Montessori is becoming a more and more popular way of raising children. It is a style of education that focuses on the independence of the child and has proven itself with some impressive results. A form of independence can be given to a child by letting them choose their own clothes. An exciting way for the child to do this is by giving them their own wardrobe in their size!
Montessori wardrobes are toddler-sized wardrobes that are easily accessible to young children. They provide a sense of independence and self-expression for a child. Building a Montessori wardrobe can be as simple as having baskets with clothes, or using a fully built wardrobe.
Anyone in any circumstance can provide a Montessori wardrobe for their child whether it is built by hand or purchased from a variety of different sellers. Allowing your child to choose their own clothes the Montessori way will help them excel in other areas of their lives.
What is a Montessori Wardrobe?
A Montessori wardrobe, at its most basic definition, is a place where toddlers and children can easily access and choose the clothing they want to wear each day. Having a child choose their outfit for the day has great benefits for their education and development. While it might just seem like a fun activity for your child each morning, the benefits of this can convince any parent to incorporate this practice into their lives.
Benefits of Montessori Wardrobe
Like mentioned before, there are so many benefits to having a child pick out their clothes each morning. These are just some of the benefits that a Montessori wardrobe can provide a child with:
- Shows respect: One key principle of Montessori teaching is respecting the child. A huge part of fulfilling this principle is allowing the child to make their own choices without interference from a parent or other adult. The Montessori wardrobe idea allows for that respect and trust to be built. The child is trusted with the task of choosing their own clothing each day, so a mutual respect and trust is established between parent and child.
- Promotes independence and responsibility: Another very important principle of a Montessori education is providing the child with independence and responsibility. This principle is supported in many aspects of a child’s Montessori education, including a Montessori wardrobe. The act of choosing their own clothes each day builds the child’s independence as they learn to make decisions on their own. They also begin to understand having responsibilities as they are now in charge of organizing their own clothes and dressing appropriately.
- Develops self-pride and self-expression: A child with self-pride has greater confidence than one that does not. A Montessori wardrobe gives the child a sense of pride that encourages them to continue making independent choices. Using a Montessori wardrobe also gives the child an outlet for self expression. When a child gets to choose what they wear, they get to express themselves, which also gives them more confidence that they can apply to other activities.
- Teaches life skills: Self-care is an important life skill that every person should understand, and most do. When a child gets to dress themselves, it makes taking care of themselves exciting and will encourage them to enjoy other aspects of self-care like brushing their teeth, bathing, and brushing their hair. These life skills will stick with them as they develop a habit of dressing how they want every day.
How to Fill the Wardrobe
While the idea of letting the child have access to their clothes is simple enough, it is important to understand how to fill the wardrobe as the contents should be just as well considered.
Most importantly is filling the closet with seasonally appropriate clothing. By doing this, the parent does not have to intervene and break respect boundaries when the child wants to wear a swimsuit in the middle of winter. Setting out or making a few sensible options available each morning is a great way to start the child off with choosing their own clothes. As the child gets older and understands what they can wear for certain occasions, they can have more access to all seasons of their wardrobe.
Making sure that the different kinds of clothes in the wardrobe are separated in some way is another important detail. While kids at younger ages might not recognize the importance of this, as they get older, children are able to learn organizational skills through the wardrobe.
Not all Montessori wardrobes have to be expensive, stand-alone wardrobes. There are many ways to organize and set up a Montessori wardrobe and each style provides the same learning opportunities while fitting into different lifestyles better.
Baskets and Hanging Space
The simplest way of making your child’s clothes available to them in a Montessori style is by using baskets and a hanging space that they can reach, such as a child-sized clothing rack. This can be a fun activity each morning as the child can be told to pick one item from each basket to wear that day. While a hanging space is not necessary for a Montessori wardrobe, children look up to their parents, and being able to hang their shirts up the same way they do can be very exciting for them.
Building it Yourself
While just setting out baskets and installing a rod for hanging clothes at your child’s height works perfectly well and will teach them the necessary skills, having their own special place to put everything that is their size can make the process of dressing themselves every morning very fun for the child. It will also help them be excited to take responsibility for this task. Instead of buying a Montessori wardrobe from a store or seller, building one on your own is a very doable, and cost-effective option.
Buying from a seller
If you don’t feel like you have the time or skills to build a Montessori wardrobe, buying one is a viable option. These toddler-sized wardrobes are not difficult to find as there are many sellers on Etsy, Amazon, in Montessori stores, and even at any furniture store. While these can often be more expensive than the other two options, the investment can be totally worth it if more than one child will use it.
