I had the pleasure of connecting with Olivia from Fishies in a Row some time back and love that she is now featuring in this Montessori and Simple Living Series. I think you will really enjoy reading her honest and thoughtful answers.
I am so honored that you have asked me to share a little bit about my Montessori journey on your Blog. Thank you for hosting this Interview!
Q1. Dear Olivia, would you like to share with us a bit about yourself and your family?
My name is Olivia as well, and while I am an aspiring writer and Illustrator my main focus is raising my children.
My husband and I have two beautiful boys: Jerome, our oldest, is two and Benedict, the baby, will be one in a month. In our home, I try to incorporate Montessori principles and our Catholic faith, as well as constantly trying to minimalize our lives, so we can appreciate the things that really matter.
Q2. How did you first start on a Montessori path and what does this journey mean to you and your family?
I discovered Montessori through surfing Pinterest when I stumbled across the Blog How we Montessori and I immediately fell in love. Becoming a parent meant coming across a lot of questions I was trying to answer, such as a disciple strategy that felt right and what to keep my children busy with all day, and when I discovered Montessori, I knew I had found these answers.
Although I only fell in love with Montessori a year ago and I feel I have a lot to learn, Montessori has already benefited our lives in so many ways. We do not have a lot of the materials, but I am learning these are not the focus for our family. Montessori has changed the way I respond to my children’s behavior, the way I organize my home, and they way I think about the materials and toys I bring into our home, and I feel that, even If we never have the beautiful (and expensive) “real materials”, I know these other aspects of Montessori will have been equally as important.
Q3. How is your parenting influenced by Montessori (or other methods/philosophies) and what have you found to be the most challenging part? Do you have any tips for others?
I would say that I am not, naturally, a very patient person, but being impatient with my children never felt right to me. It was something I was really aware of, and learning about Montessori gave me the structure I needed to grow in patience. The importance Montessori places on respect for childhood and personhood has drastically altered the way I view parenthood and the importance of learning to respond to them as nonviolently as possible. This is proving to be an uphill battle, one I have discovered I am not very successful with on my own, so I am learning to seek guidance and the strength to be patient and kind in my Catholic faith.
Montessori has taught me the importance of slowing down, and following my children, the value of concentration, and not interrupting them. I try to step back and assess the situation, not jumping in to help as soon as my son calls, and he often surprises himself. I find it so amazing, when I come across moments of spontaneous concentration, imagination, or effort, and do not interrupt or intervene.
As a result of Montessori, the toileting journey with my two-year-old son was peaceful, and I see him growing in responsibility and independence that our society regularly does not think a child of his age is capable. In fact, many people have commented on how “my children don’t seem to be mischievous” and I know I can attribute part of this to Montessori. Our home is set up in a way that is prepared and safe for them, offering them many meaningful and constructive ways to learn, explore, and entertain themselves, as well as practical experiences and opportunities to use real tools, and I believe they are fulfilled by this prepared environment and do not need to seek outside of it (as often).
My husband and I think it is important to eliminate saying no as much as possible. We both remember what it was like to be children, so we try not to arbitrarily set boundaries unless there is a real need to (such as danger, disrespect to materials and people, or destructiveness) and I feel this allows our children to be curious and independent in healthy parameters, while giving us authority in situations that matter.
As I mentioned above, we are also trying to raise our children with a personal love for their Catholic faith, and this greatly impacts the way we view our parenting journey and responsibilities. Much of what we decide is based on discernment and prayer, and I know it was through this discernment of what is true for our family that we were brought to Montessori.
Q4. What inspires you? Do you have any goals or intentions for this year or the next that you would like to share with us?
My intention this year is to listen. I think our society has a hard time sitting back and listening, and this is one of many areas Montessori and Catholicism really complement each other. I try to “listen” to my children, to follow their interests and capabilities, and in turn, I try to follow these cues in how I parent, organize our home and present their environment and works.
Most importantly, I am trying to listen, especially this year, to what is true and necessary for our lives. This means minimalizing the consumerist desires I have, minimalziing the need to be busy just for the sake of being busy, and not allowing technology such a prominent place in our lives. When I minimalize the other distractions in my life, I am able to listen more attentively to the voice of my faith.
I am so inspired by other bloggers, who seem to have their priorities in place, like Allie Cassaza, and Montessori bloggers who show me how possible it is to live out the Montessori philosophy peacefully and simply in the home. I am grateful to these people for sharing their wisdom on their blogs so that I am able to learn from and be inspired by them.
Q5. Are there any books or resources you would like to recommend, Montessori or other?
I am currently reading the Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori, and am really enjoying the wisdom I am finding there. I know I will be purchasing more of her books in the future.
I have also enjoyed How To Raise and Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin, as it was easy to read, understand, and work out strategies throughout.
Some of my favourite Blogs to follow (especially through Instagram) are:
- Every Day Begins New
- The Kavanagh Report
- Our Montessori Life
- How we Montessori
- Midwest Montessori