I started a Montessori and Simple Family living series of Interviews with the hopes, as Readers, you may gain some information, encouragement, support and inspiration and just maybe, a way to connect with other like-minded families.
Today I am introducing you to the lovely Theresa from Montessori in Real Life. Theresa is a Montessori educator, Blogger (among other things) and mother to 13 month old Dakota.
Q1. Dear Theresa, would you like to share with us a bit about yourself, your family and what part of the world you live in?
Seattle is where I was born and where I live now, and I have lived in the Pacific Northwest almost all of my life. I can’t imagine living anywhere else! I grew up with a family who spent our free time outdoors, and that has continued to be a big part of my life. I love adventure, but I also love our home. My husband and I moved into our first house a week before Dakota was born, and we spend a lot of time making this house “home”. I am not artistic, but I love arts and crafts. My husband is from Ohio but fell in love with the northwest a few years ago when he became a long-distance trail runner. He is always good at getting me and Dakota out the door for our next adventure no matter how tired we may be. 🙂
Q2. How did you first start on a Montessori path and what does this journey mean to you and your family?
After college I was searching for a couple of part-time gigs on Craigslist, and one of my applications was for a Montessori teacher assistant position. I ended up interviewing and getting the job at a brand new Montessori school in Portland. At the time I knew close to nothing about Montessori but quickly fell in love with the philosophy, environment, toddlers, and the teachers. Although it was “love at first sight”, I was already on the path towards a doctorate program in developmental psychology, so I left after a year to pursue other dreams.
Part-way through my graduate program at University of Washington, I began to have doubts about the path I was on in academia. I missed working directly with children, and parents as well. I left the program with my Master’s degree, and started work again at a local Montessori school. While working as a Teacher’s assistant in this school, I earned my infant-toddler AMS certification during the Summer and weekends. Before long I co-taught a toddler class and led my own parent-child classes. It was all such a wonderful experience for me, and I quickly realised I was much more passionate about Montessori than what I was studying at grad school. It has also been incredibly beneficial since becoming a mom. I love implementing all that I learned in my training and teaching experience with Dakota, and also sharing those ideas with others.
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?
In addition to Montessori, RIE principles have also shaped my parenting style. Both of these philosophies place the utmost importance on treating babies and toddlers as human beings, with real emotions, ideas and capabilities. This is always on my mind in parenting Dakota. I always aim to treat her with respect and to give her independence, and of course love her unconditionally.
I also tend to let Dakota discover things for herself, at her own pace, rather than direct her play and activities. I provide the materials, the environment, and perhaps model, but then let her explore in her own way, and help only when needed. In the Montessori classroom, we are called guides rather than teachers, and I try to take on that role in motherhood as well.
There are so many challenges in motherhood, it’s hard to decide! 😉 One recent issue….now that Dakota is 13 months, she is really starting to exert her will. One example of this is throwing food off the table. She does this a lot right now, and I can see that she is both exploring and testing limits. Following RIE advice, I usually stop her from throwing the food and explain that I can’t let her do that right now and that food is for eating. I give her a couple of chances and then we might end the meal early. But it can be hard to be consistent every time, especially when we are in a hurry! I do find solutions such as this tougher at home than as a teacher in school, when everything was much more structured, and the kids weren’t my own! It’s always humbling, and I do appreciate that I am constantly still learning.
My best advice for parents is to find the right philosophy for your family, but also to know it’s ok to modify based on your own child and situation. There is no one size fits all with parenting. The most important thing is for you all to be happy, rested and sane. For example, maybe you tried the floor bed but nobody is sleeping. Take a break and try another month, or don’t! I think Instagram is great for inspiration and community, but don’t let it become a comparison game. We’re all doing the best we can, and we all love our babes the most.
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?
I am always inspired by fellow bloggers and Instagramers! I am inspired by wonderful Montessori teachers, including the ones at the local school Dakota will attend when she’s two. I am an avid reader, and always enjoy getting inspiration from the latest parenting or child development book, even if it’s not exactly the philosophy I follow. Most of all I am inspired by Dakota, who has taught me how to love fiercer than I knew possible.
My greatest intention for this year is to slow down. The days go by far too fast, and sometimes I feel like I’m going about my day just as fast. I want to get better at sitting and just being, with Dakota, but also with myself. While there will always be a million things on my to-do list, these first few years with sweet Dakota won’t last forever. My goal is to fill up our calendar less to enjoy the simple life more. This includes disconnecting from time to time!
Q5. Are there any books or resources you would like to recommend, Montessori or other?
Montessori from the Start is always my go-to recommendation for people new to Montessori. I really enjoy Janet Lansbury’s RIE books too. I am currently reading No Bad Kids and it’s really insightful. Understanding the Human Being was one I read in my AMS training and is a timeless Montessori read on the first 3 years. The sleepeasy Solution was our go-to for finally getting some sleep.
Thanks so much Theresa for being a part of this Interview series! If you would like to read more, you can find Theresa over on her beautiful Blog HERE and her Instagram account HERE. You can also read more Interviews like this one HERE.