Montessori-ing the house: getting in the door

Well, I’ve been MIA for a while here, but I have an excuse: we just built a house.

I finally, finally, got to design everything the way I wanted it. My goal was, and is, to have a house that is usable by every member of the family, no matter how young.

When I started this post, I was going to tell you about all the lovely child-sized features we’ve built into the house. I got up with my camera to snap photos of our entryway. Then I caught sight of our front door and stopped.

I wasn’t even thinking about the door, honestly. But I had a sudden flash of clarity about doors and access, and what those say about our status in a space. So here we are.

When did you get your first house key? If you were a “latchkey kid”, you might have been eight or nine years old. Others of us were older – in junior high or high school. And what was it like not having a key? Well, look at my children’s experience, pre-renovation:

They had to knock or ring the doorbell to gain access to their own home.

They had to stand around on the porch, waiting, while I chatted with a neighbour or went to check the mail.

If we were getting into the car and a child had forgotten something, I had to switch off the car and hand over my keys so they could get into the house. Half the time they couldn’t get the key to work, so I had to get out and go help them.

Look, none of these things is a grave misfortune. But how would you feel about not being able to access your home without someone else’s assistance? On the flip side, how would it feel to be granted full access with no ifs, ands, or buts?

Here’s what we did:


For the visually impaired (or those unfamiliar with this product): we installed a deadbolt with an electronic keypad. Using the code, the kids can independently unlock the door and come into their home.

They can lock up if they’re the last ones out.

They can run back in for something they’ve forgotten.

Most importantly, they know that they have full access to our home, just like adults always have. They have a sense of ownership and responsibility for our home and its security. They know that we trust them.

Not everyone can or will replace standard deadbolts with a keypad, and that’s ok. The bigger lesson here is this: if you’re looking to “Montessori” your home for your children, examine the things we adults take for granted – like getting in the door.

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