Meet a Montessori Family: Us in London

Today, in my series Meet a Montessori-family, let me introduce you to Kate from  @us_in_london. Kate and her husband lives in London, UK and they have a 2 years old son. Kate shares about their family life in London and how they do Montessori in a small flat. 

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 Kate and I live in London with my husband and our 2 year old son Denis. My husband and I are both Russian and we have been living in the UK for over 10 years.

I am a part-time working mum. I feel lucky to be able to do what I love professionally and also spend a fair bit of time with our son. He inspires me every day!

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?

When Denis turned 1, it was absolutely impossible to cook while he was around. He wanted to be in my arms the whole time and see everything that was going on.

At that point, I didn’t know about the existence of learning towers. I bought a book about Montessori because I thought it had some activity ideas for kids. I was hoping that I could set up some activities on the floor for him and finally cook in peace!

Luckily, I found more than activities. Every line in that book resonated so much with our parenting style. Needless to say, when I let Denis participate in cooking instead of trying to distract him from it, my life became easier!

What changes did you make in your parenting style since you have discovered Montessori?

I’ve started paying more attention to how things look from Denis’ perspective and asking myself the question: are we enabling his growing independence?

While I always tried to give him as much freedom of choice as I could, I never thought about how much of an impact the environment can have. But how can I expect that Denis will put away clothes by himself one day if the drawer we keep his clothes in is out of his reach?

It was like a breath of fresh air. He took all the little changes in our home so well. It almost looked like he was longing for that independence.

When parents first find Montessori, it might be because of the toys or some specific materials, piece of furniture. Are there any Montessori “branded” items you regret buying?

Luckily, there hasn’t been anything like that so far!

But there is one thing I considered buying and I’m glad that I didn’t: a Pikler triangle. Although it is not a Montessori material, it is a loved item among many Montessori parents.

I borrowed a Pikler to make the final purchasing decision. Our son just ignored it and continued climbing furniture. We kept it for a month and then gave it back.

I still think it is a great item for many toddlers, it just did not work for us.

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)

We are in no way perfect, but I would say that we always try to give freedom within limits and avoid interrupting our son when not necessary. We also let him learn at his own pace.

Do you have a favourite resource, such as a Montessori book or a blog that inspires you?

Your blog and Facebook group are great sources of inspiration to me. I also love the blog called “How We Montessori”, and get inspired by many parents I have a chance to connect with through Instagram.

“The Montessori Toddler” book by Simone Davies was the first one I read about Montessori and it ultimately inspired me to learn more.

I believe you live in a flat in London. How do you apply Montessori with the extra challenges of small space, renting, maybe no access to an outdoor space?

As much as I would love a bigger house with more empty space and a garden, I think that having a small flat might be a blessing in disguise. It always pushes me to consider what is really important.

When I just discovered Montessori, I was really inspired by some of the functional kitchens in Montessori homes featuring water dispensers. We didn’t have enough space for one. I had to really think about what I was trying to achieve. In the end, we settled on just having a water jug available at our son’s level. It gives him independence and takes up less space.

I am glad that having a smaller space encourages us not to overbuy. Independence can be enabled in a space of any size. Having a garden would have been great though!

Is your partner fully on board with Montessori? (to talk about how both parents can embrace Montessori)

My husband has not read a single thing about Montessori, but he is fully on board with this way of parenting. He can see that Denis is thriving when given freedom within limits. Both of us try to enable as much freedom and independence as we can.

Not to say that we agree on everything, though, and we definitely don’t do everything the same way. My husband is more relaxed about toy rotations, for example. When he plays together with Denis, they sometimes get out toys that are not in rotation, which I always try to avoid.

I don’t see it as a negative thing. I am glad that Denis gets to experience that even the 2 people that love him equally and have very aligned goals can parent in slightly different ways.

Your son is a toddler, what are your future goals with Montessori? (maybe you are planning to homeschool?)

At the moment, we are not planning to homeschool. It is also unlikely that Denis will be able to attend a Montessori school: there just isn’t one in a convenient location for us.

But that will not stop us from continuing to apply the principles of Montessori learning at home. We will have to figure out the specifics when we get there, but I am curious to see where this path takes us!

I hope you have enjoyed this interview as much as I did.

There are other interviews of Montessori families on this blog, check them all here.

If you wish to participate, let me know in a comment!

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About the Author Carine Robin

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.