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To use or not to use mats for Montessori infant and toddler materials?

Photo by Lisa Nolan.
  Should you use mats with your infant and or toddler Montessori activities? And what are the mats for, anyway? The reason for mats is to define the child's work space, to let other children know not to walk on, over, or through another child's rug with work (materials) on it; or if children are sharing a table or sitting side-by-side, not to touch each other's activity... ideally.

A mat (or rug) also defines the work space for the materials themselves so they "do not get out of hand" (pink tower blocks strewn around the classroom!).

Mats are optional in most infant and toddler classrooms (the teacher decides whether to have them in the classroom); and some Montessori preschool classes do not use them.
If you decide to use mats, you'll need to remind your toddler to go and get a mat, and also to put it away, as they are easy to forget. You can also give a group lesson at circle: take out a mat, then go get a work, do the work, put it away, then put the mat away! (For infants, the adult goes and gets the mat, if they are an option in the environment.)

Some toddler classrooms have rugs already out with works on or next to them, so the toddler does not get the rug.

I do not use mats or rugs at home because my son's Montessori toddler teacher does not use them, and I want to be consistent.

Besides, my son would put them on his head or throw them, as he doesn't understand (yet) the use for them...

 I'd say try to use mats as early as possible, as it really helps in the long run with the advanced language and math! (Good habits start early!)

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