The Prepared Environment: Kitchen & Bathroom

As I’ve been working on this series, I’m reminded of how easy it is to neglect my children’s needs in designing our home. It’s really in the details. Can they wash their hands on their own? Get a snack? Is furniture too heavy? Towels out of reach?

I’ve fixed numerous things as I’ve gone from room to room taking pictures and am taking mental notes of things to fix, amend, or add to our home. As I’m doing this, though, I’m having to remind myself that I won’t have the “perfect” environment. I don’t have the money to spend on expensive Montessori furniture and every little item. I don’t have the space for a hand-washing table or a separate reading nook or any of the other wonderful environment ideas I’ve seen in other Montessori homes.

But I can still prepare our home to fit the needs and development of our two growing boys.

The Kitchen

Our kitchen is tiny. By tiny I mean my refrigerator door can’t completely open and I have to stand to the side to take things out of the oven. It’s small, but it works. Here’s a few ways we’ve made the kitchen more available to Joey:

He has his own small kitchen with play wooden food and child-size kitchen utensils. He has a small step stool under the kitchen (this was actually my husband’s when he was a child) and his dust pan rests against the wall. I have plans to make him an apron and it’ll hang by ours.

Joey’s plates, bowls, cups, and sliverware are in the lowest drawer so that he can get out what he needs and also help set the table. We’ve chosen to forego the plastic for our children (although we use plastic snack cups & water bottle for outings along with a sippy cup as Joey’s nighttime cup).

We’ve done this since Joey was 6 months old. We waited until he was between 12-15 months to introduce him to a glass. With Otto I want to try to introduce him to a glass around 6-8 months.

Joey has been trying to get his own water using the stool and the kitchen sink. It wasn’t the safest option, so I picked up this jug from Aldi for him to use. He’s still getting the hang of it.

One thing I’ve done, but not as consistently as I’d like, is put prepared snacks on the bottom shelf of the fridge for Joey to grab when he’s hungry. By the time I snapped this picture Joey had already eaten the cheese (tall cup), blueberries, bread, apple, and orange. (And, yes, we did feed him! He had cereal and then a bowl of grapes followed by a bowl of cantaloupe!)

For thoughts and ideas on kids in the kitchen, check out my post on practical life and cooking.

The Bathroom

Our bathroom is small and at one point I contemplated putting a mirror at Joey’s level and a wash stand, but we just don’t have the room.

I’ve hung hooks for a hand towel and his bath towel. The stool by the toilet is also for potty training. Joey’s out-grown it, so now it’s strictly for standing. With the stool, the hand soap and his tooth brush are within reach.

When he was still small enough to use the “little potty” under the sink I had a small print of the larger picture that hangs in our bathroom, so he could see it too.

I’d love to hear how you’re adapting your home to fit your child. Please share…

4 comments… add one

  • Tamara July 12, 2011, 5:59 am

    Hey Jessica,
    I love your blog and what you are doing with your sons. I’m also a home educating Montessorian with a Daughter 10 and a Son 7 (my blog is I agree with you, there are so many things we could be doing to prepare our home environments. I find that cost, time, space and practicalities clash with my best laid plans. Maria did such an excellent job of comprehensibly attending to every developmental need of children (prenatally even!) that it’s easy to think we ‘have to do it all’, but really we need to ‘follow the child’. My daughter was the ‘perfect’ little Montessorian child, finishing the 3-6 yr preschool in only two years and reading a newspaper at the age of 4 yrs. She thrived in that environment and I’ve felt ENORMOUS pressure to make EVERYTHING as Montessorian as I can, if you know what I mean! As she has galloped ahead my son has lagged behind and that even at 7 years of age he can only read words in the pink card series.

    We still follow the Montessori Method but we have to modify it to the home environment, as you know. Other parts of her method are hard to duplicate without the large class environment, children bouncing ideas off each other, that sort of thing. I have found as they have grown they needed me to be their third student as well. Before I could easily step back after presenting materials to them because they were so focused on doing their own activity. Now we are into the Cosmic Education stage and we tend to discuss and contribute to each other’s understanding of the universe. The prepared environment is less important now, as we do a lot of our learning outside of the home. The car is our mobile learning environment where we listen to audio books, discuss what’s outside the car and inside our minds.

    Really loving the photos, your doing an awesome job.
    All the best,

  • Neptune July 13, 2011, 4:15 am


    I am running a similar serie on prepared home environment on my blog. I’ve just finished tackling the kitchen this week. Sine an image is worth a 1000 words, feel free to come and check it out! 🙂 There is a special button on the right hand side to open the appropriate link.

    Thanks for you posting this, it is fun to have other points of view and ideas! Great job!

  • J. Cochran July 17, 2011, 12:59 pm

    I’m so enjoying your blog. I have a nine-month old baby girl, and I’m learning all about Montessori applications at home (while baby proofing). Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!

  • Clairin August 9, 2011, 3:35 am

    Please share more ideas and photos.

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