This is the second interview in the Exploring the Essence of Montessori series. If you missed it, you can read the first interview with Paije. Today I would like to Introduce to Kaitlin Luksa! I connected with Kaitlin over Social media and have enjoyed following her parenting journey.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I am a 29-year-old from Quebec currently living in Ontario with my husband, Josh, and my two children Lorelei (23 months) and Russell (6.5 months). I am now a stay-at-home mom, but before my daughter was born I worked as a graphic designer. My hobbies include painting, classical singing and reading.
How did you discover MONTESSORI?
While I was pregnant with my daughter I started frequenting a general parenting forum, and it was there that I first heard of a floor bed as an alternative to a crib. I was intrigued; I had never before considered setting up my baby’s nursery in any way except the “mainstream” way. Considering the needs and desires of the baby when setting up a room for her was an entirely new and appealing concept to me. From floor beds it was just a hop, skip and a jump to discovering Montessori. It was love at first sight! Soon I had added The Absorbent Mind and Montessori from the Start to my parenting book list. I scrapped everything I had previously thought about creating spaces for children and set up my daughter’s very first nursery/playroom with Montessori principles in mind. I feel very fortunate to have discovered Montessori before my first child was born, so I never had anything to “undo”. I implemented the philosophy from the very beginning.
What does Montessori parenting mean to you, and what are some of the ways that you have implemented Montessori at home?
For me Montessori parenting means, first and foremost, having a profound respect for children. From their very first day onwards, I have done my best to treat my children with the same courtesy and dignity as I would extend to any other human being. This includes talking to them with real language, considering and respecting their boundaries, and listening to and observing them. I have also learned through following Montessori principles to trust my children and see them as capable. By preparing environments in my home to my children’s needs, and leaving real tools in their reach, I have seen first hand the amazing things children can do!
What is the most challenging part of being a Montessori parent
For me personally, it’s slowing down and giving my children the space to do things for themselves. I am a little bit of a perfectionist and that can be hard for me to turn off. I obviously can make scrambled eggs much faster than my toddler can, and the kitchen is usually much messier afterwards when she cracks the eggs instead of me. It helps to step back and look at things from my child’s point of view. While I am in a hurry to just get my to-do list done, my daughter is satisfied by slowly practicing these simple tasks. I am always reminding myself to enjoy the process, not the result.
There are many examples of parenting one child the Montessori way. In my experience, things change when you move from one child to 2. Was this your experience?
It is definitely busier, especially with two under two. I have needed to learn to balance the needs of both my children carefully. Setting up my home to allow my toddler independence does help; I do not need to do everything for her. I also find having a flexible daily schedule helps keep stress down and gives my children more freedom to choose their own activities. I’d say with two or more children it is best to just go with their flow.
You are a screen free household. Is this in following Montessori principles or a personal choice. Has it been hard to stay screen free? What do you do in place of TV
I should clarify that we do have screens in our home; My husband and I each have a phone and computer and we have a TV in the basement. However, my children currently get zero screen time at home and my husband and I do our best not to use screens excessively while we are with our children. I am not anti-technology. I actually think smart phones and the internet in general let people do a lot of amazing things. I would even say that there are opportunities for children to learn with and through these computers and touch screens. That said, as my oldest child is not even yet 2, I think there is plenty of time to get to it later. From a Montessori perspective, I think there are many more activities that are far more beneficial for her at this age. A digital experience is never going to be as enriching for a toddler as a real one. Sure there are puzzle apps that mimic playing with a real puzzle, but they don’t offer the child the tactile shape of the pieces, rotating them in their hands, actually feeling the pieces click together correctly. These sensations are very important to a young child.
I honestly haven’t found it difficult to fill the “void” left by not using screens. Since my daughter hasn’t spent much time using a tablet or watching TV, she never craves it. We have a playroom “yes space” which is safe and gated off where my children can play freely and I can walk away for a few minutes. When my children get a little older I’d also love to introduce audiobooks and radio dramas as another screen free form of entertainment.
Your favorite toy/material for infant?
Favorites for both my children have been the butterfly mobile, the Skwish rattle and the object permanence box. Balls of all sizes are also a bit hit.
Favorite toy/material for toddler?
The Plan Toys Cone Sorter, puzzles of all kinds, and the ball run from Tag Toys have been popular here. My toddler’s favorite activities are all practical life, which take very little in the way of special materials!
Please share some of your Montessori spaces.
We have child-centered areas all over our home.
The main one is our playroom/yes space. This is where the majority of my children’s materials are located. The room is divided by a shelf into an area for my toddler, and a smaller movement area for my infant son (although both children freely move around the whole room). There is also a reading nook and a climbing dome for gross motor activity.
We have a shelf set up in the kitchen where we keep small plates, cutlery, and cleaning supplies. We also have a weaning table and a learning tower.In our living room we have a smaller shelf with a few toys on it and a window facing our back yard. Our property backs on to green space, so my daughter spends a lot of time observing birds and other wildlife from here.
In our backyard I have a outdoor rug my son can move freely on while my daughter loves to dig up the gravel, practice pouring at her water table, or just run around in the grass. I would like to add a climbing structure to this space in the future. We try and spend a lot of time outside daily, no matter the weather!
The shared bathroom upstairs has our changing table and an area for standing diaper changes. We also have a tall stool so that my daughter can reach the sink to wash her hands and brush her teeth.
And then we have both bedrooms. My son sleeps in a room with just a floor bed and a shelf of some quiet play things, while my daughter has a low toddler bed, a dressing and self-care station, along with a reading nook.
What tips would you give to new Montessori parents?
Montessori is foremost a mindset; it isn’t about buying a whole bunch of expensive materials or having a pinterest-perfect space for your child. Even if nothing about your home is currently “Montessori”, one thing you can implement right this moment is seeing your child as capable and deserving of your respect. If you keep it in the back of your mind to respect your child in all things, you will be well on your way to implementing the spirit of Montessori in your home.
Why do you Montessori?
I am a Montessori parent because I truly believe in Maria’s research and I see it as still completely relevant today. I want to raise children that are confident, critical-thinkers, and self-motivated learners and I am convinced that Maria’s methods are the best way to encourage that.
If you would like to see more photos of Kaitlin’s beautiful Montessori spaces and get more glimpses into her application of Montessori in her home, follow her on Instagram
Thank you so much Kaitlin!
I loved the specific examples of how to show respect to the child and also the reminder that Montessori is a mindset and a total approach before anything else. What about? What spoke to you? Share in the comments!
If you would like to learn more about Montessori Parenting, sign up for the Nduoma Education from Birth e-course