Ah, you know I love finding spaces to share with you. Today another Montessori home tour. This time we get to visit Michelle (36), Victor (37) and Cara (2.5) who have recently moved to Norway. Michelle and Victor are a talented duo with their latest achievement being to write a book together called Growing Healthy Babies which will be published later this year.
I met this lovely family when they moved to Amsterdam and since then they have moved twice! First to Bloemendaal near the beach here in the Netherlands and then onto Norway. I think this time they are staying – the views of the fjords and trips to nature are too good to pass up.
I apologise in advance for any envy of those windows and the view. Maybe we can all move to Norway!
1. How did you find out about Montessori?
I always knew about it at some basic level because there are Montessori playschools and crèches in Ireland, but I had no idea then that it went further in education, or even that it could be a way of life. That’s something I discovered when we lived in Amsterdam after our daughter was born.
2. What do you find resonates most with you about the Montessori approach?
“Help me help myself”. What more of a gift can I give my child than helping her achieve her own goals, and also feel confident in achieving them herself? I always struggled in school with the structure of the system and the restrictions and limits it places on you. I see Montessori as a way for a child to discover their own strengths and talents and find their place in life. I didn’t have those opportunities in school, and I’m happy my daughter will get them – especially with the workplace changing so much in the near future due to automation.
I think now more than ever kids need to be able to discover what excites them, and how to teach themselves new skills in rapidly changing environments. I believe Montessori is the best way for my daughter to do that.
3. What is currently your favourite thing to do at home with Cara?
There are 3 things we both love.
Playing with blocks, just simple wooden blocks. This amuses her for hours, and it’s beautiful seeing her use her imagination in creating characters and acting out scenes.
Secondly, taking care of plants and growing seedlings together. We’ve just set up a little winter garden in our house. She has access to her own water, which she uses to fill a little jug or watering can and take care of the plants. She’s learning to check the soil to know if they need watering, and I adore when she talks to them daily and asks if they are ok. I love that she will learn how food is grown and where it comes from.
Which leads me to the last thing, cooking and food prep. We teach her to cook basic things like omelettes and pancakes, but also to feed sourdough starters and make kombucha and kefir and kimchi. She eats and drinks all of it, and I love passing these skills on to her.
4. Where do you hunt for Montessori style materials and furniture?
When I still lived in Amsterdam, I bought some things from the Absorbent Minds website. Now I live in Norway, and with the import tax being so high I’ve had to get more creative! I think we’ve actually bought a lot in IKEA. They have some nice little natural wood shelves, baskets, a balance beam etc.
I brought a lot of beeswax crayons with me from Amsterdam, and I’ve managed to find natural playdoughs and paints here in Norway. I try so hard to keep things simple and natural, thinking of the environmental impact, so we try to avoid plastics and other unnecessary chemicals whenever possible.
5. What’s one tip you would give to other parents wanting to set up their home Montessori-style?
Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to look like the Pinterest blogs. What matters is that it works for your family and helps your child achieve things themselves. We added things bit by bit. We don’t have any fancy IKEA-hacked wardrobe for our daughter. We just put down 3 little IKEA baskets – tops in one, trousers in another, and pyjamas in another. It works, she loves it, she dresses herself now – but it’s still cheap and easy to do.
Thank you so much for the tour Michelle and family! We are all inspired to make our spaces a little more beautiful and inviting for our children after that tour. Be sure to follow Michelle on Instagram @growinghealthybabies for lots of fjord photos and ideas for living with less footprint on the earth (as well as book updates too!).