Dr. Maria Montessori, physician, educator and originator of the Montessori educational method believed that children have a natural desire to learn. Furthermore, she felt – and proved through her practical, hands-on classroom teaching – that children can be guided to learn through being given an organized environment that encourages learning.
To create this environment, she advocated having furniture that was child-sized and practical. Whenever it could be safely done, items in the classroom should really work – sinks should have water, cooking should involve real ingredients, and so on. Of course, all activities must be geared toward the child’s age and physical abilities.
By providing chairs, tables, shelving and other practical items that are child-sized, she believed that children could be encouraged to keep their things in order, and by presenting them with hands-on learning tools, such as puzzles, child-sized cleaning equipment, and costumes that could be used for role-playing, they would be encouraged to explore their world in a positive way.
Dr. Montessori worked with special education students early in her career. In 1907, she opened a childcare center for the poor in an inner-city district of Rome. Here, she was able to put many of her theories to work, offering the children materials that encouraged them toward learning activities. This included providing sturdy materials – for many of these youngsters had no idea how to take care of things – as well as materials that pointed toward math and literacy activities.
In spite of setbacks caused by two World Wars, Dr. Montessori lectured, taught, and encouraged others to use her teaching methods. Today, there are thousands of Montessori schools, teaching children by encouraging their natural curiosity and providing learning environments that include sturdy furniture and practical tools that are sized to them. You can incorporate these sturdy furnishings in your home for your child.