Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Montessori Mat?

If you're like me, the first time you heard about Montessori mats- a mat that your child plays with a specific item on, you wondered why in the world you would need them.  I know I did.

At first thought, I didn't like them.  I like my kids to color outside of the lines if they want to, and the mat seemed like it would really restrict my kids' play, and therefore, their imagination.  But, my kids are slobs.  We have been working and working and working on cleaning up after themselves. And not very successfully, might I add.  I was desperate.  And the mat all of a sudden seemed like a good idea to try for this.

Colored pom poms.  Which the experts say are fantastic for sensory play.  And which I say are fantastic because I bought them at the dollar store and the kids love them!

Colored counting animals.  My kids love these although I do not understand why.  They love how "cute and little" the animals are, and their favorite thing to do with these and the pom poms is arrange them by color.

I decided to spring for $3 IKEA mats.  I presented them to the kidlets along with their new learning toys.  I explained that the toys could only be played with on the mat, and that each time they wanted to play with something they first had to clean up what they were playing with.

In their bedroom, the don't need a mat.  But if they are going to play with learning toys they must use a mat.  And the special (more expensive) learning toys are only allowed in the living and dining room.  I don't care where in the room they play with it, you can see that Moyz is basically in the hallway, but they must use a mat.  And it is working fabulously.  They are much better at cleaning up after themselves.  

Here are a few reasons stated for using Montessori mats.

Three Reasons to Use a Mat
  1. It delineates a child’s workspace. Once the work is placed on the mat the child knows that this is the area where they are working and it is to be respected by others.
  2. If a child must leave their work at any time then when they return their work is in the same place they left it. If the child has to go to the restroom, go to lunch, or is working on an activity that cannot be finished in one sitting (ie, the 100 board) having a work mat allows the child to leave and return without having to restart the activity.
  3. It teaches order. The children begin and end each activity with a work mat. It’s the first material they gather and the last one they put away.
I guess it's the whole concept of freedom within reason.  Which lets face it, in a family our size you need a little reason with your freedom to make it work!

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