Welcome to a day in the life of Sophie and her family! We hope this series continues to deliver inspiration on ways to incorporate Montessori at home.
My youngest is 24 months old as is still heavily reliant upon breast-milk as one of her main sources of nutrition. I am a believer in child-led weaning and therefore it is important to me that she is involved in food preparation (whenever she chooses to participate) in order to expose her to the new tastes and textures of different foods.
She loves to help prepare breakfast – it is the first practical life task which she chooses each morning, and it begins her work cycle with a task which is familiar, routine and which she can easily accomplish.
This sets the morning up nicely, with her going on to more complex activities throughout the next few hours, such as flower arranging. Helping to prepare the food also makes her feel that her contributions to the house are valued, and her sense of pride which accompanies her ever-increasing independence means that she is more likely to engage with the meal.
Flower arranging is one of her most favourite practical life activities. She began exploring this at 18 months old, when she would simply put the flowers into a vase. Step-by-step I introduced the separate skills involved in the activity so that she could eventually become successful at arranging the flowers on her own. She is now ready to cut the stems of the flowers herself, but she still struggles with thick stems such as the roses. Therefore, to set her up for success, I pre-cut the roses. The activity is laid out step-by-step from left to right so that she can see what comes next in the process. This also aids logical thinking, along with working from left-to-right which forms the foundation of reading and writing.
We live very much in sync with the seasons and the girls thoroughly enjoy being involved in garden life – particularly during Spring and Summer. In this photo my girl is watering her radishes and peas. These have now grown since this photo and it is wonderful seeing her pick the peas from the plant and enjoying the finished product! She loves nothing more than to carry her wicker basket into the garden to pick herself a snack!
I have recently written a booklet all about creating an outdoor garden space from a Montessori perspective including activities, materials, the prepared environment and more. It can be found at my website under ‘Montessori Garden – The Booklet’.
Something I adore about gardening is how the girls learn about the life cycle of a plant. They particularly enjoy planting sunflower seeds, to then remove the seeds from the final flower head to fill the bird feeders and nourish the Blue Tits which nest in our bird box. So much botany and science involved in such an inviting activity. Learning about the life cycle of a plant is fantastic for indirectly teaching young children that all things in life have a beginning, and inevitably, an end – but that life thrives together.
Feeding the Ducks
Everyday we try to get outside, whether this is just in the garden, for a walk around the local community or a trip to a country park.
My daughter has always loved ducks! It was one of the first sign-language signs she learnt when she was just 9 months old and it is an activity which has remained close to heart to this day.
When we are outside together, I leave endless time for her to explore according to her own interests. Some days we make it as far as the front door step, for her to be mesmerised by a ladybird on a leaf and to spend the next 45 minutes watching, asking questions and exploring.
It is important to me that my girls live a child-led, slow-paced life. This not only enables them to engage on a deeper level with the world around them, but naturally enables me to nurture the foundations of learning to concentrate. By living a slow paced child-led life, we can begin to live ‘in the moment’ alongside our children, and to truly appreciate the beauty of all the nature around us.
It enables the children to live free of interruption, adult-guidance and rushing to different baby or child classes. The natural world also brings such an incredible sensorial experience to children – something which is so important in this first half of the first plane of development (0-3 years).
Here you can see my girl preparing lunch in the great outdoors. She enjoyed this so much in fact, that we then decided to give her the opportunity of planting cucumber seeds in her greenhouse. She recently harvested her first cucumber and it was a big hit! Cheese and cucumber sandwiches, anybody?
After some play it’s snack time. Oh the beauty of making freshly squeezed orange juice! It’s a fantastic activity for strengthening the hand and helping to build the skills needed for later pen grip and writing. Practical life skills form the basis of all future development – including logical thinking, whole body co-ordination and independence.
Evening Meal and Pudding Prep
My youngest adores strawberries. We have a local ‘pick your own’ farm and we regularly go there in summer so that the girls can harvest the strawberries and bring them home to wash, slice and serve with Greek yoghurt. The perfect summer desert! Notice how the tools she works with are child-size – this ensures that she can manipulate the tools in a controlled manner, and it sets her up for success with the task in hand. This colander was a wonderful purchase and is used daily by the girls!
Playing with Monti Kids Before Bed
The evening time is the time when my youngest most concentrates on shelf work. She usually works for approximately 90 minutes between 7:30 and 9 p.m. It is during this time when I spend most of my time observing her current developmental needs, and thinking through how I can ensure that her environment always satisfies her current skill set along with presenting the next level of challenge – this ensures that she is always engaged with the environment and that she can persevere and concentrate through increasingly challenging work cycles.
For more inspiration from the Hayes family, follow @thenaturalmontessorian on Instagram.