Growing Up Sew Liberated: An Interview (& Giveaway) with Meg McElwee

This giveaway has ended. Thanks for entering!

Meg McElwee is a designer, author, former Montessori teacher, and Mama to two sweet boys.

Her blog, Sew Liberated, and first book by the same name, have become popular go-to spots for crafters looking to blend the traditional with the modern–in both their lifestyles and their handwork.

I’m thrilled that Simple Homeschool is one of the stops on Meg’s tour to celebrate her new book, Growing Up Sew Liberated. This title is full of inspiration, practical sewing instruction for family projects, lovely photos, and comforting advice about creating family rhythm.

I recently had the chance to ask Meg some questions about her new release as well as her educational background. Check out the end of the post to see how you can win a copy of her book!

An Interview with Meg McElwee

1. You are a certified Montessori teacher. Can you give us an overview of what this philosophy of education looks like in the early years?

“The Montessori early childhood classroom (2.5-6 year olds) was designed to be as much like a family home as possible, with multiple ages of children, a working kitchen, and the responsibility that comes with living in a “family” – learning to respect space and boundaries, eating together, and caring for the home environment.

“For the young child at home, the Montessori philosophy boils down to the phrase “follow the child.” Follow the child, not the child’s every whim.

“Pay attention to what your child’s moods and actions are telling you, and make adjustments taking into account what your child’s true needs are, rather than his/her “wants.” Adjustments might be applied to the physical home environment, your daily routines, or your way of responding to your child.”

2. In your lovely book you refer to the importance of creating a rhythm for a young child’s day. Any tips on how to go about doing so?

“Oh goodness, that’s something that I’m struggling with right now! Sometimes it can be so hard to keep a child’s day harmonious when there is so much going on in the background of our adult lives. The biggest thing I try to remember is that a child’s rhythm is a SLOW one. I need to constantly remind myself to slow down and enjoy simple moments with my boys.

“Ideally, our weeks are loosely planned around time in the kitchen, time for quiet indoor play, outdoor play, and the steadfast routines like bedtime. This will look different for every family, but I believe that having a combination of these three things in every day (kitchen, indoor play and outdoor play) is so beneficial for the child.”

“Indoor play might include an art experience one day, bread making the next. I’ve also found it beneficial to have one parent-initiated/led activity a day, which provides you a built-in time to connect to your child and allows you to informally guide their explorations of the world. For example, we made bird cookies last week. Another day we might paint with different bird feathers instead of brushes. It’s a fun way to inject a bit of creativity into your daily planning!

“To create a workable rhythm for your family, you need to take time to sit down with pen and paper and write down all of the ideas of routines, daily/weekly activities, and traditions that appeal to you. I love to check the online magazine Rhythm of the Home for ideas. This will be your “wish list.”

“There’s no way you’ll be able to work everything into your family’s life, and that’s ok! Go over your list and weed out anything that appeals to you but not your child(ren). Then cross off ideas that are lovely, but just don’t fit into your schedule right now.

“Come up with a workable list, the smaller the better, for your family, then start implementing ideas little by little.”

3. What is the most important thing mothers of young children can do to prepare their children to excel academically later?

“Instill a sense of wonder in your child. Marvel at the curled tongue of a butterfly together. Touch the squishy wool of a sheep and imagine what kind of sweater it could make. Gaze into the flame of a candle in silence.

“We all know to read to our children, but so often the focus on academic success is slanted toward giving our children the tools required for learning rather than instilling a sense of wonder in the world which will provide him with a lifelong motivation to learn. Especially in the younger years, a child needs to be given every chance to allow his or her curiosity to blossom.”

4. How important is handwork in a child’s life? How can a non-sewing mom or dad find a way to still integrate some of your book’s principles into their days?

“Creativity is in the process, not the product! I often don’t have the time to sit down and sew in front of my boys, but I might have the opportunity to fill my cupped hands with water and throw said water up into the air on a hot summer day, excited about how the gravity pulls the beads of water right back down to the earth.

“If you don’t sew, you might bake. If you don’t bake, you might draw. If you don’t draw, you might build. Every person has something that he or she enjoys doing that involves the hands.

“As Maria Montessori said, “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.” Handwork is the way that we humans leave our marks on the world, and handwork isn’t limited to fiber arts.

“Do what you love with your child. It’s that simple.”

Giveaway

Meg’s publisher, Interweave Press, would like to give two Simple Homeschool readers a copy of Growing Up Sew Liberated!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, answering this question: What type of handwork do you enjoy doing with your children?

If you’re reading this in an email, you must come over to the blog to comment.

If you’d like two additional ways to enter the giveaway, here’s how:

Additional Entries

1. Mention this giveaway on Twitter, including @simpleschool, @sewliberated, and the URL of this post — http://bit.ly/kMYuQw . Then come back and leave an additional comment here, telling me about your tweet.

2. ‘Like’ Simple Homeschool on Facebook and Sew Liberated on Facebook. Then come back here again and leave a comment, telling me you did so.

This giveaway has ended–thanks for entering!

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. My boys and I love to sew together and they have all attempted knitting. My youngest (8) is the most interested. They all love building too.

  2. I like to sew with my children.

  3. My baby is only six months old, but I like to sit her in my lap at our keyboard and play music for her. I also let her bang the keys with her fingers. We have a great time!

  4. I love to do needlework with my kids. Simple sewing, knitting, weaving. But their favorite thing us cooking!

  5. My little one just turned 1 and it is so fun to see each day how he is able to do a little more…hand me laundry to be folded, get this spoon out of his drawer at mealtime, etc.

