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September 17, 2018

Introducing a Montessori Work Mat at Home

Every day Gus seems to be more and more toddler and less and less baby. And as a result he is starting to work and play differently - more purposefully. I can see that he is getting closer and closer to completing a work cycle as he plays. A work cycle means that he chooses a work, sets it up, uses it, completes it, restores it, and puts it away. Along with this Gus has been choosing to work more frequently at a work mat (or work rug). 

Introducing a Montessori work mat or rug with a toddler at home

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A Montessori work mat or rug is a small carpet that is used to help define a child's work space and speak to a child's sense of order. It gives a child a defined place to set up and use work. They also help reduce the distraction from an area rug. Finally, they can help to provide a thicker and more solid working surface. 

In a Montessori classroom, when a child chooses work on the floor a work mat is used. Here at home, I make work mats available to my children in the spaces where we have work available. They can choose to use them or not. Since we're more relaxed than a classroom environment, I don't force my children to use them, but I make them available if they so choose. But, how do you start using them? 

Gus works with this Haba Pegging Toy.

As with many things in Montessori, the answer is modeling. From the time Gus started really moving in earnest, I would show him new work on a work mat. I start by slowly unrolling it and then getting the work. Over and over, I bring work to a mat. At first, he continued to work on the floor or at the shelf. But over time, it has started to click. It also helps that he has two older examples that use mats at school and tend to enjoy using them at home as well. 

Now that he is older, if we are playing together, I frequently ask "would you like to work at a mat or at your table?" Then, he will choose. I would say its about 50/50 that he chooses to work on the floor these days versus sitting at a table. 

Gus has only recently started to clean up his mat when he is done with his work. When we work together, I model slowly rolling the rug and putting it away. Now, he is starting to remember to do that on his own. Even if he initially forgets, he will often notice it on the floor and return to roll it up. His sense of order is very strong right now and he definitely recognizes when things are out of place.

So, bottom line here is that the pressure is off and my expectations are low for Gus as a toddler when it comes to a work mat. But, it's available and he likes it! And, its just one more sign that he's really getting way too big! 

Introducing a Montessori work mat or rug with a toddler at home

Does your toddler like using a work mat? 

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indeazgirl said…
Thanks for this! I've often wondered how to set this up. I have matching cards and they definitely need to be more spread out than on a table.
Евгения said…
Where and how did you store work mats?