This week I interviewed Caroline of Instagram account @budding.and.blossoming. I've been following her since the beginning of her account and I have to say, I really wish it existed when Layla was a baby! Her posts are simple, beautiful and make sense. There is an organic and uncomplicated feel to the materials, activities and books she has in her space. Caroline truly makes having a Montessori home look achievable. I really enjoyed interviewing her this week and I hope you enjoy taking a peek into her home and learning more!
Tell me about yourself...
My name is Caroline and I’m a wife, mum and primary school teacher. I am from sunny Queensland in Australia. My childhood of daily bush walks with my dad and weekly library visits, crafts and reading with my mum turned me into a nature and craft loving adult.
How old is your child?
Alfred is 9 months old.
When did you first learn about Montessori?
I first learnt about Montessori during a history of early childhood theory class at university. I remember the way they discussed it was “all the way over in Italy...” Then I did a 4 week teaching prac in a Montessori room with 2-3 year olds. This showed me some wonderful things about Montessori but also, as I later learnt, some common misconceptions. I thought that the children had no freedom to play as they couldn’t move on to a new material without first mastering the original one they are presented. I later realised that the importance a child gains from mastery and that they really enjoyed the materials.
How have you created a Prepared Environment in your home?
• Ensured all our rooms are accessible for Alfred
• Each room has something of interest for him to explore e.g kitchen cupboards with containers, a cart with some random objects in the bathroom, pillows to climb in the bedrooms
• A shelf with 6-8 materials in the living room, rotated weekly to match his current interests/development
• Children’s board books on the bottom level of our book shelves
• A bath caddy for him to access his own bath toys and wash cloths
Soon I’m looking forward to adding his weaning chair and table (on order from my dad) and introducing more aspects of practical life such as using a wash basket, cutlery sorting, picking tomatoes etc
What are your top 3 activities to do with Alfred or to watch him do?
1. Going for walks and watching him stare intensely at things, such as the ducks swimming in the pond, the man playing guitar, the statues in the garden.
2. I love seeing him learn a new skill, in my mind I am wildly clapping and dancing while I try not to distract him e.g the first time he put a ball in the DIY object permanence box.
3. Seeing him have fun (is that too corny to include?) He has recently started clapping and kicking his legs at the same time while sitting up, usually for no apparent reason but that he’s happy.
How do you deal with toy/activity/material storage and rotation?
All his toys are stored in his bedroom cupboards. I rotate them once a week. If he hasn’t used something from his shelf for a couple of days I put it away and choose something else (often something he has played with before or I make something, trying to buy less toys and materials!) I choose the new item based on my observations of what he’s doing e.g putting an object in a container > object permanence box OR based on what I think he might be ready to try due to his age e.g pincer grasp block as he’s developing that grip.
What is your favourite part of your child’s play/work space?
I love his shelf as it’s a constant challenge to ensure it’s meeting all his needs and I get a thrill when I’ve put out items he excitedly engages with.
What benefits have you found in implementing the Montessori philosophy in your home?
It’s taught me to be more relaxed and to trust him more. When I was reading recently I came across the idea of servitude. Montessori discusses that if we do everything for our children we are hindering them. “Our servants are not our dependents, rather it is we who are dependent upon them.… In reality, he who is served is limited.… Who does not know that to teach a child to feed himself, to wash and dress himself, is a much more tedious and difficult work, calling for infinitely greater patience, than feeding, washing, and dressing the child one’s self? But the former is the work of an educator, the latter is the easy and inferior work of a servant.…” Montessori in ‘Montessori: A Modern Approach” by Paula Polk Lillard. Montessori sure does keep it real!
How do you help foster independence in your child?
If he can do something himself then he does it! Alfred has shown that he is very determined to do things for himself so this has happened naturally. He likes to feed himself, if something rolls away or he drops something then I don’t collect it for him, and if he’s stuck I wait a little while to see if he can free himself before intervening. This may be natural for Alfred but I pull myself up everyday for wanting to “help” or “fix” when I would really be hindering.
What advice do you have for parents interested in Montessori?
Check out some good books or YouTube videos! Montessori is not about fancy materials or the perfect playroom. To me, it’s about helping my son learn all he can so that he can become an independent child and adult capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to while also being compassionate and helpful to others. I want him to feel valued and an active participant of our life. I really love ‘Montessori: A Modern Approach’ by Paula Polk Lillard; ‘The Joyful Child’ by Susan Mayclin Stephenson and ‘Baby’s First Year Milestones’ by Aubrey Hargis (the last book is good for a quick read with some simple activities that don’t cost anything or can be made at home).
Anything else you’d like to add?
I feel so honoured that you have featured our home. I love that you advocate for Montessori and share its “truths”. I’ve learnt so much from all you share.
To learn more about Caroline, and to follow along on her parenting journey, follow her Instagram account (@budding.and.blossoming).