If pictures tells a thousand words, how many could be told on an Instagram feed? Some words that come to mind when looking at Kristin's Instagram account are: warmth, love, fun, concentration and respect. They are snapshots of a happy and fulfilling childhood (and I think, a happy and fulfilling parenthood as well). She documents not just how to set up a space, but how to follow the child, observe, and breathe instead of react when a mess has occurred.
A main theme that runs through her interview is ensuring that the child feels a sense of belonging in the family home and that the environment needs to change along with the child. I really enjoyed getting to know Kristin through the interview and getting a closer look into the spaces of her home. Hope you enjoy it as well.
I had to include Oliver's baby shelf! This is from when he was 6 months!
Tell me about yourself ...
My name is Kristin. My undergraduate degree is in Early Childhood Education. I taught Kindergarten before deciding to go back to school for Speech Language Pathology. I worked with adults for 10 years in various medical settings and I've recently decided to mostly stay home with my children. My interest has shifted since having kids and I'm finding that I am interested in switching to early intervention (ages 0-3) and reading (all ages). Right now, I'm just enjoying having the opportunity to be with my kids.
How old are your children?
Oliver is 21 months and Eleanor is 5 years old.
This is what is currently on our bookshelf in our main area of our home.
When did you first learn about Montessori?
I think we briefly touched on it in undergrad, but most of what I've learned started about four years ago when Eleanor was about a year. I read blogs, joined Montessori 101 on Facebook, online courses, and read books. I'm still reading! Honestly, I feel I finally had a better understanding while pregnant with O and learning about Montessori from birth. I was so focused on Eleanor's age that I didn't initially look at the whole picture.
This is our simple upstairs bathroom set-up. The low potty and stool for Oliver to adapt to his size. We've included a expandable bath caddy in the bathtub for toys, toiletries and a mirror to increase independence and minimize what's out.
How have you created a Prepared Environment in your home?
My main focus in our home when thinking about the prepared environment is belonging. The importance of the child being a contributing member of the environment and adapting the environment while meeting the needs of the child. Consider taking an infant into the bathroom in a restaurant to find no changing table provided or, alternately, a bathroom that provides low toilet and sink that a child can use independently. The prepared environment definitely can impact the person's perception of the space and where they fit in.
Our environment changes as child and family needs change. Our main focus is to include everyone in all areas of the home. Be it a stool, a chair that fits the child, a low table or shelving, every area accommodates all four of us. We live in a townhome, so, there is no playroom of sorts here! We try our best to achieve a sort of flow, but it honestly is a constant work in process. We have gotten better about using what we have and paring down unnecessary items. It's taken time, but I focus less on the stuff and consider how that item will work with what we already have.
This is our entryway. Both children know to bring their shoes and jackets here. We use the stairs as the seat (not pictured) as it is right next to this space.
What are your top 3 activities to do with your children or to watch your children do?
Practical life, being outdoors, open ended play (whatever they select at the time).
Local park that we like to go play.
How do you deal with toy/activity/material storage and rotation?
Still dealing with the storage piece, but I don't rotate often. I leave out building, open ended toys, certain art supplies and vehicles. I rotate fine motor toys, update close ended toys as they develop and require more difficulty, and freshen up art or change out a couple selections. I used to believe that I needed to rotate more or have more to rotate, but I find having less to focus on works better for us.
My husband build this piece after observing Oliver playing trains and cars on the kitchen table. He wanted to provide a surface to meet Oliver's interest. Eleanor requested a blue top for "water" as she is interested in small world play. The shelf has all of our building materials and below my husband made the space large enough to fit our Bruder trucks.
What is your favourite part of your child’s play/work space?
I love how my kids can make their own selections without having to unnecessarily ask for assistance.
This is our main shelf in our main space. This is a shared shelf for both. Oliver tends to just do the middle left shelf, so, it may be time to rotate some of his items out.
What benefits have you found in implementing the Montessori philosophy in your home?
My perspective on what children can do has shifted since implementing the Montessori philosophy at home. I definitely started including Eleanor more in my day-to-day and provided more opportunities for her to contribute (now Oliver). I observe more. I have a better understanding of the Sensitive Periods of Development and relation to my observations of my children. I focused more on including diverse books and learn about various cultures. I put significantly more effort in going outside regularly than I did in the beginning.
This is in Oliver's room. He independently selects his own books with the forward facing sling and we've limited available toys. I find that Oliver tends to do more "shelf" work at the beginning and end of the day and these items meet his interests. I've had the item in the top left out forever, but he still takes it out regularly to work!
How do you help foster independence in your children?
Routine, clear expectations, opportunity to do the task, modelling how tasks are done and breaking them down as needed.
This is the second most used space in our home. Both children love this learning tower. They both can fit in it while doing kitchen work which proves to be helpful in our small kitchen space.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love what I've learned. I feel better equipped to meet the needs of my kids and follow their interests.
Follow Kristin on Instagram (@o_e_and_me) and read her blog (www.oeandme.com/blog) to learn more!