I started a Montessori and Simple Family living series of Interviews with the hope, 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 Isabel from Love and Wellies. A former primary school teacher, mother of three and home educator.
Q1. Dear Isabel, would you like to share with us a bit about yourself, your family and what part of the world you live in?
I am Isabel, 30 years old, and myself and my husband live in rural Derbyshire in England. We have three children. Joseph who is four, Alice who is about to turn three and Jude who is nearly 11 months. We’ve just moved from a small two bedroom bungalow to a farmhouse and are slowly getting used to the space and new surroundings.
Q2. How did you first start on a Montessori path and what does this journey mean to you and your family?
I had heard of Montessori before having children but all I knew was that it is something about promoting independence. I hadn’t thought about it any more than that. Looking back, I wish I had delved into her method more as it would have greatly influenced how I taught my pupils (I was a primary school teacher before having children).
We had taken our son to a baby group and the lady running the session was a Montessori teacher. Her own son was drinking from a small glass and we got chatting. This then sparked further research and the realisation that the Montessori method for raising and teaching children made total sense. What a beautiful, peaceful and joyful way to bring up a child.
Since then I have read and researched and implemented as much as I can into our daily lives. It has been eye opening to see our children flourish and develop from tiny newborns to independent children.
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?
Montessori has certainly scaffolded our parenting style. We’ve always been pro-independence and it has influenced us in creating a prepared home and learning environment that can really encourage our children to help themselves.
It is a joy to watch them get their own snack when they are hungry or help prepare their meals. I love how proud they are when they accomplish something on their own or are simply able to have the opportunity to try.
I also home educate and take other methods as inspiration for learning and parenting as well as Montessori which include forest schooling and a Waldorf style as well as Charlotte Mason. I believe that these types of methods can easily interweave with each other. I take elements of them and have created something that is flexible and works for us at the moment.
Certainly the most challenging part of parenting for me is this small voice in my head that is often telling me not to mess them up. It’s the guilt when I’ve not had a good day or I’ve not dealt with a situation in the best way. It’s feeling tired to my bones and snapping because my patience has run thin. It’s also the personal journey I’ve gone on to become the parent that I am- there has been a lot of soul searching and issues from my own childhood and how I was parented that have influenced what I do and don’t do with my own children.
On the back of this I would say to look at what you loved and disliked about your own childhood. Look at what your parents did and what you would like to repeat (or not) with your children. If you had a bad day don’t beat yourself up over it (I need to listen to my own advice on that one!!).
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?
This is a hard one as so much inspires me! I suppose my main inspiration has to be my children. I follow them as much as possible, their likes and dislikes, their needs and wants and we build a rhythm around them.
I read lots of parenting blogs and draw inspiration from others who seem to be on a similar path to our family. It has been hard to find like minded parents where we live so I look to the online community a lot. I love Instagram and all the beautiful photos on there can be a great source of inspiration although I am mindful that a beautiful, well lit shot doesn’t always tell the whole story!
The season and nature are a huge inspiration too. We are following the ‘Explore Nature with Children‘ curriculum which is guiding us through a year of nature and is a great source of focus. We are outside as much as possible and I find that the freedom of the outdoors really helps when anyone is beginning to feel frustrated, angry, anxious or over excited. The ability to open our door onto the countryside is one I do not take for granted and am grateful for it everyday.
This year and the next is about learning for me and the children. Not academically as much but learning about our surroundings and ourselves within it. I want to be able to name all the trees on our land and identify plants with ease. I want us to feel totally at one with where we are. Settled an safe. The move has been a tough one and really shaken normality for our eldest. I want, in a years time, for him to be feeling like this is our home.
Q5. Are there any books or resources you would like to recommend, Montessori or other?
Iv’e recently read ‘There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather‘ by Linda Akeson McGurk and that was a great book to inspire getting out in all the elements armed with good waterproofs and common sense. I would definitely recommend that to anyone who loves being outside in all weather and to those who find it hard to muster the courage when it is wet and cold!
I am a sucker for a beautiful children’s book. Even before having children I always headed for the children’s section in bookshops and library’s. There are too many to name! My absolute favourite is ‘Where my Wellies Take me’ by Claire and Michael Morpurgo which is a gorgeous scrapbook type story about a girl on a walk. Simple but beautiful with lovely illustrations, poems and maps. I can sit and look through it over and over and note tire or how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel!