Dr. Maria Montessori coined the term “prepared environment” to describe orderly, child-friendly spaces that encourage confidence and independence. Creating this kind of environment at home doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive; simple tweaks to your existing space can make it even more inviting for your child.
Your entryway, since it’s usually busy, is a great place to start. Prepare this space ahead of time, so your child knows exactly where to find what they need and where to return it when finished. This gives your two-year-old a sense of security and independence.
Here are a few ways you can prepare your entryway to be child-friendly:
Low hooks for coats
Getting ready to leave the home allows your child to learn many practical life skills, like choosing a jacket or coat suitable for the weather. Having the appropriate items close by will encourage your child to practice self-dressing as much as possible.
Somewhere to sit and a designated place for shoes and boots
If you can, place a child-sized chair, stool, or bench in the entryway, where your child can sit while they practice putting on their shoes. If space is limited, the bottom step of a staircase or a soft rug can work just as well.
A tray, basket, or rack, where your child can keep their shoes, helps maintain order in the space and reinforces routines. Remember that less is more in Montessori; limited choices in the space help your child practice decision-making. For example, choosing between two pairs of shoes is less overwhelming than having to decide among more.
A container or drawer for seasonal items
Keeping a special place to store seasonal items such as hats, umbrellas, and sunglasses is a great chance to talk about different kinds of weather and the gear your child needs to be ready for it. Stowing winter boots may also help reduce the potential for a power struggle when your two-year-old decides to wear them in July 🙃
Wall mirror to check their reflection
A mirror at your child’s level promotes a positive sense of self and identity as they set out into the world. It also lets them see what they look like when they’re fully prepared to leave home (shoes and jacket on, backpack over their shoulders, etc). Bonus: washing the mirror is a great practical life activity 😉
Your child’s art hung at their eye level
Keeping your child’s artwork visible and at their eye level personalizes the space and lets them know their work is important. Display art in an acrylic frame or use washing tape, so you can keep rotating in fresh work.
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