Montessori work mat is a piece of a carpet or a rug that can be easily rolled, unrolled and transported by a child. It plays an important role in preparation for learning activities when working on the floor.
Choosing a Montessori rug might be quite challenging. Most shops offer play mats which are not suitable for Montessori purposes. They are decorated, thick, made of artificial materials and often have a rubber underlining.
When watching Montessori presentations on YouTube, the rug is the first thing that catches the eye. Unfortunately, some homeschoolers or even teachers use rugs that are in contradiction with the purpose of using a Montessori rug.
5 mistakes people make when choosing a Montessori rug:
1. Using a rug with patterns
We all like patterns because they entertain the eye which beats the purpose of using a Montessori rug. The mat is there to help with concentration, not to distract. The items on the rug should have child’s full attention.
2. Using a rug with fringes
Why do people put fringes on rugs? Because it makes them interesting! Have a look at a rug with and without a fringe. Your eyes are automatically drawn to the fringes, not to the the rug itself. Is that what you want to happen when you child is learning? Fringes are a distraction.
Also, rugs with fringes are difficult to roll. That may cause frustration.
3. Using a rug that is too thin or too thick
If the rug is too thick or lined with rubber, it cannot be rolled with ease. Unrolling and rolling Montessori rug marks a beginning and end of an activity. Nowadays, this is more important than ever because we all tend to multitask. It’s not good for adults and certainly not for a child whose souls is going through a rapid development.
On the other hand, if the material is too thin, the rug will crease which may cause frustration and isn’t pleasing to the eye.
4. Rug is too small or too large
The work rug should be appropriate to the size of materials you are going to present. All material should comfortably fit onto the mat. It’s not always possible in case of very large work but in most cases, a child should be able to place the whole work onto the mat.
On the other hand, if the material is tiny and the rug too big, then the material looks lost.
5. Using a rug that isn’t pleasing to the eye or is unpleasant to touch
Things that surround us influence our moods and a state of mind. You should choose a rug that is pleasant to look at and to touch, ideally made of natural materials like cotton.
If you can, hold the rug, touch it and see how it feels before buying. You will either feel joy and will look forward to working on it or you will have unpleasant or unsure feeling in your belly. Don’t try to persuade yourself that it will do the job. The job isn’t to put a didactic material on a mat. The job is to develop your and your child’s soul.
A simple guide to choosing a Montessori rug:
When choosing a suitable work mat, you should take into account the following guidelines:
- The best is to use a rug in a single color without patterns and fringes because the purpose of the mat is to help with concentration, not to become a distraction.
- Choose to the material carefully. It should be washable, easy to roll and made from a natural material like cotton. Avoid rugs with unpleasant odor because they most likely contain dangerous chemicals.
- Make sure the mat is neither too thick nor too thin. If it’s too thick, it might be difficult to roll. If it’s too thin, it might crease during the work and cause frustration.
- Try how the mat feels when you touch it. Does it feel pleasant?
- You may need more than one size and more than one color.
What color should a Montessori rug be?
Maria Montessori provided children in her Children’s house with carpets in various colors – red, blue, pink, green and brown.
Another part of the working-room’s equipment is seen in the pieces of carpet of various colors – red, blue, pink, green and brown. The children spread these rugs upon the floor, sit upon them and work there with the didactic material.Maria Montessori (Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook)
If you cannot afford to get more than one rug for your child, stick to a neutral beige color. If you can get more rugs, it’s nice to give your child a choice.
Colors are very powerful; they affect mood and can have a healing effect. A child might be drawn to a particular color one day, a different color another day, depending what his/her soul needs.