Children's playroom reading area with low bookshelf with book covers facing forward

Enriching Environments for Piccolini (Toddlers)

“We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active. “
Dr Maria Montessori<

When we set up an environment we are mindful that we are creating a space to offer the child freedom to explore without needing correction or interruption from us. 

This will become increasingly important as they move into toddlerhood and their will develops. The more they are able to follow their needs for free exploration, the more they will be able to obey us more readily when we need them to.

Toddler working at busy board with handles, buttons and locks

Consider this from an adult’s perspective for a moment: In a work environment, how do you feel on the days when you are being pulled in different directions to meetings? When you are constantly interrupted whilst trying to concentrate on an important matter? When there is no sense that your time is your own? Well, you start to feel resentful of all of these interruptions and demands. You feel depleted at having to dance to someone else’s tune, and frustrated that you are not able to work on what you need to.

This is the same scenario from the perspective of a child, especially a young child who does not yet have the cognitive skills to understand why he is frustrated or the language skills to explain that he would just like to sit quietly and work on what he needs to.

Child's playroom with cleaning tools and jug of water with glasses
A baby or young child needs unscheduled, unstructured, uninterrupted time.

The solution is a simple, ordered and beautiful space at home that provides what the child needs. 

This is a shelf in the main communal area that is dedicated to their items. Each home will be different, however this shelf should be close to where you and other adults spend most of their time – in the kitchen/lounge, for example.  Your child will want to see you go about your work in the home as he does his work. He will want to ‘check in’ with you for a cuddle, toddle over to show you something, and pull you down to his level to read him a book.

Everything should be accessible on his level so he can pour a drink, draw a picture, build his blocks, on his terms in his own time, and his own way.

Now is the time for us to sidestep the avalanche of information and products that lead us to believe that our children are helpless and useless. Young children are immensely capable, from a very young age, and we can support them in becoming capable in very small, but very powerful ways.

You can support them by creating this Enriching Environment for your Piccolini today!

Five ways to support your Piccolini:

  1. A tray with a small jug for drinking water and a glass.
  2. A basket of small washable cloths (we use square face flannels) and a small spray bottle with water in it. Provide a small basket for used cloths.
  3. One small basket containing three wooden percussion instruments.
  4. One small basket containing some plain wooden building blocks.
  5. A clipboard with several sheets of A5 paper and a jar with one crayon.
Two young children using a blender

Arrange these items on one or two shelves in your communal living area. Remove all other toys out of sight and reach.

Just start with these five steps today. I can support you to build on the environment gradually. You don’t need to do everything at once!