A Day in the Life: Nicole Kavanaugh incorporates Montessori at home

A Day in the Life: Nicole Kavanaugh incorporates Montessori at home

Nicole Kavanaugh of Minnesota is the mother of three with a baby due in September. Nicole is kicking off our Day in the Life series. She walks us through her toddler Gus’ day, and how she applies the Montessori method at home.

We started our A Day in the Life series to show how families interpret Montessori at home from all walks of lives. We hope this series sparks inspiration for new ways to encourage learning at home.

Getting Dressed

Gus can pick out his outfit if he wants. I keep his entire collection of clothes limited based on what’s appropriate for the weather. Everything coordinates so I don't have to worry about his outfit choices.

When Gus dresses himself, it’s really hit or miss because 2.5 year olds are finicky. Sometimes he’ll put his clothes on backward, and that’s OK!

We want him to feel the competence of that success and I always balance what’s the risk of harm versus that feeling of confidence and independence. I really don’t see any risk of harm if he has his shirt on backward.

Toddler-Friendly Kitchen Set-Up

We have a child-sized set up in the kitchen for Gus and his big sister Nora. That’s where we store everything they might need to cook or use for kitchen work. They have smaller pots and pans, pitchers and tools which they can choose depending on what we’re doing. We also have a water supply at toddler height, so they can help themselves.

We use ceramic dishes because we want to give our children what we would give ourselves. We want to give them the most beautiful and real version of what they can do. It’s showing trust to the child, and it’s also great for natural consequences. The dishes do break occasionally, but it’s rare.

We have a smaller section of our fridge that includes snacks for the kids so they can help themselves. We include fresh fruit and snacks that they can open independently.


Gus can go into our fenced-in backyard whenever he wants. From vegetables to flowers, there’s always something he’s helping grow. It’s such a great language opportunity as he learns the specific names of the flowers and vegetables and how to keep his kale safe from the bunnies. In the coming months, we’ll harvest everything, bring it to the kitchen and cook it for dinner.

We have a special planter set up for the kids, which is completely their space. We went to a garden center and they picked out the seeds they wanted to put in and plant. Their garden is completely independent work for them as they weed and water their plants. Sometimes we’ll find a weed in the yard and we’ll want to see what it looks like so we’ll replant it and see what it looks like as it grows.
Play with Monti Kids

Play is work and work is play. Gus has the freedom to come into his playroom and engage with whatever he wants. It’s really dependent on him. I always keep a few Monti Kids toys in rotation. Some days he’ll sit and play with toys on the shelf for a couple of hours and other days he would rather be folding laundry. And that’s totally fine too.

Watering Indoor Plants

Watering indoor plants is another one of Gus’ favorite activities. He first learned how to water the plants by watching me. He now knows how to fill his watering can up at the sink and then water the plants in the playroom. We pick plants that are hardy and can withstand a lot of water! When he spills, that’s an opportunity for him to get a cloth and keep the area clean.

Books Before Bed

We read each night before bed as part of our routine. It could be one book or it could be an hour of reading books. We’re flexible based on everyone’s mood and needs. I like to rotate the kids’ books based on what I’m observing, so I don’t have a schedule or set time to rotate. If I notice that there are some books that are not being read then I do rotate them, but I try not to rotate them all at once because that disrupts their sense of order. Usually there are those two or three books that they want to read continuously that stay there.

When it comes to our collection of books, I look for illustrations that are both beautiful and realistic. We don’t read fantasy books under the age of six. I look for things that pique their interest and things they’re interested in, so it might be a theme of summer, bugs or gardening right now. I also like to include books that are diverse in content and character. I like to expose the kids to a good representation from a bunch of cultures and points of view.

For more inspiration you can follow Nicole on Instagram @nikkav2 and check back for our next 'A Day in the Life' family.

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