|Photo by Lisa Nolan.|
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!)
- My recommended Montessori and related books for infants and toddlers and parents.
- My Infant and Tot Montessori Program
- My Toddler and Threes Montessori Program