The amazing thing about social media, is that you can slowly become friends with people who you have never actually met in real life. Through countless comments, questions and messages, I feel like this has happened organically with Jasmine of Three Minute Montessori.
This is what I know about her-she is supportive, kind and friendly. She is also a Konmari master, her home is calm and inviting and she is extremely modest. She holds workshops and home tours in Singapore and shares lots of inspiration on Instagram and Facebook.
I was thrilled when Jasmine agreed to kick off a new feature on my blog-The Montessori Home Tour! It's the next best thing to being able to actually visit her beautiful space. So, thank you Jasmine, for being so open and gracious. Here we go...
Please introduce yourself...
My name is Jasmine, I am a Singaporean mum to two children aged 4 and 5.
When did you first learn about Montessori?
I first learned about Montessori through reading blogs, like so many other parents, and fell in love with the beauty and order of these environments. I loved it so much that I joined the 3-6 AMI Assistants training and later, the 6-12 AMI Assistants training in Maria Montessori Institute, London, UK, together with my husband. I also completed Interior Design Level 1 at Central Saint Martin’s, a design university in London.
A DIY rainbow board for color matching
How have you created a Prepared Environment in your home?
I believe a common answer would be to buy materials, but a prepared environment begins with a prepared adult, and a prepared adult has one main duty, to follow the child as his leader. I observe their interests, abilities, conversations. I set out or create materials that they might be drawn to (the name of my blog is Three Minute Montessori for a reason though, as I generally prefer quick painless setups or DIYs). I demonstrate how to move gracefully, how to speak respectfully, how to handle the materials with care. Many times, all this happens before I set out a single toy.
What are your top two activities to do with your children or to watch your children do?
When they were toddlers, I enjoyed watching them work on practical life. The rapt attention! The intensity! And the confidence that grew! Blueberry muffins were a favourite that they could make independently.
Now that they are kindergarteners, I have great pride seeing them explode into writing. Here, I literally follow the child, not moving ahead with structured activities, but simply standing back and reinforcing only concepts that they need help with. As a result, it may be slower, but I know that the accomplishment of writing and reading is theirs to own, not mine.
Cooking on a hotplate (rice with salmon belly, vegetables and a homemade honey garlic sauce)
How do you deal with toy/activity/material storage and rotation?
I’m asked how often to rotate a child’s toys, and my answer is that it is based on observation. How frequently does your child play with the toy, and if he doesn’t, why not? Being able to shed light on the “why not” is valuable in guiding your rotation. After three years of Konmari and minimalism, I find that one doesn’t need a large amount of toys to rotate, but simply a few quality items that will be cherished at different ages. I buy (or get secondhand things) based on the rule: would my child like this now, in 2 years time, or even in 5 years time? Examples of toys with staying power would be open-ended construction toys, beads or crafts, and richly-pigmented art supplies. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of plain white paper.
Making ceviche with tropical ingredients like dragonfruit
What is your favourite part of your child’s play/work space?
The fact that I enjoy being in it just as much as they do.
What benefits have you found in implementing the Montessori philosophy in your home?
Concentration and independence.
How do you help foster independence in your children?
I prepare the environment and get out of the way. Well, okay that sounds a bit extreme. Vygotsky’s theory on the “zone of proximal development” suggests that the child can learn skills that are somewhat challenging if given just the right amount of guidance. Similarly, fostering independence is about finding that sweet spot between providing the right amount of help at the right time that will enable the child to make an achievement, without making things too easy for him that he becomes unmotivated, or making things too hard that he gives up. (Frustration and struggle are par for the course, but not to the extent of putting the child off trying.)
A Konmari-inspired folding activity
Anything else you’d like to add?
Montessori is a way of life, not a thing that can be purchased. Therefore, you can Montessori even if your shelves are empty, you don’t have a learning tower (that’s a modern invention btw), or any of the wonderful wooden toys. You can Montessori with a few rocks in a park or a wooden spoon and eggs in your kitchen. You can Montessori with nothing at all but love.
You can find Jasmine on Instagram (@3mm.montessori), Facebook (Three Minute Montessori)
and for services and workshops, check out her website.