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Montessori Makeover

Saturday 4th July, 2020

Montessori and minimalism are so perfectly aligned that I can not believe I didn't delve into this sooner. The idea of paring down toys, presenting a selection of things on a beautifully-selected tray, creating 'white space' around toys... is all so 'up my simplifying street.' And yet I listened to the fairly typical defeatist thought that said since I hadn't started it when Grace was about 11 days old, there was no point. Ahh, for misplaced perfectionism.

So here I am finally 'delving' into it. And by delving I largely mean I've ordered a Kallax shelf unit from Ikea (hard to get during Covid, I can tell you), been shopping for pretty trays and baskets and listening to podcasts. Oh, and I bought some rather nice wooden toys (in the sale, of course, so it would've been wrong not to) and purchased a rather large wooden double rocker on behalf on my dad for the kids' birthday. He was very grateful that I'd thought of the present for him and he didn't have to do any searching. I was going to ask his permission before I bought it, but Etsy was screaming at me that 12 other people already had this item in their basket and there was only 1 item left. What a clever little marketing strategy that was. It worked. I panic bought.

In short, what I've realised is that I'm actually embarking on an interior design project. But what can I say? It always makes me happy to do so. So I'm going to Montessori-up the house and get excited about putting pegs at child-level and building a miniature 'breakfast bar' in the kitchen to put the new Ikea stools under. Did I mention the stools? They are coming in an additional Ikea purchase, not the Kallax one.

Lest you fear I'm not taking this very seriously, I'm also doing a lot of research on Pinterest (that's what led me to Etsy). I'm creating a board of Montessori 'tray activities', so it's not all interior design, though I'd be lying if I said that wasn't a primary motivation. By the way, if you're new to Montessori, then the idea is you put an activity of sorts (like two jugs facing each other, one half filled with water) at the toddler's height and they choose the activity tray because it so intriguing and attractive. They are lured in. And the beauty is they also tidy it up afterwards and put said tray back in its little place on the shelf, with the 'white space' surrounding it. The thought of it almost makes me want to go back to teaching.

Have I done any actual Montessori just yet? Yes, a little. It's not entirely in project stage, where I redesign the entire house based on an educational theory. I have done the jug activity mentioned and one involving lentils, another couscous and a couple with red food colouring. I have to say, the kids were pretty interested. It actually drew them both away from their ipads when I went into the play room, bearing a tray with a 'coin activity' on it. So if that isn't a litmus test I don't know what is.

My Kallax shelf unit is arriving on 23rd July, so I'm hoping that's when things are really going to get going. In my ideal world, the children will glide into the dining room in the morning, singing, select their pretty tray activity, take it to the table, not kill each other fighting over each other's trays, and sit there with gasps of 'ooh' and 'ahhh', absorbed in their new-found wonderment at the world.

I'll let you know on the 24th of July.

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