Why a Montessori Mat is One of the Best Cheap Homeschool Materials Around?
The work mat is one of the first materials introduced in a Montessori education. Baskets of pretty rugs are often found throughout a Montessori school, and photos on Instagram show homeschool works carefully placed on top of them. Of all the materials used in at home or in the classroom, none would be complete without the Work Mat. Going beyond simply a piece of fabric, the work mat is a unique and defining aspect of learning in a homeschool environment.
What Is the Work Mat?
A Work Mat is typically a simple rug or piece of fabric. For table works, you may find trays, plates, or dishes used in place of fabric. There are enough mats for each student in the class, or homeschool room. Each student may have their own special rug or there may be community mats used by everyone. You’ll find elegant hand woven mats, simple felt mats and everything in between. Mats should be stored in an area that is easy to access, generally they’re rolled and placed in a basket or stacked nicely on a low shelf.
Why Kids Love Having A Rug in Montessori at Home?
The mat or rug exists to provide the student with a defined workspace. Students also learn gross motor skills by carefully rolling and unrolling their rug and placing the rug into its proper storage space. In organizing their work on the mat, a student begins to learn about an ordered environment. This is especially important when you are doing Montessori at home and don’t have a fixed space to do lessons. By utilizing a Work Mat, the student has a defined top, middle, bottom as well as left and right in their work space. This helps with works involving sorting and organizing. The top to bottom, left to right reading and writing skills are also reinforced by using a mat.
When multiple students are working together in a classroom, the use of a rug helps avoid conflict among students trying to find a spot to work.
Use of a rug also helps provide a clear walking path without concern of stepping on top of classmates and helps to teach personal space. The Work Mat is a critical aspect to maintaining the organized Grace & Courtesy aspect Montessori classes are known for.
When and How to Use The Rug?
A student will choose a Work Mat, or tray, for every work. The student selects a mat, unrolls it in their desired workspace and places one work at a time on it. After completing a work, it should be returned to the proper spot on the shelf before a new work is selected. When a student is given a lesson on a new work, they’re also taught how to position the work within the mat. For many sensorial and art works, a simple cloth which can easily be wiped off may be preferable so the student can independently clean up any messes.
How Is the Mat Introduced?
Introduction of the Work Mat is one of the first lessons presented to a Montessori student. The teacher, or parent, will place the rug out and give a Three-Period lesson on the mat.
Read this blog post here if you don’t know what the three period lesson is.
ShillerLearning: Larry Shows How to Use Montessori's Three Period Lesson
Students are taught that this cloth is to be used by one student for one work at a time. Plenty of time is given to let the child practice rolling up the mat and returning it to the proper space when complete. Sometimes several lessons will be given over a few days covering the proper use and care of the mat.
My Very Own Space!
Students often love the use of the mat and desire to have the same kind of space in other areas in their life.
Parents have incorporated a mat concept into their homeschool materials to help siblings with a defined space for play, eating and relaxing.
Just think of it like placemats at the dinner table. Children love to have their own space they can decorate and control! Consider providing your children with a rug for school and a rug for their own use at other times. Our homeschool parents often use the mat included in our kits outside of regular lessons.
Looking for more tips on how to make your home and school more peaceful, relaxed and organized?
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Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.