Beauty and independence are two Montessori principles that can be applied when creating an entryway for your child. I will share with you how I created a Montessori-inspired entryway for my 11-month-old twins, who are almost toddlers! An entryway area can be a small space for a child to grow in independence. In this space, they will work on the practical life skills of getting ready to leave the house. Especially where I live in Minnesota, there are a lot of steps involved in going outside!
Reasons to Create a Montessori Entryway
Creating spaces that meet a child’s needs and give them opportunities for independence is something I think is so important. Otherwise, we could find ourselves frustrated with a child leaving their shoes out or putting their coat on the floor. In order to see the behaviors we hope to see, we need to prepare the environment to encourage those actions. Let me share with you a few reasons why I think it is important to create a Montessori-inspired entryway in your own home.
A place for everything and everything its place
There is nothing worse than needing to get somewhere and not being able to find your shoes or mittens. By preparing a simple and purposeful entryway, we can give everything a place and work towards having everything in its place. If there is just one place we put our shoes, we will likely find our shoes in that place.
Order is very important to the young child. We can honor that need for order by preparing orderly spaces in their home environment. This order with help them to know where they can find their belongings. We can give each item its own place.
A Place to Sit
When learning how to put on shoes or take off boots, it is important to have a place designated to do that work. Having a child-sized chair or bench that is the perfect size for the child will encourage and likely excite these actions. This doesn’t have to be expensive, I found this adorable little bench at a thrift store for $7! Before I found this bench, I was considering buying this adjustable chair that would serve our needs through toddlerhood, which I think is another great option.
We often want to see the fruits of independence. What I mean by that is it would be beautiful to see a child at a certain age put their shoes on, and hang up their coat when they get home rather than throw it on the floor and not be able to find their mittens. Independence is not created overnight, in fact, it is fostered over years of opportunities to do things for oneself.
By creating a space that meets both the physical and developmental needs of our child we are supporting and encouraging them towards independence. The Montessori method embraces this motto of “Help me to help myself”. In our Montessori homes, we can show a child where their coat can be hung up, and where they can find their shoes and hat. Having easy access to their own jackets and shoes may help support them in independent dressing. This preparation is an investment early on, but through consistency, it will hopefully bear the fruit of more independence in the years to come.
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Elements of a Montessori Entryway
A Montessori entryway is meant to serve the purpose of supporting a child in getting ready to leave the house with the objects they need (shoes, coat, hat, gloves) and a space to put these objects on or take them off. Here are the elements of a Montessori entryway:
Bench or chair
Find a chair or bench that meets the size needs of your child. This doesn’t need to be expensive! Check out your local thrift store or search on Facebook Marketplace. Your child’s feet should be able to touch the ground. That is why I love this tiny bench I found because it is only 5 inches off the ground, which is perfect for my 11-month-old twins. A bench or chair is a great way for your child to practice putting on their own shoes. If you have a larger bench because you have some older children, you could offer a step stool that would allow your younger child to climb up to the bench, or even use the step stool as a seat.
Child-Level hook for Jacket
Hang a hook or get a coat rack that would allow your child to hang their coat up independently when they get to that stage. If you use command hooks, you can take them off without making holes in your wall, which would allow you to change the height of the hook as your child grows.
Basket or tray for shoes
Create a designated area for one or two pairs of shoes. I chose to use a small metal tray. It will be easy to wipe clean and makes putting the shoes away simple and easy. Consider a mat in this area or a tray that will allow rain boots or snow boots to dry off.
Basket for seasonal items
Some things your child may need access to depending on the season or weather may be hats, gloves, a scarf, sunglasses, or an umbrella. You could have a few baskets or a small shelf with drawers to house these items. If you have multiple children, maybe each child has their own basket that holds all of their outdoor items, so it is easy for them to find their items.
Make It Simple, Beautiful, and Purposeful
When creating this space it may be some trial and error. Use observation to see what is working, and what isn’t working and make adjustments as needed. As the seasons change, the abilities of your child, and the needs of the family this space will also evolve. Keep it simple, beautiful, and purposeful. Make adjustments as needed.
You could expand your entryway area to also be a self-care station. You could mount a low mirror by the front door to allow the opportunity to see themselves while they are getting ready to go.