  6. Hi, thanks for the giveaway! My daughter and I are learning to sew together!

  7. We love Playdough time together!

  8. nopinkhere says:

    For my almost 2yo daughter, it’s coloring/drawing. She often won’t do it unless I’m drawing too.
    For my 5yo son it’s cooking. We measure, stir, sniff, taste, feel. Great stuff!

  9. Ixel Rus says:

    I have two boys ( 3 and 1 year old) and we love to cover our dining room floor with butcher paper and get our hands and fingers dirty with “edible” paint in bright colors!!

  10. I love to bake with my girls!

  11. Our favorite hand activity is drawing and coloring. My girls are so inspired to do this that they will fall back on it themselves on their own without prompting or guidance. It is so wonderful to see them express themselves through pictures and to see their skills with handling drawing instruments and achieving the look they want improve over time. This is actually an activity that they enjoy doing with my husband (who is an artist).

  12. My girls and I would hand sew and crochet. My granddaughter and I use playdough and paint to create beautiful art. Thank you for the opportunity.

  13. My three year old is becoming an expert cloth napkin folder, and my two year old loves to watch and help me bake. Yesterday we all had a blast weeding the garden together!

  14. knitting and gardening

  15. Jessica says:

    Oh, I would love to win this book. In our family we love to cook and bake together.

  16. Casie E says:

    I love to sit down and create art with my boys (1 and 3). Its so fun to watch them explore the materials and create something.

  17. Casie E says:

    I “like” both of you on Facebook. :)

  18. marianne says:

    So far, we like doing papercraft…cutting, glue, coloring, etc. I would love a copy of Meg’s book!

  19. This book looks awesome!

  20. jae jun says:

    for now my daughter likes to cut and drawing, but I would love to sew with my daughter when she gets older

  21. We like doing paper crafts,clay and baking.

  22. erica m. says:

    my children and i love to needlefelt! my 2 year old will wetfelt and stick the wool onto things, my 3 year old is just starting to use the needle

  23. My 4 year old and I love to knit side-by-side.

  24. We love to bake, take photos, draw together. Experience nature. Lots of stuff! This book looks great!

  25. I am absolutely smitten with this book!!
    We spend lots of time baking, exploring and making art from recyclables!

  26. Deb Price says:

    I love Meg’s book! What my daughter’s and I love to do is bake, swe and cross -stitch. My girls are very spread out in ages, but I have always had them involved in the workings of the home from a young age. I have homeschooled the last 3 girls and wish I would have homeschooled the first two. It is a wonderful experience to teach your children! My daughter Laura and I have enjoyed Meg’s first book and cannot wait for this new one to come into our house!

  27. Deb Price says:

    I have just been to my Facebook and have officially put ‘like’ for both of you!

  28. Julie W says:

    I often bake homemade bread with our boys. They both love doing crafts, especially anything that involves cutting and gluing!

  29. My step-daughter and I do a good amount of handwork. Lately her favorite is kneading bread. There is no small loaf just for her though, she wants the whole thing and to really get messy.

  30. While he’s only 2.5, I’m finding that Patrick loves to work in the kitchen with me. He helps by adding ingredients and working the tools of the kitchen all whilst pushing his little stool around to his fancy!
    Caroline’s latest post: Cupie Doll

  31. Over Memorial Day weekend my dad got my daughter to help with a project of weaving rope through the wooden frame of a chaise long after it had been repainted. I thought it might be a little to advanced for her, but with his help she really got the hang of it and was very proud of her work. Now I can’t wait to do more simple weaving projects with her!

  32. Andrea S. says:

    My daughter and I cook together and have started some rudimentary sewing projects. This book looks awesome! I’d love to try out new craft projects.

  33. Andrea S. says:

    I liked Simple Homeschool and Sew Liberated on Facebook too!

  34. We sew, cook, crochet, build with rocks and work in the garden.

  35. Deanna K says:

    would love a copy of the book!
    thanks!

  36. Heather says:

    I’ve been teaching my kids to knit, and my husband gardens with them.

  37. I just taught my 6 year old son how to knit. He picked it up so quickly. I love that we can sit quietly, side-by-side with our needles click clicking away.

  38. I just “Liked” Sew Liberated on my Facebook page : )

  39. patricia says:

    My daughter is only 21 months, but we enjoy playing with my sewing supplies together – the bag of scraps and the spools of thread are her favorites right now, although the tape measure has been a big hit in the past.

  40. I like to sew, embroider, knit and make art with my 2 yo son. I love sew Liberated and have the first book already.

  41. I love to bake and cook and I’m trying to figure out ways to involve my children in this.

  42. Trish Widell says:

    I get my son involved with the garden & flowers. We also like to make crafts out of ordinary objects that might otherwise end up in the trash.

  43. My daughter and I muck about in the garden together. I love to see her pick peas and beans and eat them right off the vine, knowing that she helped them to grow!

  44. My daughter is 9mo, and we love tapping different surfaces in different rhythms, to see what sounds they make!

  45. i love to paint with my kids and now my oldest loves to watch me sew and helps me in the garden

  46. i liked you both on facebook

  47. Jessica says:

    My favorite type of handwork to do with children is embroidery. I think it’s because I was taught embroidery at a Montessori school at such a young age. In fact, my mom saved ALL of my old pieces and made them into a quilt, which she gave to me at my graduation (as a Montessori teacher!) I hope to do something similar with my own children one day.

  48. Jessica says:

    I “like” (love, actually!) sewliberated on facebook!

  49. Holly Hyde says:

    My boys and I love working out in the garden together. They are four-year-old twins and it cracks me up how that instead of pointing to a plant and saying, “flower” they say “Shasta Daisy, etc.” This books looks fabulous!

  50. I wish that I had more time to sew (*sigh*). But the good news is that my boys are all interested in learning, so I may have some sewing partners in the future!


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