Although Plumblossom is several years away from preschool, I’ve been doing some preliminary research on various educational methods. I’m particularly intrigued by the Montessori philosophy (thanks to reader Carrie-Anne!), as it seems quite complementary to a minimalist lifestyle.
I was thrilled to discover that several of its central tenets aren’t just applicable to children; in fact, we’d do quite well to practice them as adults:
Simplicity. A Montessori classroom contains all the essentials needed for the child’s development, but nothing superfluous. Each item is carefully chosen, and serves a specific purpose.
Adult version: You can edit your home in the same way—retaining only those items that you use on a regular basis, and that make a positive contribution to your household.
Order. The Montessori environment emphasizes “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Materials are kept in small baskets on low, child-accessible shelves. The children learn that each item has a designated spot, and are encouraged to put away materials for one activity before beginning another.
Adult version: Organize your possessions in modules, so you always know where to find them. Be diligent about returning items to their place as soon as you’re finished using them, and you’ll avoid a clutter pile-up on your desk, dining table, and other surfaces.
Natural Materials. Montessori items are typically made of natural materials like wood, glass, and fabric, rather than plastic. This facilitates the child’s sensory development, and builds a deep connection with nature.
Adult version: Favor natural materials in your home for furniture, décor, and practical items: for example, glass jars, wood furniture, and wool rugs.
Beauty. Montessori materials are aesthetically-pleasing and kept in excellent condition, teaching children to respect and appreciate the objects in their environment.
Adult version: Limit your possessions to those that are beautiful and well-made, instead of filling your house with cheap, throwaway items.
Cleanliness. Children learn to care for their environment by sweeping, washing, dusting, and polishing. These activities are not presented as chores, but rather purposeful activity to build their coordination, concentration, and self-esteem.
Adult version: Regular cleaning is a wonderful antidote to clutter—dusting or vacuuming around items is such a hassle, you’re more likely to put them (or throw them) away! Focus on your flat surfaces (countertops, tables, floor), and clear off any clutter or debris on a daily basis.
A Montessori environment provides children with a beautiful, orderly space conducive to learning and discovery. It fosters their sense of calm and inner peace, by providing freedom to explore within a structured framework.
Likewise, if we incorporate similar principles into our adult lives—for example, limiting the contents of our homes to those that are useful and beautiful—we too may find the space, freedom, time, and peace to rediscover our world.
Does anyone have any experiences with, or opinions about, the Montessori philosophy?