Before I start today’s Montessori home tour, I would love to open up a conversation. One that was started by a dear friend in the Montessori community Andy Lulka. This is what she wrote:
“I wonder if there is a way we can share our ideal spaces without making it about the things in them – or about the space (that’s a large room!) or about the perfection of it. Can we talk about why this space works in a way that doesn’t make me feel I was an inadequate parent for not having the means with which to provide such a beautiful space, and at the same doesn’t shame these parents for creating an effective space for their child? Can we make it ok to show the space after the child has spent time in there tearing it apart, and can we talk about how we can’t always clean up every single day and make it perfect again because we are exhausted? Can we show what actually living with a child is like? Because even the most Montessori of Montessori children do make messes, and do throw things, and break things, and the most Montessori of Montessori parents also don’t always have the capacity to maintain this level of perfection.”
Yes, yes, and yes. I share these spaces to not to shame anyone. Not to make you feel bad if your space does not or never will look like these.
Many of you know I’m an idealist. I see these spaces as inspiration. To keep us filled with ideas how we can create spaces where the child is included, how we can fill our home with beauty (whatever that means to you), and that you can create these spaces whether your home is big or small, from Mongolia to the US, and ideally by re-using what you already have.
If you read the interviews, many parents come back to the idea that the materials and the space they create is important. But the most valuable part of Montessori for them is the respect they have learned to show to their child in everyday life.
So now I offer you our second home of the summer tour – a beautiful home in Austria from a Montessori teacher who now has 2 children of her own.
A Montessori home tour in Vienna, Austria
Today we are so honoured to have a peek behind the doors of their home and to hear more from Anna about how they use the Montessori approach at home.
Who lives here?
My Husband Thomas (44), our daughter Julia (5), our son Jakob (13 Weeks) and myself Anna (35).
How did you find out about Montessori?
When my little daughter Julia was born, I was overwhelmed and could hardly believe my luck but at the same time my life completely turned upside down. I tormented myself with countless questions: Should she sleep with us or rather be in her own bed? Shall I entertain her when she is awake? Is she developing the way she should? And how do babies develop anyway? How can I better understand my child?
On the recommendation of a good friend, I read a book from Emmi Pikler and Maria Montessori and I understood: my baby shows me exactly what they need. I just have to watch and trust her.
I stopped being crazy about whether she could play alone, whether she could fall asleep by herself and, instead, I started to observe and trust her and just let me be led by her.
That was the start of our Montessori journey and when I started to run our blog “parents from mars”.
Five years later, I finished a Montessori training (for 6-12 year olds) and just last year I started another one (for 3-6 year olds). As a toddler, Julia visited a Montessori nursery and now a Montessori children’s house and this spring she also got a little brother, Jakob, who is now 3 months old.
What do you find resonates most with you about the Montessori approach?
Children come with an immense potential into this world. They know exactly what they need to grow, how they can gain more independence from day to day, because nature has provided them with it from the very beginning. It was for me a long process to understand how I can accompany children on their way, how I just can be a “waiter” – who observes and only comes when he is needed.
What is currently your favourite thing to do at home with your children?
Julia is already 5 years old and in the middle of the sensitive phase for social learning. She is on the way to becoming a child in the second plane of development. Therefore, she is currently showing more interest in things she can do with others.
At the moment, she loves to sew on the sewing machine, but also when it comes to cooking or gardening, she always wants to be a part of it.
As for me, I enjoy cooking and gardening with her as well as trips at the weekends, but I also enjoy the conversations with a 5-year-old. These are often a lovely challenge for me. Not only because she is asking a lot of Why-questions, but also because, instead of running her answers, I try to invite her to find the answers by herself.
With Jakob, I really enjoy this early period. When Julia was that age, I did not know so much about the development of babies, so I missed the opportunity to observe and appreciate many of her accomplishments. But now I’m lucky to be able to observe and admire all Jakob’s little steps. I love to see how he explores his hands and direct environment!
Where do you hunt for Montessori style materials and furniture?
I find practical solutions and furniture mostly at Ikea and for materials I search either in local shops, at the flea market, on the Internet or I create something myself.
But no matter which shop I enter, I always have this certain look – in search of ideas, rarities, tasteful useful things, which are suitable for children’s eyes and children’s hands. I think that most of the people who live the Montessori-way end up getting this “odd trait”.
What’s one tip you would give to other parents wanting to set up their home Montessori-style?
Even if the materials are so enticing, beautiful and exciting, the attitude towards the children is much more important.
Creating a prepared environment that allows children to choose freely and become independent is certainly a great start. But more important is to observe children to understand them.
This takes time, patience with ourselves and a respectful attitude towards life.
Each of these steps are part of the development and are wonderful opportunities to encourage children to believe in themselves and become more independent.
It is really amazing what children reveal when we trust their abilities. All we have to do is: Let them be our guide.
Thank you so much to Anna for taking the time to take such gorgeous photos of your spaces. We can learn a lot from you. Once again you see:
- tools, objects of beauty and art at the child’s height
- a place for everything and everything in its place
- minimal clutter and things carefully prepared to make them beautiful and inviting
I’ll be back soon with the next home tour in our summer series. Until then…