles are reflected in more and more of our products.
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