Updated: Apr 13, 2022
This week I was lucky enough to interview Cheryl of @ow.montessori.family Her Instagram account is so peaceful and aesthetically pleasing, I feel calm just scrolling through it. I especially notice how thoughtful and intentional her spaces are...from the reading areas to the nature table. When I asked Cheryl to take part in this tour I was most curious about how her family incorporates balance in their home-with languages, experiences and materials that are provided for her daughter. I hope you enjoy reading the interview and learning more about this beautiful space!
Tell me about yourself...
I was a business development manager of an engineering firm before my first child. Today I am a proud stay at home mom. Since my daughter, Em came along, I have become intrigued in early childhood development and got myself certified as children's yoga teacher. I enjoy travelling and being in nature.
How old is your child?
Em is 26 months old.
When did you first learn about Montessori?
I first learned about Dr Maria Montessori and her pedagogy when a dear friend of mine gifted me the book : The Joyful Child. I was blown away and plunged into reading more about Dr Maria Montessori and her work. I subsequently took up some online courses to further enrich my knowledge. Instagram has also been my daily and constant source of inspiration and motivation.
How have you created a Prepared Environment in your home?
Not knowing where to start , I took up an online course in the US and that was the start of my Montessori at home journey. Keeping it simple and focusing on the main activity areas at home ie. Kitchen & garden for practical work, play room, Art corner and book nooks around the house. We recently added a nature corner in the house after observing Em's interest in living things and her fondness of picking up baubles during our walks in the park.
What are your top 3 activities to do with your child or to watch your child do?
Being in nature, practical and purposeful work and reading. I observed the most joy from Em when she's doing these 3 activities.
How do you deal with toy/activity/material storage and rotation?
I have a wardrobe for toy and books out of rotation in Em's playroom and I rotate the toys and books maybe, every fortnightly or if I observe a particular interest.
What is your favourite part of your child’s play/work space?
I love that they are usually calm and inviting and allows her room for self exploration.
What benefits have you found in implementing the Montessori philosophy in your home?
The Montessori philosophy has not only helped Em in many ways, but also helped my husband and I relook at our parenting. We now see our child as this capable little human being who is able to achieve so much more if we allow her to.
We have learnt to follow our child's interest, respect her work and space and most importantly, our home environment has become much calmer and peaceful for her continuous development.
How do you help foster independence in your child?
By providing the right tools, materials at the right time such that the child can have free access to.
Tell me about how Waldorf influences your parenting and Prepared Environment.
Waldorf has guided me in making my choices for Em's toys. I select toys which allow for open-ended, reality-based imaginative play.
You have a bilingual home. How are you approaching this? Have you found any challenges? What tips would you offer other multilingual families?
We practise one parent one language ( Mandarin and English) at home and honestly, it was really tough in the beginning since I did not speak much mandarin at home with my family. However, both my husband and I recognized the importance of the Chinese language especially with us living in Asia. Hence we made the decision for me to take on the challenge to converse with Em in Mandarin.
It was very deliberate in the beginning and I had to look up words/ vocabulary/ verbs while conversing to Em. But the good thing is, it really does get better with lots of practice and determination. I have also learnt to speak to her in context and used audio books to enrich her Mandarin environment.
The one tip I have for bilingual families is to stay consistent and keep immersing the child in that environment. The goal is not for academic excellence but to nurture their interest in the language and help the child learn better in the future.