This week I interviewed Natalie of Instagram account @littledawns. I really enjoy following her account. She is a working mom (teacher!) of two who brings daily positivity and inspiration to her followers. Natalie has fantastic ideas for Montessori activities with babies and toddlers, and I was so excited to learn more about how she has created a prepared environment in her home. I hope you enjoy the interview and home tour!
Tell me about yourself...
My name is a Natalie and I’m a teacher on the Gold Coast, Australia. I have been a teacher for 8 years. I have taught in England, Sydney, and Far North Queensland (remote Australia). I was born in South Africa and have been living in Australia for over 20 years.
How old are your children?
Ari is 2 years old
Shiloh is 9 months old
When did you first learn about Montessori?
I was first introduced to the Montessori philosophy by my mother-in-law. She studied AMI Montessori 0-3 and ran three schools in Sydney for over ten years. When I had my son and she started to teach me how to incorporate practical tips into our home environment, I fell in love with all things Montessori.
How have you created a Prepared Environment in your home?
We have tried to prepare the environment for our toddler and baby. Both of our children sleep on floor beds. We love seeing Shiloh crawl off her bed in the mornings with a huge smile on her face.
For Ari, we have lots of shelves at his height so that he can reach his activities easily. I’ve also recently bought him a clothing rack so that he can reach his clothes and dress himself in the morning. He also has his own shelf in each room in the house. The top section is for him but since Shiloh has started to pull up on everything, we’ve had to ensure the activities are not dangerous for her.
What are your favourite activities to do with your children or to watch your children do?
This is not always practical (especially if we’re rushing) but when we can, we try to let Ari dress himself everyday.
2) Preparing snacks/food
Ari loves food. He loved cutting up bananas and spreading vegemite onto crackers.
Watering the garden is something we do often. There’s something so powerful about nature that tames toddlers.
We love a good messy art session. Whether it’s watercolours, nature paint or traditional paint-Ari loves all of it!
How do you deal with toy/activity/material storage and rotation?
We have lots of beautiful woven baskets that we store our activities in. I try to rotate activities every few weeks or when I see that he’s mastered the activity. Our biggest challenge is the amount of books that we have collected. We have plastic tubs in the garage for items that he has outgrown and we’re not afraid of giving items away if we need to.
What is your favourite part of your child’s play/work space?
I love our outside area. Our home backs onto a beautiful Bush. We often spend hours watching the birds, painting or having a swim outside. Australians love the great outdoors, and we are no different.
What benefits have you found in implementing the Montessori philosophy in your home?
I have found that Ari loves to learn new things, as a result of the Montessori philosophy. His favourite saying is “I can do it myself.” He takes great pride in doing simple real life activities.
How do you help foster independence in your children?
As parents we're tempted to do everything for our children but I love that the Montessori philosophy encourages us to slowly give our children freedom.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think that it's important to mention that parenting is hard. The Montessori philosophy is something that helps me because it enables me to have direction and practical steps with this vital part of my child's journey.
To learn more and be inspired, follow Natalie on Instagram (@littledawns) and read her blog (www.littledawnsblog.blogspot.com).