Minimalism and Montessori: A Symbiotic Relationship

coast of pacific ocean
“Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of all your stuff.  It’s about focusing your family on what really matters in life.”
– Denaye Barahona

The beginning of November is a busy couple of weeks in our household as Halloween festivities are wrapped up and we direct our attention towards Thanksgiving.  For us, this time is spent taking stock of all that we are thankful for and making plans for the future.  
How we center ourselves and our environment, in an effort to achieve those goals, directly affects our level of success in both identifying what is really important to us and continuing to steer our family in the direction that supports those things in the future.  Minimalism has been a crucial component of that centering process for us, providing the clarity needed to guide us in our life’s journey together.  So for the first couple weeks of November, and again closer to spring, we clean and declutter every space in our home, choosing only to keep what is truly necessary and brings us joy.
Okay, well how is minimalism a companion to Maria Montessori’s teachings and educational philosophy?  First, the Montessori prepared environment serves to accomplish six main goals.  While minimalism can support all six, there are three goals in particular that really underscore the usefulness of this simplistic style:  freedom within limits, order, and beauty.  However, by freeing up our space of unnecessary possessions and clutter to reveal the natural order and beauty that lies within, we are creating an environment conducive to learning, socializing, and appreciating what really matters.  As environmental minimalists who practice conscious consumerism, that includes the added benefit of being able to responsibly enjoy the beauty of nature outdoors as well as indoors through the natural materials we provide in our home.  As you can see, we have now touched on all six principles of the Montessori prepared environment as they relate to our minimalism practices.
Second, the cleaning and decluttering process that is at the heart of achieving and maintaining a minimalist lifestyle is important Practical Life experience for a Montessori preschooler.  Not only are we as adults modeling care of our environment, but we are also providing an opportunity for our almost 3-year-old to take part in the process, learning important life skills along the way such as washing, folding, sweeping, vacuuming, and separating items into piles to donate, trash, or keep.  As a result, minimalism and Montessori education form a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship in our household and that is something we hope our children will carry with them into adulthood.

I could go on and on about how we benefit from a Minimalist/Montessori lifestyle so I’ll stop here for now.  As we prepare our home and our minds to celebrate Thanksgiving and look ahead towards the future, we are thankful for this lifestyle and the mindfulness that it provides, allowing us to move forward deliberately as a family unit.  If you’re looking for some resources to learn more about minimalism and your family, I would recommend checking out the folks listed below.  They have been very inspirational to us throughout our minimalism journey and we hope you check them out.

Denaye Barahona Ph.D – author of Simple Families blog and podcast.  She also offers parenting courses on how to simplify home and life for your family.  She provides readers advice on topics like decluttering, capsule wardrobes, exposing your children to “different”, doing less, and positive discipline techniques.  She is a frequent guest speaker in Montessori education forums.

Joshua Becker – author of several bestselling books and founder of Becoming Minimalist.  He defines minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value, and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”  He shares his own family’s discovery and journey towards minimalism, and offers inspiring words to others on how to simplify your life, including your possessions and your schedules, by identifying your true priorities and scheduling life around them.  He encourages folks to remember that busyness is a potentially limiting life choice and not a badge of honor, to build time for quiet, and to learn to say no to things that distract from what is most important.

Marie Kondo – organizing consultant and author of four books, including The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  She is known for her KonMari method of simplifying and organizing, which includes asking yourself if the item brings you joy before deciding whether to keep or toss.

Kim John Payne, M.ED – counselor, consultant, educator, and author of several parenting books and the Simplicity Parenting podcast.  In his book, Simplicity Parenting, Payne asks parents to consider whether we are “building our families on the four pillars of ‘too much’:  too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast.”  He believes that children can see “what a family holds dear from the pattern of their everyday lives” and that they also see “with our time and presence we give love.  Simple.”  He touches on the overscheduling of children and its effects, and how we can cultivate an environment suitable for “childhood’s slow, essential unfolding of self.”  He, like Richard Louv, believes society is waging a war on childhood and wants to help parents combat those antagonistic influences.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”