How to Build a Montessori Wardrobe
Building a Montessori wardrobe is a great way to save money on this aspect of their education. When you build your own, you can also ensure it has all the features that you want for your child. While one way is more labor-intensive than the other, we will cover how to build a Montessori wardrobe from spaces already in your home and how to build a stand-alone wardrobe for your child.
Spaces in your Home
Building a Montessori wardrobe that incorporates directly into your home is a great option for apartments or those who want to use baskets and hanging spaces and requires little building and more creating a space.
All you need to build this space are some baskets, buckets, or containers to hold clothes. The containers need to be easy to store and be able to hang from a tension rod. Organize each kind of clothing into separate baskets like pants in one, shirts in another, and socks and underwear in another one. You can organize them in any way you would like.
Each morning, your child can choose one item from each basket to dress themselves. For different seasons, you can limit the kinds of shirts in that basket to long or short sleeves.
Creating a space for your child to get to hang up some of their clothes is simple. One of the simplest ways to do this is to purchase a tension rod and find a space to install it. It can go in a closet or a small nook in their room. Make sure the rod is at about eye level for the child so they can easily hang up and take clothes off of the rod. Having the hanging rod and their baskets of clothes close to each other will help make getting dressed feel like one cohesive activity.
A Stand-Alone Wardrobe
Building a stand-alone wardrobe is a great alternative to buying one because it is a much cheaper option. This kind of project does require a lot of tools and the space to build it in, but it is worth it if you want to save money. We will outline a general way of building a stand-alone wardrobe however, there are more detailed instructions and 3D plans for a DIY Montessori wardrobe on this website.
Materials: The materials for building a Montessori wardrobe usually consist of wood boards for the frame and shelving, a sturdy dowel for the hanging space, screws, wood glue, and varnish or wood stain.
Tools: Some tools that you will need are a table saw, a straight edge, sandpaper to prevent splinters, clamps, and a brush to apply the varnish or stain.
Following a plan is the best way to make sure your wardrobe fits within measurements and gives you the space to include any features like drawers or shelving that you want. If you have the skills in woodworking to feel like you can make it up on your own, then go for it! Whether you follow a plan or make your own, these steps will help you make a wardrobe that your child will be excited to use.
- Cut your wood: The very first step in this project is cutting all of your wood to the proper sizes. Make sure to plan out your measurements beforehand so that you don’t run out of wood. Cutting your wood to the proper sizes will help you know that everything will fit together when assembling. A classic way of planning the wardrobe is with shelving or room for drawers on one half and a larger space for hanging clothes on the other half.
- Assemble the boards: This is the most essential part of building the wardrobe for obvious reasons! Use the wood glue and clamps to glue the frame together. When that has set, decide how you want the shelving to be spaced within the framing. Glue the shelving in and add clamps for stability. Use your screws to increase the stability of the wardrobe in the frame and shelving.
- Install the hanging rod: In the space on one half of the wardrobe, install the dowel so there is a place to hang clothes. Makes sure it is at a height that the child can easily reach. Use wood glue to stabilize the rod and then add screws so that it will stay put if the child pulls on it.
- Sand the entire thing: Make sure that you sand down the entire wardrobe once it is assembled. Ensure you get every part of it. Sanding it will not only protect your child from splinters, but it will also help the varnish or stain apply smoothly.
- Finish the wood: Apply whatever finish you decide on to the freshly sanded wardrobe. A varnish, a stain, or a paint are all popular options.
And you’re done! These instructions are very general, so make sure to check out the previously mentioned website for more instructions.
Best Places to Buy Montessori Wardrobes
The final option for giving your child a Montessori Wardrobe is buying one. Sometimes this option can be pretty expensive, but as long as the investment is worth it to you, the wardrobe will look very nice and you will not have to go through all the work of building one.
Buying from a Montessori shop is a great place to find wardrobes that have all of the features and styles that you could want. These can be pretty pricey but you will know that the wardrobe will work in the way that you want it to and will look pretty.
While it is another expensive option, buying from independent sellers on Etsy or similar sites is a great way to support other Montessori parents while getting a product that is well made. They can often be customized as well, giving you a lot of options.
Another option is Ikea. While they sell toddler-sized wardrobes, a great option is buying a different piece of furniture that fits the size requirements. This is such a great option because it is often cheaper and can usually be customized with other Ikea pieces like drawers or doors. While you do have to assemble it, it is not nearly as much work as building a wardrobe from scratch.