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Meg McElwee is a designer, author, former Montessori teacher, and Mama to two sweet boys.
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.”
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, answering this question: What type of handwork do you enjoy doing with your children?
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If you’d like two additional ways to enter the giveaway, here’s how:
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.
This giveaway has ended–thanks for entering!