Home Tour, Montessori style

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Several months ago I wrote a post about how we invited Montessori into our home.

While I may have only scratched the surface of what Montessori means, I have come to understand that it is more than just a type of school or style of education; it’s a framework that guides my parenting, a new lens through which I see my daughter. Montessori is a way of life. And, that includes how I have prepared my home for my daughter.

Today I’d like to invite you into our two-bedroom city apartment. Not to show you the massive Rita Hayworth portrait above my credenza, or the random CraigsList finds I’ve scored over the years, or my 1940s record player. (I do love my vintage record player, though!) Rather, to show you how we’ve made room for children.

Before becoming a mom, I always swore that I would never, ever turn my house upside down to accommodate my kids. Call me selfish, call me vain. But, I guess at the heart of it, I didn’t want to make my child/-ren the center of the home. I feared having garish plastic toys screeching out the ABCs on repeat on my living room floor.

However, I’ve come to understand that accommodating a child in your home is not the same as making her the center of the universe. In Montessori there is a lot of talk about the “prepared environment:” “…Maria Montessori’s concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child.”

Today, I’d like to share with you how, through the basic principles of Montessori, D. and I have, little by little, made room for our daughter.

Those principles of the prepared environment are:

-Is each room safe for the child?

-Is each room accessible and welcoming to the child?

-Is each room clean, orderly, and peaceful?

-Is each room aesthetically appealing, beautiful?

-Does each room facilitate the child’s independence and learning?

E. is an equal member of our family, so it seems only right that she has a part in each room of our apartment, an indicator to her that she is welcome everywhere (minus my shoe collection…ha!) and a reminder to D. and I that we live with a little person with different needs than our own.

So, bienvenidos a nuestra casa.

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More books! {Selecting Montessori-inspired toddler books in Spanish}

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(Photo via Flickr CC)

Our little family of three recently came back from a month-long trip to España, my husband’s home country. Friends in the States often ask us, “what are you allowed to bring back?” or comment, “I bet you did a lot of great shopping!”

On past trips, D. and I have brought home wine, vermouth, and other alcoholic drinks that are much cheaper in Spain than in the States; we’ve also saved room for chuches (Spanish gummy candy that I’m addicted to), and sometimes vacuum-sealed cheese. This time, however, being E.’s first trip there, I held off on the candy and cheese (oh, don’t worry, we saved room for el vino!), and instead made room for books in Spanish for E. Continue reading

“Is she a good eater?” (Enjoying food with a toddler)

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As the mother of a toddler, I am often asked about my 21-month old daughter’s eating habits. In fact, on our recent trip to Spain, it was the topic of many conversations with friends and family (perhaps because food is such an integral part of the Spanish culture?)

¿Cóme bien? (Is she a good eater?)

¿Lo come todo? (Does she eat everything?)

¿Cómo consigues que coma las verduras? (How do you get her to eat vegetables?)

These questions – all from a place of good intentions and honest curiosity – have left me wondering, how do we define “good (or “bad”) eaters? and, I certainly don’t eat everything!, and I don’t! I can’t make her do anything!

So, for those of you curious how D. and I maneuver the tricky culinary adventures of eating with a toddler, I thought I’d share what I have learned from more seasoned parents, as well as from my own reading into RIE parenting and Montessori. Continue reading

Final Thoughts from our Trip to España

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We made it back to the other side of “El Charco” just a few days ago. It’s taking us a bit longer to break free from the jet lag and adjust to the six-hour time difference (i.e., days starting at 4am).

Despite the cansancio and despite D.’s and my sadness at no longer having total access to jamón serrano, we’re still running high on fond memories of our month-long trip to Spain.

There’s so much to say, so many thoughts, that I thought I’d just put them all down together, potpourri style, in one blog post. Continue reading