How to Declutter Toys the Montessori Way - Baby Chick
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How to Declutter Toys the Montessori Way

Kids come with a LOT of toys and they can create a big mess! Here's how to declutter toys the Montessori way!

Updated April 5, 2024

by Caroline Enriquez

Child Development & Early Childhood Education Specialist

The Montessori method for teaching and parenting is quickly becoming popular, and it is clear why! This teaching style 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 decisions 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! They felt brand new again once we brought them back into the rotation!

Limiting the number of toys children have access to also helps the child become more creative. The child is forced to use their imagination and creative thinking skills. Let’s face it. Parents love limiting toys as well because it reduces end-of-day cleanup!

How to Declutter Toys the Montessori Way

Here are five easy steps (you can do today!) to help declutter your toys the Montessori way.

1. Remove Old, Broken, or No Longer Loved Toys

These toys can include toys that they have outgrown, missing pieces, and completely broken toys. Anything that no longer serves your family’s purpose needs to go! I also recommend donating toys still in working condition but no longer loved by your kiddos. This gives the toy a longer life and shares 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 for teaching your child(ren) how to declutter and let go of things that no longer serve 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 the similar toys together. While grouping them, use a storage system that makes cleanup 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! Most 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 children can easily see what is available to play with, but it’s not required. These toys should be disassembled but placed with their like categories.

I prefer to have one area where 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 think that is too often. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it! Schools that use the Montessori method typically rotate toys every month. Remember, it is OKAY for your child to be bored. If they are bored with the toys they currently have, they have endless possibilities to become creative and see that toy as something else! Before you rotate toys, get rid of any toys that are now broken or that your child(ren) did not play with during this 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 and creativity and encourage self-discovery.1 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!

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Caroline Enriquez Child Development & Early Childhood Education Specialist
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Caroline is a young mom to one sweet baby girl! Caroline has an M.S. in Child Life and a Ph.D. in Child Development and Early Childhood Education. Caroline specializes in… Read more

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