My very first job was as a babysitter. From about 15 years old, my sister and I had a consistent schedule of looking after all the families with young kids on the street. We’re both nurturers and adore children, so it fits us immensely well, and so we continued throughout university up until we established our careers.
One of the many benefits of being around so many kids and families were the insight it provided into just how many ways there are to parent. Of course, some ways reasonated more than others, but it more importantly instilled respect within me of how others choose to do it. This has given me a certain immunity to, what feels like, the divisiveness of how to parent in online communities.
When it comes to raising little ones, there are a lot of big feelings out there on how to do it right at every single turn of the journey. I feel myself warming up to a prelude of what I’m sharing about motherhood here on the blog is not how I think everyone should do it. While this may be obvious dear reader, I feel like I need to write that to ease myself into feeling okay with sharing this part of my life and learning. With that written and out of the way, I’d love to share with you my love affair and fascination with the work of Dr Maria Montessori (Montessori Mondays perhaps 🤔) and how I have found it so useful in guiding me in raising a tiny human.
From my babysitting days, I observed that the kids who attended Montessori education programs seemed to have a wonderful curiosity and independence about them. The kinds of questions they asked, the tasks they felt confident doing around the house and how they related to me all caught my attention.
As I delved into Dr Montessori’s work, I could see why I was feeling such an alignment with this approach to nuturing kids – it is so similar to naturopathic medicine philosophy. The biggest crossovers are:
- You are your child’s guide. Not their boss/commander/authoritarian. You are teaching and showing them how to move through the world.
- A well-prepared environment is like having an extra carer/parent. If a space is set up mindfully so that it is safe with activities that engage and places to rest, a child can be given the freedom to explore and learn.
- Humans have a natural ability to learn. The naturopathic version of this is, Humans have a natural ability to heal, we simply need to create opportunities, remove the obstacles and nature will take care of the rest.
- Individual development. Every human is different and will develop in their unique way, on their timeline. Montessori respects how different children learn, and supports their individual development.
- Observe, Observe, Observe. Instead of responding or jumping in straight away, observe. It’s amazing how much more information we can gather that helps us make more informed decisions on how to respond.
And of course, nothing like a good plant analogy to have me on board:
“[T]he educators [including parents] behave as do good gardeners and cultivators toward their plants.” —Dr. Maria Montessori, The Formation of Man