What Is a Montessori Bedroom and How Do I Set One Up?
You’re already familiar with the Montessori style of education, but just in case, it’s the idea that children learn best by doing, an approach that is said to help kids develop leadership skills, practice responsibility and be more independent from an early age. But did you know this concept can also apply to the way you set up and decorate your child’s room? Here’s how to implement the Montessori style into a bedroom—and why it just might help your kiddo get a jumpstart on learning.
1. The Governing Montessori Principle: Everything Within Reach
While it’s tempting to build out a nursery or kindergartner’s bedroom from a design perspective (come on, how cool are some of these shelving ideas?), the Montessori mindset means you need to adapt the décor to suit a child’s actual height.
In other words, if you lie on the floor (like a baby would) or sit on the ground (the approximate height of a toddler or elementary-aged kid) what can you see? And more importantly, what can your little hands access and grasp? Take your design cue from there, keeping in mind that your number one goal is to create a space that’s safe, but also inspires independent exploration—the Montessori mindset.
2. Focus First on the Bed
A floor bed (which for all intents and purposes is a mattress on the floor) is pretty much the main ingredient of a Montessori bedroom. While some make the case that you can introduce it as soon as your baby is mobile, most brands market them for ages two and up. (Btw, we love this option from Sprout or this option from Target.) But there are many benefits to this type of setup.
Unlike cribs, which require parents to “manage” the sleep and wake-up patterns of their kids, a floor bed puts the child in charge, allowing them mobility and independence. They can get out of—and get back into—their beds as they please without the help of another person. (Of course, there’s independent mobility with toddler beds, too, but the Montessori-approved floor bed has zero restrictions, and no guard rail.)
The idea is that this freedom of movement eventually teaches kids freedom of thought. When they wake up, they gravitate toward the item in the room they’re most curious about, making discoveries and exploring as they go.
3. Next, Select the Objects Within Reach
The Montessori approach also champions activities and objects that naturally sync up with developmental needs. This means that when your child gets out of his floor bed, their world—or at least the toys around them—are carefully curated with limited but inspiring choices.
So, instead of putting numerous books and toys out, zero in on a small selection. Say, this rattle, this stacking toy, these lacing beads or these rainbow bears. (We’re also huge fans of Lovevery’s Montessori-based subscription box, which sends a selection of toys that target various ages and stages once every two months.) This approach to “entertainment” allows them to truly embrace that day’s interest, but also practice better concentration skills. Plus, everything within reach means you remove yourself from the equation, no longer having to guess about or suggest activities. All that’s left is to tinker and explore.
4. Set Up “Get Ready” Stations
As you build out your Montessori bedroom, weigh other practical ways your child might use the room. For example, instead of dresser drawers that are tall and tough to see into, try a lower rail in their closet or cubbies that contain their socks and shirts. You could also set up an area that’s exactly their height with a mirror and hairbrush—or anything else they might need to get ready and out the door. Again, it’s about empowering them to take responsibility and exercise independence.
Other “stations”: A reading nook with a small basket of books (we’re talking to you, Pout Pout Fish). Perhaps even a table and chairs that are just their height for working on projects. The goal is for their bedroom to feel like a sanctuary.
5. Don’t Forget About the Wall Décor and Ambiance
Again, you want to take on the perspective of your child, so think about what art they’ll like and appreciate, and hang it at a level they can actually see. After all, what good are animal or alphabet posters (like this one or this one) if they’re so high up, your kid can’t read them?
Last but not least, since the Montessori bedroom is meant to promote a sense of calm, it’s typically painted white or a natural muted tone. This helps call attention to any art (or family photos), but it also supports a chill and relaxed environment. Remember: Your kid “owns” the space, you’re just the one setting it up for their success.