Stephanie is a homeschooling mama of two. Montessori learning and Artful homeschooling fill her days with creativity, learning, and work. Her daughters are Bunny who is in second grade, and Pup who is 4. She blogs about learning, life, and discovery over at Discovery Moments. Her blog is so truthful, relatable and authentic. She’s also a wonderful blog friend and is so supportive of her fellow homeschoolers. I just love her.
1 | When did you start introducing Montessori in your home? My Montessori journey began back in the summer of 2010. Bunny (who is now 7) was only 4 at the time and I was trying to think ahead to how we would school her. I loved Montessori, but we could not afford to send the girls to the school. So I went to the library and dug up every book they had on Montessori! And before I knew it I started making trays for Bunny in the kitchen using anything I had. I think my very first tray was a cookie sheet with two Pyrex bowls, some beans and a spoon! A couple of weeks later, I had decided that homeschooling would work, that I needed Montessori materials, and now was when it needed to happen. By fall we were ready for school to begin and I was excited! Learning and the Montessori concepts quickly became a regular part of our life and home.
2 | What are your favorite Montessori-inspired spaces in your home? Well personally I love, love, love, our school room! What I love is that it is beautiful. There was really something to Maria Montessori’s requirement of a beautiful space for children to learn. I think that having things well-organized, pretty, and always ready make learning more natural. When you want something it’s there, when you have a project there is space, and when you are there for a long time you enjoy it because the space feels good to be in. That is how I feel about it. Another room that I love for the girls is, and you will laugh, the bathroom. Our small half bath is perfect for little ones! There has never been a toddler yet who doesn’t head in there, climb on the stool and try to wash their own hands. It is right in the middle of the main level of the house and the door works better left open. It just calls to kids to try and do it themselves (much to the dismay sometimes of my mommy friends when their little ones are soaking wet). They can wash their hands, clean their own faces, and get their own drink of water. A couple of years ago a redecorated their rooms so that they were a good space for each of them. Bunny needed a space to work and places to display her favorite things, plus a closet where things could be stored (so they don drive me crazy). She has her clothes in the dresser and it is easy for her to put things away. Plus moving the bed into the corner allowed her more space to create LEGO creations! Pup needed somewhere for her clothes to go and a place to keep books! So I put some shelves in her closet with baskets for her clothes and gave her a bookshelf and a desk. Everything is there is at her height and easy for her to navigate. However, things are slowly moving and I can see us changing things around soon enough as they keep growing!
3 | How do your children benefit from a Montessori home? I think that they are really independent. My girls like to do things themselves and they like to create new things. Plus they are able to get what they need, and put away what they don’t. This teaches a lot of care for the home as well as takes some pressure off of me. We ask a lot of questions, read a lot of books, and try out new ideas! That is what I wanted for my girls and making sure the house supports that is important to me! To be honest there is a lot of benefits that I don’t even see! The things that they go off to do or make aren’t always shown to me. They are learning and exploring and I don’t always know. And this is a good thing I think. It means that they are doing it themselves because they need to not because I told them to! This is something that I think having a Montessori home supports.
4 | What advice do you have for a parent who wants to start implementing Montessori principles in the home? Start simple. The Montessori method is about more than the beautiful materials. It is a way to interact with your child and to help them explore the world that they are a part of. So get a table, and buy a shelf. Then start with simple trays for them. Sure having pink tower and knobbed cylinders is a great thing, but you really can teach the same things with some nesting blocks, and some nuts and bolts. This is something I learned the expensive way! ;) Another thing that I really recommend is to read Maria Montessori’s work. It’s a little hard to get into, but it offers a lot more insight into the method then reading about what others have interpreted it to mean! So make sure that you research well and understand the method because that is what is going to lead to your success! Finally remember that your kids are kids! You will have meltdowns, fits, and “I hates schools” statement even if your home looks like a perfect Montessori school. Why? Because they are in their home, their safe space, and their place to be what they are without pressure to be perfect all the time. As such, the normalization of a Montessori classroom is hard to get at home. So know it will never look the same and embrace it! They may have fits instead of sitting in perfect concentration on some days, but you will always share those moments of pure joy of success in deeper way then you ever could if they were in school!
That’s the end of our Montessori Tour of Homes. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the Montessori spaces and learning a little bit about why other families are using Montessori principles in their homes. It’s always fun to get inspired by other people’s homes. Or at least it is for me. Friday Five is cancelled this week. I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend. xo, Lori