The Montessori method for teaching and parenting is quickly becoming a popular method, and it is clear why! This style of teaching encourages self-discovery, emphasizes independence, and builds a foundation of self-learning. The Montessori method is huge on toy rotation, which naturally helps you declutter toys. This aims to limit the number of toys set out and allow children to be bored so they will make their own decision on an activity. I used the Montessori method when I was an early education teacher. Truthfully, I was concerned that the kids would constantly be asking for the toys that were not in rotation for that period. But they were out of sight, out of mind; no one even remembered we had them! Once we brought them back into the rotation, it was like they were brand new again!
Limiting the number of toys that children have access to also helps the child become more creative. The child is forced to use their imaginations and creative thinking skills. Let’s face it. Parents love limiting toys as well because it reduces end-of-day clean-up! Here are five easy steps (you can do today!) to help declutter your toys the Montessori way.
How to Declutter Toys the Montessori Way
1. Get rid of old, broken, or no longer loved toys.
These toys can include toys that they have outgrown, missing pieces, and completely broken toys. Anything that is no longer serving a purpose for your family needs to go! I also recommend donating toys that are still in working condition but are no longer loved by your kiddos. This helps give the toy a longer life and helps share the love with other kids!
Have your kiddos help with this process. Sort through the toys and then take your child(ren) with you to donate them. Discuss how it feels to help others and talk about other ways to help others in our lives! This can set an early foundation on teaching your child(ren) how to declutter and let go of things that are no longer serving them. The Montessori method typically focuses on keeping toys that can be multi-purpose. We especially love musical toys, practical toys, puzzles, toys that encourage movement, books, or crafts.
2. Categorize all the toys.
Any toys that go together should be organized together. For example, if the cars are not with a carport, it is challenging to use. So instead, put all alike toys together. While you are grouping them, make sure you utilize a storage system that makes clean up easy. That way, they can all be put back together at the end of that playtime!
3. Hide eight-five percent of the toys.
You read that right! The majority of your household toys should be put away and out of sight! I recommend placing them in plastic tubs in a closet, but any form of storage will work. For example, you can leave out the carport and a handful of cars but remove the rest of the cars and place them in storage.
4. Leave the other fifteen percent of toys out on open shelving.
You want your kids to have easy access to the toys. I’m talking about 10-15 toys, and that’s it! Open shelving is recommended so that children can easily see what is available to play with, but it’s not a requirement. These toys should be disassembled but placed with their like categories.
I prefer to have one area that we store all the toys. This ensures that everyone knows exactly where to find the toys and where to put them away. It is not entirely open shelving, as they are each placed in baskets, but it is what works best for us! YOU do what works best for YOU!
5. Start a toy rotation that works for YOU!
Some people can rotate toys weekly. I personally think that is too often. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it! At schools that use the Montessori method, they typically rotate toys every month. Remember, it is OKAY for your child to be bored. If they are bored with the toys that they currently have out, they have endless possibilities to become creative and see that toy as something else! Before you rotate toys, go through and get rid of any toys that are now broken or that your child(ren) did not play with during this toy rotation.
These five simple steps will help you declutter toys and introduce the art of toy rotation. Maria Montessori created the Montessori method to help build independence, creativity and encourage self-discovery. These steps help promote that inside your home. Like any other recommendation, take it, and make it your own. Your family is different from any other family, so use this information and adapt it to fit your lifestyle!