Calendar: This helps my son with our days of activity (library, music class, grocery shopping and church)
as well as for the days that we travel.
This week we are taking a peek into the home of the homeschooling, globe-trotting family of Nani (of the Instagram account @nani.skinner). She graciously answered my questions and virtually opened her home to share how she has created a prepared environment for her son, Lucas. Something I have always been curious about is how Nani makes travelling with a toddler look easy! She has great ideas on how to make the overwhelming thought of car rides and flights seem possible. I had a wonderful time getting to know her more. I hope you enjoy the home tour!
Tell me about yourself...
I was born and raised in Colombia, South America. My family and I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old. I met my husband when I was 22 years old and we got married 6 months after meeting each other. We then moved to the United Arib Emirates and lived for 2 years. We moved back because we were ready to start a family and wanted to do it closed to ours. We had our baby boy June 9th, 2016. Since then, my husband and I both work from home and homeschool our son.
How old is your child?
My son is 2.9 years old and his name is Lucas Patrick.
Closet: This is Lucas' closet space. He is able to pick and choose what he will wear everyday.
When did you first learn about Montessori?
I first learned about Montessori when my son was 12 months old. I truly wish I would have known about it before he was born. I dream of having the opportunity to practice Montessori from birth.
This is in our kitchen, I made room for him to have access to plates, cups and silver ware. This does not only give him independence but it allows him to help up set the table and empty the dishwasher.
How have you created a Prepared Environment in your home?
This is a very evolving question. Every time that I observe my child and he is needing or asking help with a task that he is capable off I change our environment. For now we have prepared his kitchen for him to have access to food and water. His bathroom, for him to be independent in the potty, washing hands and brushing teeth. His closet for him to reach and choose his clothes, mirrors around the house for him to be able to clean his face and brush his hair. Entry way for him to hang his coat and backpack. Tables around our apartment for him to work on tasks or eat.
Bathroom: This is Lucas' bathroom, I have printed step cards to help him remember
how to wash his hands.
What are your top 3 activities to do with your child or to watch your child do?
Playing music in his room
Routine: This is one of our most import spaces, this allows him to get ready before heading out the door. This helps me not to be rushing him out the door last minute, he is able to pick and choose how he gets ready in the morning.
How do you deal with toy/activity/material storage and rotation?
Since we live in an apartment we do not have a lot of storage space. So for now I use the majority of his closet as storage. I have divided his activities by subjects/ age appropriate and stored them in bins. I have made sure to make a list of all materials stored and paste it on the side of the bins so I can read when I need to rotate toys, that way I don’t need to get everything down at once and make a mess looking for something.
This is my son's closet that also works for his material storage. Labels has a list of ALL materials inside, this is super helpful during toy rotation.
What is your favourite part of your child’s play/work space?
Seeing him be so independent and the joy that this brings him. His kitchen is my most favourite part as it is complete (for now).
This is Lucas' kitchen, he has his own refrigerator filled with snacks that he can serve himself (e.g.: cheese, hummus, yogurts, milk, juice, water, fruit) His kitchen has running water for him to wash his kitchen utensils as well as his hands.
What benefits have you found in implementing the Montessori philosophy in your home?
So many, because we have decided to homeschool I believe it has allowed us to have consistency and order. I can see the benefit of concentration in his work, the benefit of responsibly for his own materials and toys, the benefit of independence and joy in everyday tasks.
Homeschool: We have not officially started homeschooling but so far this is the set up we have for his work.
How do you help foster independence in your child?
By having a prepared environment. As soon as I see that my son is getting frustrated and or mistreating materials I observe what in his environment is not working.
You travel quite a bit with your family. Any tips on travelling with children?
I have several tips for traveling families. Number one make time for your kids, when we travel we always rush to make it into our destination but our kids don’t track time, they live in the moment and that is why is so important to slow our busy traveling days. I will then recommend creating busy bags, this can be simple inexpensive dollar store finds that your kids have never seen before, this allows them to be focus on something new while on the plane or car. Lastly, we make sure to read books about traveling a few days before the trip, this helps my son understand what will happen while we travel. You can see some examples on my Instagram page.
This is an example of a book we read before arriving to the airport. He was already aware of what was happening and was able to
Anything else you’d like to add?
The prepared environment is an evolving subject, as our kids change every day our environment needs to adapt to their fast evolving rate. Never wait to have money to buy expensive materials or kitchens, work with what you have at home already and don’t wait for your kids to move on from an opportunity of learning independence.
To follow along on Nani's travelling and homeschooling adventures, check out her Instagram page (@nani.skinner).