Watch this video: 6 tips to start Montessori at home:Intro 0:14Tip 1: Observe your child…
Today, in my series Meet a Montessori-family,let me introduce you to Liane and her son Oliver. Liane took my parenting course more than 2 years ago .
You can follow her Montessori journey on Instragram.
I see Montessori as a way of life. The name of my business has always been Montessori-family as I am convinced that every family can benefit from the Montessori education. And every family will use Montessori in its own way.
My name is Liane and I am 26 years old and I live in South Devon. My family consists of myself, my husband and our 2.5 year old son. Myself and my husband have been together 10 years now and we’ve traveled to many parts of the world together, but plan to travel even more as our son gets older and show him the world. We also have a Guinea Pig named TomTom who we rescued, and he is the noisiest Guinea Pig I’ve ever heard in my life! Together we enjoy having fun, making memories and exploring.
I first came across Montessori just after our son’s 1st Birthday.
I was on Instagram looking for ways to improve our toy space and of course the beautiful ‘shelfies’ were filling my home page and I was drawn in.
The thing that resonated most about Montessori was the minimalism about it all.
It was like a weight lifted that we didn’t need all these noisy, flashy toys to ‘aid development’ as they said on the box and that actually a few thought out toys were the answer.
Another thing that resonated was the simplicity in the explanation of childhood development. I, like most parents, listened to my friends advice and read the Holly Willoughby baby book when I was pregnant and that’s the advice I was following. However, in reality neither of those sources truly understood the physical or psychological development of the child and that’s where I was falling short with understanding our son.
Once I discovered Montessori that was it, I joined Facebook groups, followed Instagram accounts and completed the Montessori Family parenting course to truly develop my knowledge.
Over a year since I started to learn, I spend my days reading books, blogs and listening to podcasts on Montessori and as an extension, gentle Parenting. It truly changed my perspective on parenting and who I am as a Mother now. My only wish is I knew about it all from day 1.
Wow, lots of environmental changes! I’m unsure where to start.
I cannot remember the order I did things but this is a rough guide.
We completely redecorated his nursery, that was the biggest thing.
Our son was in a cot bed (though mainly slept and still sleeps in our bed to be honest), we stripped all the cot sides off and lowered it to the floor to make an accessible bed for him at about 15 months of age.
We also painted the wall a subtle grey as it was previously a bright blue. We also removed the giant Disney Dumbo sticker in the middle of the wall. We then hung up book shelves accessible to his height and created a toddler wardrobe for him.
In the bathroom I then bought a foot stall so he can reach the sink, and once we started toilet learning I bought steps to go on the toilet so he can do this independently.
In our lounge where his toys are I bought shelves! I bought an accessible bookcase. We created a music station and art space too, all done overtime and it still isn’t perfect now.
He also has a ‘getting ready’ station by our backdoor.
In the kitchen we have a snack station with child size tools as well.
All the changes I did overtime and I still want to change things now. The biggest thing though was just looking at what we had, what was acceptable to keep and what really was just ‘tat’ that was of no benefit to him at all.
Emotionally as a parent I feel I’ve learnt to empathise better, I feel I understand him better and I’m a lot calmer and gentler in my approach 95% of the time (we all have bad days).
I also feel I’m more in tune with him, I slow down, observe and that helps me understand his perspective on situations too.
The Colour Tablet box. I got all excited about Montessori materials, I bought it not understanding what it’s actually for and it’s collected dust until I’ve recently just sold it.
A step for the kitchen is a must. I hear parents moan all the time that kids pull at their legs when cooking. Get a step, get them involved and let them watch. I feel if parents actually got to a child’s level they’d realise they cannot see very much at all.
A Pikler triangle. Ours was the best thing we’ve ever bought. I truly feel it is responsible for our little ones incredible gross motor skills. We put our pushchair in the garage when he was 15 months old and we’ve never used it since. I got rid of it a few months ago because it was a waste of space. He walked everywhere and now he runs, climbs and it’s fantastic.
The biggest thing in our family is independence.
‘Never do a task at which the child feels he can succeed ‘.
We really allow him the time, space and freedom to learn new things and do things independently. He can make his own breakfast, pour his water, takes his own medication (he has a heart condition, I draw up the dose), get himself dressed, take himself to the toilet, wipe the table, feed his Guinea pig, open his water bottle, put his own cream on, wash his hair and so much more. I often have moments where I worry he’s so independent he won’t need me for long but there are many things he does still need my help with and I feel better.
Overall, definitely supporting independence, providing a Yes space in our home environment (the only things he cannot access is the cleaning product cupboard and the adult kitchen knives) and that we follow his needs and interests and we parent as respectfully as possible.
We are 100% home educating our son up until he says he wants to try otherwise and if he tries mainstream school one day and doesn’t like it, home school will always be an option. If he tries mainstream school and enjoys it, I’ll equally be happy for him to stay there.
We will definitely be Montessori based in our homeschool set up, particularly with the environment set up of his free access to materials, work etc he may need. Also our approach will very much be following the child. I will not spend time teaching him about Vikings and Romans if, at that time, he’s interested in Engineering and how vehicles work. I learn best when it’s about a topic I am interested in. I cannot recall a single historical date, geographic knowledge on the anatomy of a volcano or a single word in French beyond ‘bonjour’ that I learnt in school, I simply wasn’t interested then and I have retained zero knowledge. I feel children work the same way. Teachers and parents label children so quickly as their children not paying attention in certain lessons for a multitude of reasons, but no one stops to ask if the reason is purely because the child isn’t interested. We’d also like to ‘World school’ a bit too and take him off travelling to learn about cultures first hand and live their lives.
My biggest resources are Montessori Family, The Natural Montessorian both of which have websites, Instagram and Facebook. In terms of books the Montessori Toddler is amazing and How to raise an amazing child the Montessori way are both definite reads. All of these have been great resources to me.
Don’t get sucked in to the ‘shelfies’ and don’t throw out every plastic toy in sight. Montessori is so much more than materials. Read a few books, take a course or listen to a podcast. Montessori is all about the principles first and foremost and those are more important than materials.
It helps me to learn new things and meet like minded parents. Allowing our children to use tools, give them the freedom, choice and respect Montessori parents do is very different to mainstream parenting, so it is lovely to connect with other parents who ‘get it ‘and understand the answer to ‘How can I help my child learn how to cut with a knife’ isn’t met with a response that they are too young. Instead it’s met with helpful and thoughtful advice.
Thanks you so much for answering those questions!
I hope the interview was an inspiration for you all!
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Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.
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