Five Things - Quiet and clean indoor activities
Tummy Time

Clayton's Family

Clay 2 reading

Remember Clay from the DIY Learning Tower? Today his mum Charlene joins us and allows us to take a peek into their lives and how they are influenced by Montessori. Charlene was the inspiration for this series and I cannot thank her enough for her contribution. 


Can you tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you live?

My name is Charlene and I live in the Hunter Valley with my partner of 10 years, Natasha (she’s a paramedic) and our son Clayton who is 22 months old.


Clay 2 cooking


When and how did you first become interested in the work of Montessori?

I first became interested in Montessori when I was living in England and Nanning for a family with two daughters, one of which had been to a Montessori Children’s House. I had always had an interest in education but did not want to be a traditional teacher!

I then trained in London at the AMI training institute to become a 3-6 Directress. I worked in London for 3 years. Two years working at MMI (Maria Montessori Institute) run schools. The experience I gained there was invaluable. I feel very blessed to have had that experience, working with some truly inspirational people. It has changed how I live my life. Who I am as an individual and most definitely the mother I am.

I moved home to Australia in 2007 and began my journey into motherhood.


Clay 2 matching animals


How have you applied Montessori at home? (Big question, I know!)

This is a mammoth question.

Starting with the key to Montessori, I try to “follow the child”.

I observe him. I try to learn as much as I can about his development so I can see where he is at so I can better meet his needs and follow his interests.

I prepare the environment to meet his needs and follow his interests. I act as a link between him and the environment.

I try to sit on my hands and NOT interfere with his efforts.

I actively encourage his growing independence and try very very hard not to do for him, what he can already do for himself!

I act as a role model to him.

I try to limit praise and punishment but instead offer examples, work in collaboration and use positive reinforcement and choice.

I try to be consistent, to offer routine, order and boundaries, to aid his sense of security and trust.   

I look at myself and try to reflect and realize that I am human and not perfect. I am a mother, we are a family and this is his home.

It doesn’t work like that 100% of the time. No matter how little or how great I apply myself and these Montessori principles I can see the benefits in him everyday. Who he is becoming is re-affirming all that I have learnt about Montessori.  


Clay 2 dusting his shelves


Do you have any tips for parents creating Montessori inspired spaces at home?

Be kind to yourself. It is not about being the perfect mother.

Trial and error. Just try something and then observe how your child responds. I used so many different floor beds and I also do this a lot when setting up a new shelf i.e. his kitchen shelf. At first there was too much out there for him and I had to tweak things!

As Cathy (Finlay’s family) said, I think the easiest and one of the most important things to do to aid your child’s development would be to provide a TV free environment for the first 5 years of life. Just take it out of the lounge room, give it away or put it in your room!


Clay 2 camping


Are there any books, websites, blogs that you could recommend?

I have not really been a big blogger but now follow “How We Montessori” and am getting into all the blogs I discover through Kylie.

  1. “Understanding the Human Being” by Dr Montanaro
  2. “Montessori from the start” by Liddard & Jessen
  3. “What’s Going on in There?” By Lise Elliot
  4. “The Absorbent Mind” and “Education and Peace” by Maria Montessori


Where do you find inspiration?

My son, my wife, Maria Montessori and other Montessorians.


Thank you for sharing with us Charlene. Next week I will post an article on Clay's infant environment providing some ideas and inspiration for anyone setting up a nursery or planning to in the future. 


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