I first met Karla many years ago when I was looking for some suitable aprons for Caspar. I loved the aprons in her Etsy store so much that I bought more than one for our own home and started buying them for friends. I remember featuring Karla's daughter Ruby here and I eagerly awaited another opportunity to find out more about this Montessori family.
If you are skimming this post please stop and watch the video of Ruby washing the dishes. Essential viewing for parents with toddlers!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your family, and where you live?
I am a stay-at-home Montessori mom. I have my AMI Montessori Primary training for ages 3-6 and have started the AMI Assistants to Infancy training for birth to age 3. I discovered in my training that I have a passion for making Montessori materials. I sell my materials in my Etsy shop Handmade Montessori. I live in Austin, TX with my husband and our 2 1/2 year old daughter Ruby. We have a Montessori home and Ruby attends a Montessori toddler community.
When and how did you become interested in the work of Montessori?
I became interested in becoming a Montessori teacher when I was about to graduate from college with a degree in Computer Engineering. It was my last year of college and I had begun the process of looking for an engineering job. I was very unenthusiastic about the prospects and really had no clue what I wanted to be doing with my life.
I went on vacation with my two younger cousins and had a blast hanging out with them. We talked about their troubles in their traditional school and I just knew in my gut that they were being treated with no respect for their emotional needs. That’s when I realized I wanted to work with children.
I started remembering my own childhood experiences in Montessori school - I went to Montessori school through 8th grade. I hadn’t thought about my Montessori experience in years and had never really thought of it as being different or special. But the differences between my experience in Montessori school and my cousins’ experiences in traditional school were clear.
I graduated college and worked as a Computer Engineer for two years. It was not a fulfilling career, so I went for it and took my Montessori Primary training. I worked as a Montessori teacher for 7 years at both private and public Montessori schools.
How have you applied Montessori at home?
When my husband and I decided to have a baby, I knew I wanted to know more about the Montessori approach for birth to age 3. So I started my Assistants to Infancy training. I took the first summer of training, which covers birth through the first year. I also worked as an assistant to a wonderful Montessori toddler teacher. I got to experience a beautiful community and see first-hand how very capable these young children are if you trust them and provide a beautiful environment with rich opportunities.
We have modeled our home environment from what I have learned through all of my Montessori experience. Ruby has had a floor bed since birth, she has low shelves with interesting activities available to her at all times, and low tables and rugs for her to use independently. We try to set up everything we do so that she can be involved in some meaningful way. Here are a few videos of her participating in the care of our home.
I also love creating Montessori materials for my daughter. The possibilities for Montessori activities are endless, but it can be very hard to find good materials. I make a lot of her toys myself, which allows me to really follow her interests. She loves dogs, for example, so I created this dog breed language set which has little plastic dog figures and a set of photos to match. She has learned the breed names of the 12 dogs in the set and it has inspired her to learn the dog breeds we come across in real life too!
Ruby is still very young and her needs change frequently. Our home has been a constant work-in-progress since she was born. From infancy, to crawling, to walking, to potty training, to now there have been a lot of new developments and changing needs. Montessori is about creating an environment - physical, emotional, and spiritual - that meets your child’s needs wherever they are in their development. Its a lot of work to keep up with her, but definitely worth it to help her become a confident and capable young person.
Are there any books, websites, blogs that you could recommend?
Montessori From the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen is a wonderful book about Montessori from birth to age 3.
Aid to Life is a great website with lots of information and videos for birth to age 3.
Edison’s Day is a video of Montessori in the home. You can buy it here or ask your Montessori school if they have a copy to borrow. It is amazing to see all the ways a 20- month-old child can really be involved in and contribute in meaningful ways to the daily life of the family.
Where do you find inspiration?
Two of my favorite recent books:
Thank you Karla and her family for this wonderful interview. The video of Ruby washing the dishes and the matching dog set are just fabulous!
P.S. If you think you spy Henry in the above photograph, I think you might be right.