Today, in my series Meet a Montessori-family, let me introduce you to Shelly from @our_montessori_journey. Shelly is a Montessori teacher and has one daughter who is 4 and a baby. She lives in Australia and home educate her children. Her Instagram is inspiring, with DIY and clear info about Montessori at home.
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.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your family and about where you live?
My name is Shelly and I run the account @our_montessori_journey. I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia with my fiancé. Together we have two children aged 4 years and 4 months and he has two children aged 10 and 12 to a previous relationship that we have part time.
How did you first become interested in Montessori? What was it about Montessori that really resonated with you and how did you learn more about it?
I first became interested in Montessori when I accidentally stumbled across it during my work experience for my Diploma of Early Childhood. The respect the children were shown from the educators and the independence they were given resonated the most with me. I eventually went on to study my Diploma of Montessori for the age 3-6 through AMI from 2013-2016 in Sydney.
You were first a teacher for around 10 years (correct me!) before you had your first child. How was your experience as a teacher? What did you like the most about being in the classroom?
I loved teaching and witnessing light bulb moments. I loved watching them grow in every aspect and being able to be a part of their journey. I especially enjoyed tending to practical life and creating activities.
Being a teacher is in many ways so different to being a parent. No matter how much we know about Montessori, at home, it seems so different! What would be some of the differences between teaching Montessori and raising your children the Montessori way?
So many differences! In a school setting there is an emphasis on the materials and academics. At home and particularly for us my main focus is respect for each other and our environment as well as caring for it. Whilst those areas are still key to a Montessori classroom the materials are ranked high. We have very few materials here at home.
When parents first find Montessori, it might be because of the toys or some specific materials, piece of furniture. Is there any Montessori “branded” items you regret buying?
We’re very intentional with what we purchase and save big buys for birthdays or Christmas. Ill stew on a toy or material for a while before purchasing. When I do I’m looking to see what its purpose is, if its of my daughters interest, how long it will be used for, if it can be DIY’d. To date I don’t have any regret buys though I can see how easy it would be.
Talking about “materials”, what would be your must have items for any family?
You can never go wrong in investing pieces for your home that will promote independence. These are the only “materials” that I will ever promote. Practical life items that are child sized are also essential.
With my work, I want to show that any family can use the Montessori principles at home with their children. How would you define yourself as a Montessori Family? What are the Montessori principles that are the most important for you? (if you say to someone, we are a Montessori inspired family because we do this and that)
I define ourselves as a Montessori family because we have and continue to encourage our daughter’s independence. Practical life is a huge part of our life and is where everyone should start when wanting to implement the philosophy.
What are your future projects regarding your child’s education? (if you homeschool, talk about how it might be Montessori based). What makes you choose homeschooling over sending your child to a Montessori school (as you were a Montessori teacher so I can imagine this as an option)
We plan on homeschooling both children. How that looks will change every year and I see ourselves taking a more unschooled approach down the track. How Montessori will fit into this will be continuing to having the children be active participants in the home and practical life for every age and stage. The way that they will learn will be very hands on and the Montessori materials support this. We have chosen to homeschool because it is the lifestyle that we wish for our children and as a family. Enrolling them in a Montessori school or any school for that matter would change the way we live entirely.
Do you have a favourite resource, such as Montessori book or a blog that inspire you?
I have always loved www.howwemontessori.com and have followed her blog for 6+ years.
You have now a very young baby and a 4 year old. How was the transition from one to two? Do you have tips to ease the transition and to reassure parents to be of two children?
The transition has been easier than I expected. As usual I overthought every aspect of bringing a baby into the family and really had nothing to worry about. You don’t really know how your child will react until the baby is home. Prior to my son’s birth we read a lot of books about having a baby and being a big sister. My daughter was involved throughout the entire pregnancy from attending appointments to folding and putting away his clothes. Now she is just as involved and bathing him brings her the most joy. So my biggest piece of advice would be to involve the older child/ren in caring for the baby. Sometimes this can take up a large part of our day so if I didn’t I wouldn’t spend much time with her.
You are showing us on Instagram how you prepare the space for your baby. Would you share some guidance about setting up a baby space?
Keep it simple and make it as calm as possible. Stray away from noisy, plastic, light up toys and mobiles. Instead opt for toys that are made from natural materials that isolate a concept. Their young minds don’t need to be bombarded with colour and sound they need the opposite.
I see that you are sharing many DIY as well. How do you find the time to keep preparing activities for your 4 years old?
The evenings are my time for homeschool prep, reading a book or listening to a podcast. I only watch TV on Friday and Saturday nights. This means I get at least 3 hours of me time every night.
To conclude, do you have a favourite Montessori quote?
“It is not true that I invented what is called the Montessori Method... I have studied the child; I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.”