Friday, 29 August 2014

Book Review: Montessori from the Start

The Book: Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen

Let me start by saying, everyone recommends this book when people ask where to start. It's my first real book to introduce me to the nuts and bolts of Montessori theory as it works in a practical sense, and is an excellent introduction. In no way is it a step by step guide to being the worlds best Montessori mum raising the perfect child, but you will never find such a book anyways. And I feel that it packs in the information of which it expects the reader to acknowledge and then implement as is appropriate to their child. 

This book has done more to build my confidence in my skills as a parent and in the principals of Montessori than I was expecting. It has confirmed that this is the way I want to raise my little guy and fuelled my interest in learning more. 

The key take-home message for me is that children want to learn, want to learn what you’re doing and will develop at a slow pace. They will absorb what is going on around them and have the ability to build skills if given encouragement and space to do so. 

But more than this I feel that this book is as much about raising the child as it is about how to be a Montessori parent, something which I didn’t know I was looking for but took much interest in when talked about. 

I feel confident that I can start to create a simple, ordered and beautiful house and that I have a good guide to start building activities as Reuben gets older. Of course, much of it I haven't put into practice yet as he's not old enough. But the direction around floor beds, cloth nappies, food and the general advice on how to start creating a beautiful environment are excellent and you'll see them in up coming posts. 

I typed up a lot of notes and these are the best bits: 

  • Create a home that is not overly serious and filled with joyfulness and spontaneity.
  • Establish an environment that encourages the development of concentration.
  • A place for everything and everything in it’s place.
  • The hand discovers more information by carrying out new direction and reporting back to the brain. 
  • Rotation not substitution is the answer to the process of habituation to objects.
  • Challenge: build knowledge and background before we expect understanding of specific details.
  • The parent-child relationship is for the child’s benefit, not the parents.
  • Ensure that activities balance effort and success.
  • Remember: the child is interested in the process not the end result.
  • Remember: do not interrupt a child, even praising can throw off their concentration.
  • The child's attraction to order focuses attention and effort.
  • In order to have confidence in ourselves, we need to have control of ourselves.
  • Do not expect immediate compliance, repeat the same request in different words
  • Do not use a challenging tone - patience! 
  • You have control of the situation so there is no need to get angry, anxious or insecure.
  • Remember: this is a collaboration use the concept of “my turn, your turn”
  • Repetition and practice of each new experience results in learning
  • Make it look fun!

Reuben is 4 months old so I feel well placed to build on what I've learned from this book. First change we made was a floor bed, I liked the way they explained the concept.  The same goes for cloth nappies, I had decided that I wanted to use them but until I read this book I didn't mention it to too many people, now I feel supported that the reason we are doing it is beneficial for Reuben to know the difference between wet and dry. And we also are onto the 3rd mobile, a bit late but he's still enjoying them. 

Most useful for me and what I will be looking into further is the "teaching" methods, the "your turn, my turn" concepts etc. and of course I won't be able to stop myself from seeking out gorgeous toys. 

I highly recommend this book, it's well written and easy to understand and gives practical tips as well as an overview of the theory.

Overall usefulness: 4/5 (especially if you're looking for somewhere to start reading, but it is a lot of information)
Ease of reading: 4/5 (it'll take you a while and there is heaps to absorb, but it's worth it)
Buy or borrow: Buy, I'll  be referring to this book in the future and also lending it to the grandparents.

For some more reviews check it out on Good Reads

Friday, 22 August 2014

First Impressions: Cloth Nappies

Cloth nappies and the Montessori way: There are some excellent blog posts on why cloth nappies fits into the Montessori theory especially here  so I won't go into too much detail, but when people ask me I tell them: cloth nappies are the first part of toilet training; that is the child recognising when they are wet and dry.  

We decided to give the cloth nappies a go for Reuben because he's our first and, well, quite frankly we figured we didn't know any better so we may as well. I'm keen to make better choices for the environment and for my wallet and the more I researched the more it seemed to satisfy both criteria. I was a little apprehensive about telling people but, I've found people are really supportive and maybe even a little impressed (maybe).

I chose to use Eco Naps All in Ones. Everything has been ordered online and the customer service has been great even when I've come across issues.

I like the Eco Naps All in Ones because they look like real nappies but cuter. His butt is a little chunkier but that's ok too, but they don't hinder his rolling at all.

At the beginning he was too little for them and leaked through a lot so we had to wait until he had put on some chub around his legs, they are delightfully chubby now so we very rarely have leak throughs unless he's way off aim (which happens with disposables anyway).

We also wore them 24/7 at the start but he has developed a nappy rash/dermatitis which may or may not be to do with the cloth nappies but definitely is not helped by them. For a precautionary measure we've changed to cloth during the day and disposables during the night to give his skin a break from being wet against his skin.

Going to disposables, even part time, has been heartbreaking, I feel like it takes a fair amount of balls to do something non-mainstream and to have them contributing to his skin problems upset me. But ultimately, it's about what's best for him not the idea of something. 

The washing is fine, it just needs to be done everyday. As a further measure we wash with soap nuts, I bought them a little skeptical, but to my surprised I find them very effective and all our clothes are now washed with them.

Overall I can't wait until his skin settles and he's running around in them in the summer time with nothing else on, it's going to be total cuteness.



Thursday, 21 August 2014

Starting the Montessori Journey.

Journey; a bit of a naff way to describe it, but honestly, I can't think of a better word. My aim is to raise a child who is confident, curious and able. The journey is really about figuring out what works and how to get to the end point and all the ups and downs along the way.

And, it's a minefield out there. There is a humungous volume of information not only on raising kids, parenting, feeding, sleeping, disciplining, etc, etc, etc but Montessori too.

So this blog is to help me be organised, critical and reflective of the journey. I don't know what's best, I'm just figuring it out and hopefully along the way you, dear readers, will join me, help me and share your ideas.

My story is simple: I went to a Montessori Pre-school in 1987 with my twin sister, it was run by the most amazing teacher I have ever had, Tara. I have fond memories and when I was pregnant decided to look into it to see if there was anything in my area (Bendigo, Victoria, Australia) and to my surprise I found out there isn't. So I started reading and pinteresting and I found this wonderful community online.

Bendigo is a town of 105,000, a major centre in our state known for it's art gallery and gold rush history (and what you probably didn't know was the dim sim was invented here). There is so much to offer here and it surprised me that there wasn't the Montessori option. Maybe one day I might try and bring it to this community, but in the mean time I would love to start the journey and hopefully find some local Montessori inspired mummas along the way.

I have a 3 and a half month little boy named Reuben, a darling husband who loves everything I tell him about Montessori and a staffy-kelpie name Boston (who I am sure will pop up on this blog now and again).

What you can expect from this site is my experiences, reviews of books and websites, links to resources, some of my personal sewing projects, updates on our garden and hopefully some inspiration.

I'm excited. Lets Make, Grow + Share.

Get in touch: jessclairewhite -at-
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