Today's tour and interview is with Millicent of the Instagram account @stories.by.millie
I have been following Millicent for a while and I am constantly inspired by her. She makes me wish I could be a homeschooler! I think it is because she presents activities and ideas in such an approachable way. With every post, I feel the joy, respect and warmth that she and her son share. Her minimalist, yet welcoming, home is proof that minimalism doesn't equal cold and sparse. She explains some benefits and reminds us that less is more.
I am so excited that Millicent agreed to be interviewed because I think you will learn a lot!
Tell me about yourself...
Hello! My name is Millicent Edet, an early years educator but currently a stay-at-home homeschooling mum. I used to work as an electrical engineer until 9 years ago when I switched careers. Overall, I have about 13 years of experience in childcare and learning. I am Nigerian British and have been living in the UK for about 10 years now. I am married to my best friend from Uni and we have a beautiful son, Jedidiah; whom we call 'Jedi' for short. Jedi just turned four.
When did you first learn about Montessori?
Montessori education is well known and regarded in my home country, Nigeria. So, I have heard and known about the uniqueness and effectiveness of the Montessori method. When I discovered that my husband was a Montessori child after we started dating 13 years ago, I made a note to dig deeper and find out more.
He's had scholarships throughout his education journey (primary, secondary, Uni, Masters, MBA) and he credits his Montessori foundation as one factor that helped all of that. whenever I tell him he is so brilliant (which he is), he responds, "I just process things differently". This 'processing things differently', inspired me to begin implementing Montessori with my son when he was 6 months old and to embark on my training and qualification for 0-6, so I can be better prepared to support the learning and development of the young children in my care.
How have you created a Prepared Environment in your home?
I consider the following when I prepare (and maintain) our home environment;
a. Independence/accessibility - does this support his independence and help him do this task on his own?
b. Social aspects - does this include or exclude him?
c. Simple and beautiful aesthetics.
What are your favorite activities to do with your child or to watch your child do?
I absolutely enjoy watching my son being engrossed in building with his magnetic tiles or working independently with a material - while talking to himself...he always talks to himself when he plays. I also enjoy chasing and throwing cushions at him - he LOVES it!
How do you deal with toy/activity/material storage and rotation?
I do not rotate materials - not in a conventional way. Our homeschool follows the Montessori curriculum so I prepare and set out materials based on what my son is learning in each curriculum area at a given time - sensorial, numeracy, language/literacy, KUW (biology, geography, science, history).
As for practical life, this area is adequately covered in our day-to-day life at home but I sometimes would prepare a particular practical life activity to support a needed skill in another area (such as pin punch out for writing in literacy). I leave these materials out for chunks of time to allow for repetition and further practice until I am confident to introduce a few new ones to allow him to continue to work with some of the old while learning fresh concepts with the new. We use 2 shelves for our Montessori materials.
Additionally, we have a dedicated shelf for creative toys and loose parts for his imaginative and creative play which remain in the room for as long as the Montessori resources. My son plays and works with every resource in our homeschool room. We have a small organized storeroom in our home for all of our homeschooling resources.
Loose Parts Shelf
What is your favourite part of your child’s play/work space?
First, we are a minimalist home so I love how airy and aesthetically pleasing our homeschool room is. Everything has a place which means my son is also able to maintain it without me (and he does!)
What benefits have you found in implementing the Montessori philosophy in your home?
Wow! where do I begin? First, my son is able to contribute to our daily home life and that makes a HUGE difference. From practical life skills such as loading the dishwasher, dressing, to his education and learning and how he processes information, the impact is evident and worth all the preparatory work we put in when he was younger. Secondly, I have noticed that my son approaches learning confidently and excitedly. He also asks lots of questions.
Step Stool at Kitchen Sink
How do you help foster independence in your child?
First by modeling and then providing lots of opportunities for practice. Also making things or certain tasks accessible to him but still includes him in our family life. For example, he has a little breakfast table that holds his cereals, plates and cutlery for him to prep his breakfast AND an IKEA toddler chair at our dining table for all of us to have our meals together.
Do you have a favorite Montessori or parenting quote?
Actually, I don't have one favourite quote because so many things she said make sense.
Tell me about your homeschooling journey. What have been your biggest obstacles and successes?
We've been homeschooling Jedi for as long as we've been using Montessori to support his learning. The biggest obstacle at first was deciding what materials to buy and which I shouldn't (because using Montessori materials requires some financial investment). However, never underestimate the power of your creativity. For certain lessons, you can definitely be creative with the materials you can use.
My successes are all wrapped up in my son - His confidence and joy to learn. I am so proud of him!
What tips do you have for families interested in homeschooling?
Realise that homeschooling is a HUGE commitment but its also the most REWARDING experience for both you and your child. To get started (or stay on track), consider these tips:
a. Prepare for the journey - this may include investing in resources to start with and setting aside a monthly budget to add to your collection.
b. Do your research and choose a curriculum (it doesn't have to be Montessori).
c. If you want to implement Montessori education, I would suggest finding a mentor or coach to work with. You can get in touch with me via Instagram as I have recently started offering this mentoring service to help parents get started (and continue) their home learning journey. Unfortunately, unlike what you see on social media, Montessori education is not glamorous and seamless - the results are. It is hard work, considerable financial investment, and a different methodology that if you haven't spent the time in training and practicing, may be overwhelming and leave you feeling inadequate. HOWEVER, you can with the right information, you can do it!.
d. Enjoy the time with your kids. Laugh more, play more, cuddle them more, the works! This is such a beautiful privilege of a lifetime - Enjoy it!
Thank you, Millicent, for opening your home to us. You've shared many great tips that will help all families!
Follow along on Millicent and Jedi's journey and stay connected on Instagram @stories.by.millie
Thanks for reading,