You have arrived. You married the perfect one, the one you dreamed of, you have that dream job, the home with the white picket fence, and a perfect little child, who you want to grow up to be president of the United States. OK, maybe not all that, but you do want the best for your child.
As you dig into the Montessori method and its revolutionary yet simple way of thinking, you come across Montessori shelves.
What’s so special about Montessori shelves and why do you need one?
The magic of Montessori shelves is not in the shelves themselves, but instead in how they are used. After all, Montessori shelves are simply wooden shelves for kids.
In order to understand how these simple shelves can change the way your child plays and learns we need to first take a look at the Montessori method itself.
What Is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method is a way of teaching children and adolescents in cognitive, emotional, social, and physical areas, fostering within them rigorous growth that is self-motivated. The children learn in an age-appropriate environment where they are given the leeway and support to question and probe into things, and to make connections with others.
This results in confidence, enthusiasm, and learning by self-direction creating citizens who hold themselves accountable to themselves and to the community. They grow to be critical thinkers who work as a team and with integrity, act boldly.
Rather than to simply fill children with facts, the Montessori brand of education works hard at nurturing each child’s natural desire to gain knowledge, understanding, and respect. There are 5 core components of Montessori learning: Montessori certified teachers, a multi-age classroom, Montessori materials, child-directed work, and uninterrupted work periods. A Montessori shelf would be considered a Montessori material that holds Montessori materials.
What Is a Montessori Shelf and How is It Used?
These are some criteria for what makes up a Montessori shelf:
- It is made from wood (only natural materials).
- It is short in height so an infant can see what is on the top shelf. Also, so he can pull himself up and use it to walk around the toys.
- Open shelves are only a preference, but that is because so much natural light can find its way in.
- Find a simple, plain design. It should be clean, not cluttered.
- They are beautiful just the way they are. Add a little bright artwork above the shelves to bring attention to the shelves.
Your toddler can access the shelves himself for independent play. The toddler learns order when the toys are replaced in the same spot daily. Infants can even use them to pull up on and then learn to walk by holding on to them.
Do you need to be a Montessori school or a fully converted Montessori home to use one? No! Any family can benefit from adding a Montessori style shelf to their home. Here is why Montessori shelves are so clever.
Why Are Shelves Important in Montessori Teaching?
Montessori shelves serve just as much to organize a child’s playroom as it does for a child’s mind. Just like for adults, order in your kid’s physical world helps keep order in his mental world; it aids them in remaining organized and calm.
Less clutter also helps with concentration.
Your child craves independence. Montessori shelves allow toys to be out where your toddler can pick which ones he wants to play with.
If he always sees you put it back in the same place, eventually, he will pick up on it and begin putting the toy back in the correct space and help you clean up after playtime. Montessori shelves are used to help kids in being responsible for their own space.
With the toys on a visible shelf, watching what he takes off the shelf to play with, you can tell what toys may need to be rotated out and replaced with new toys. These Montessori shelves have many upsides.
How Should I Set Up a Montessori Playroom Shelf for My Child?
Whether you’re a full Montessori parent or you just dabble in it, a Montessori shelf is a great place to start if you’re looking to engage your child in more meaningful play. A Montessori shelf can help you change the way your child plays with his toys and open up a whole new world of creativity, independent thinking and responsibility.
Here are some tips on setting up a Montessori playroom for your child:
- Buy shelves that are developmentally and age-appropriate for your child. Many shelves can work for infants through preschoolers.
- Buy toys according to your child’s interests. If he likes stacking, buy blocks. If he tries to make stuff fit together, buy building logs…rolling stuff, buy balls.
- Buy products made from natural materials whenever possible.
- Buy safe toys, again, that are age and developmentally-appropriate; so, you will want to be very wary of small parts that could cause them to choke.
- Buy only a few toys. You do not need a whole lot of toys. You just need the right ones. 6-8 activities are all a small child needs to choose from.
