This article is part of a video series with Sharon Rajan, a teacher at Montessori School, Bali. Sharon has over 3o years of experience teaching children 3-6 years in Montessori schools in the US and Canada.
Dr. Linnea: So I mean, this is wonderful. I’m wondering what age, like, when do you expect this to happen? Because, for example, I have three children in Montessori, and I’m constantly frustrated with the mess that they’re making. And I understand, like I understand this is a stress for a lot of mothers and, you know, with time I guess it will change a little bit, but how do you survive?
Sharon: For me, one of the keys was, one day I kind of looked around the bedroom, they were sharing a bedroom, and I looked around the bedroom and I thought, “There’s just too much. There are too many things for them to manage.” And so what I started to do was I put half of their toys into a suitcase and I put it up on top of the cupboard and half was out. This, they were able to manage. So sometimes, it’s just too much, right? But I mean, the toddlers do it, right? If everything has its place, they can do it. So I would say it’s a matter of toning it down a little bit, not having so much. And then, you know, one of the things that parents also have said to me a lot is that they want this, and they want this, and they want this. I found with my children…partly living in Rwanda there weren’t any toy stores, so that was my saving grace. But because I packed some of it away, when I brought the new things out, it was like, “Oh, I remember this.” It was exciting, the excitement had built again. If they’ve got the same stuff out all the time, it gets boring after a while, right? But if you can take some of it away and sort of rotate things on a regular…and the older child can be part of the bringing things out, “Oh, I’d like this out. Oh, how about this? Don’t want that.” You know, they can become a part of it eventually, and it becomes part of who they are, that you don’t have to have thousands of everything, right? That’s a good thing to build as well, build upon, right?
Dr. Linnea: Well, I think also, you know, coming here and seeing how the children interact in a Montessori environment, it’s just completely different…
Sharon: It’s mind-blowing. It’s mind-blowing because you’ve got 20-odd children in here, and it works.
Dr. Linnea: And their order, they keep everything tidy, and you can actually see that they enjoy doing it.