Malika Pham of the San Francisco Bay Area is now a mother of three with the recent addition of baby Jamila to her family. She is new to the Montessori method and is working on incorporating it at home. Malika notes it has taken a shift in her mindset to offer her baby challenges and not to constantly jump in to help. It seems to be working! Malika says she’s already seeing results of stepping back to observe while Jamila grows during those challenges.
Welcome to a day in the life of Malika and her family! We hope this series continues to spark inspiration for new ways to encourage learning at your home.
I like to let Amira, 5, and Sayid, 7, make their own snacks. They do really well when I model to show them first. They are happy to follow in my footsteps because they like to help. Which makes them more likely to eat their snack than if I prepared it and served it to them. Jamila loves to watch us cooking together, which I think is so good for her. I also let her touch and smell the ingredients, and talk about what we’re making.
I did everything for my older kids and I’m new to the Montessori way of life. I never thought to make it accessible for them to get their own snacks and drinks. I’m having to re-wrap my mind around things. I think of it as teaching a man to fish vs. giving him fish. I could give them things all day long, but it won’t help in their development as much.
Jamila, 7 months, is obsessed with her Monti Kids Teether Ball (Level 2). Putting it in the freezer helps with her gums, and she really likes it cold – it’s kind of like a little treat. She chews on it a little more. It’s funny because she notices the temperature when it’s cold, and will grip it a little less. My older daughter likes to go on her own and take it out of the freezer so it’s nice to see her help as she grows in her compassion for others.
We love to spend time out on our deck. I made a sort of mobile for Jamila that I hung outside that she loves to look at. I use old DVD’s that we glued them together with the shiny part out. I cut one string to hang it, and my older daughter helped. Jamila loves watching the sunlight bounce off the DVD’s and it was a great way to re-purpose them.
I definitely have started implementing a cleanup routine for the kids, beginning when my son was two years old. I just made everything accessible and have a place. The kids imprint on where everything is and where to find it. They always want to help, so I make it easy for them. Right now they don’t realize it’s a chore. Washing windows, sweeping and wiping down their tables is fun for them. We’re at the point where I can send them to their room and they can put everything back and we’ve made a lot of progress! I think Jamila is going to learn how to be organized earlier, since her toys already have all their own places on her shelf.
We let the kids run around and get fresh air. It’s good for me too. I noticed a long time can go by without leaving the house with a newborn and I’m trying to break that habit this time around. Walking is very much self-care – it feels good to be out. Whenever I leave the house without an agenda, that’s when I notice the kids can be their most free and creative. I don’t necessarily bring toys out. I want to see what they can do with their own imagination. They collect things when we’re out including leaves, branches and rocks.
Reading Before Bed
Each night, we all read together as a family. Jamila gets put down for her final sleep after the older kids are in bed, so we also do a separate reading session later with just her. When we read as a family we usually put her on her tummy and prop up the Monti Kids book in front of her.
Once the older kids are asleep we have more time to focus on the books and photos. Sometimes we’ll do a little sing-song. We’ll talk about what she’s looking at and sometimes make sounds – like eating noises – if she’s looking at fruit. Sometimes I’ve had the actual fruit that’s in our Monti Kids book, in the kitchen. So if I have a blueberry, I’ll go get it, and have her touch it. Or I’ll grab a slice of apple, and she’ll taste it. I think it helps with her learning and categorizing.
For more inspiration from the Pham family follow Malika on Instagram @_malika_yasmin_