- Rotate his toys to keep his interest.
- His toys should be functional, beautiful, purposeful, and carefully chosen.
What Should I Look For in Montessori Shelves?
Montessori shelves are simple, and yet they come in many different shapes and sizes. When looking to buy a Montessori shelf, it’s important to know what to look for in one.
There are three important things to look for in a Montessori shelf:
- The shelf should be at your child’s line of sight. This lets him see what is available and fosters his independence.
- It should be made of natural wood, as is everything in the Montessori method.
- The shelf should be heavy and sturdy so that it won’t topple when your little one uses it to pull himself up.
Where Can I Find the Best Montessori Shelves Online?
Check out some of the best Montessori shelves for toddlers. On Amazon.com and Etsy.com is where you will find them.
ECR4Kids Birch Streamline Storage Cabinet with Enclosed Back
This Montessori storage cabinet with an enclosed back by ECR4Kids is just the right height for toddlers. The dimensions are 36″ L x 12.5” W x 24″ H and it weighs 12.65 lbs. It has 5 cubbies and the top two can easily hold many of the baskets on the market today. The cabinet is made of birch hardwood, which is sturdy enough to bear a toddler’s brand of wear and tear. It has rounded corners to protect your toddler’s tender body.
ECR4Kids Birch Streamline Storage Cabinet with Open Back
This Montessori storage cabinet with an open back by ECR4Kids helps toddlers learn cause and effect. When things fall through the back, they learn that things will fall off of a shelf if pushed too far out. The right height for toddlers, the dimensions are 36″ L x 12” W x 30″ H with a weight of 24.5 lbs. It has two large shelves, a top, and bottom, and can hold almost anything you can fathom. Made of birch hardwood, it is tough enough to withstand the worst abuse. Rounded corners keep precious ones from getting injured.
ECR4Kids Birch Storage Organizer with Enclosed Back and Casters
This Montessori cabinet with an enclosed back by ECR4Kids is just the right height for toddlers. The overall dimensions are 48″ L × 13″ W × 24″ H with a weight of 46 lbs. It has 5 cubbies: 2 large cubbies measuring 23.1″ L × 12″ W × 10″ H, and 3 small cubbies measuring 15.3″ L × 12″ W × 10″ H. These cabinets are made of sturdy birch hardwood. They are sturdy and can weather the storm. They have rounded corners for the safety of your toddler.
ECR4Kids Birch Bookshelf and Organizer with Back and Casters (Also Available Without a Back)
This Montessori bookshelf and organizer (with a back or without a back) and casters is made of hefty birch hardwood that is tough enough to withstand the abuse a toddler can hand out. Without a back, toddlers learn cause and effect, but either way, the Montessori method is at work. The right height for toddlers, the overall dimensions of this bookshelf, and organizer are 36″ L x 13″ W x 26″ H weighing 27 lbs. With 2 large shelves of 34.75″ L x 12″ W x 10.75″ H, almost anything will fit.
HoneyBallKids Montessori Open Shelf Unit with Back
This Montessori open shelf unit with an enclosed back is made of 1.8 cm thick birch plywood, so it is tough. The dimensions of this shelf unit are 103 cm (Width) x 30 cm (Depth) x 72 cm (Height) or 40.55″ L x 11.81″ W x 28.35″H. The perfect height for toddlers, there are 2 shelves and 4 cubbies: 2 large and 2 small, a large and a small on top and the same on the bottom.
Hingi Children’s Mid-Century Bookcase and Toy shelf
This Montessori children’s mid-century bookcase and toy shelf is made of natural Baltic birch and white melamine Baltic birch. Its beautiful appeal fits perfectly into any room. The dimensions are 123 cm (Width) x 33 cm (Depth) x 61.5 cm (Height) or 48.5″ L x 13″ W x 24.2″ H. Just the height for toddlers, there are 2 large shelves so that your toddler can line up rows of blocks or whatever he would like.