Montessori is a method of education which allows learning through self-directed activity and collaborative play. It is based on the notion that a child is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of learning through supportive and organized learning environment.
I came across a mother who believes in the tenets of Montessori education and incorporates them in her everyday life. She believes in raising her kids the Montessori way and so does a lot of activities that promote self-learning. Meet Sulbha Bathwal, a mother of twin boys and a homemaker. She resides in Pune with her husband and kids. She believes that parenting is an art based on 3C’s- Clarity, Connection and Consistency that if mastered can lead to a happy family.
I got a chance to interview Sulbha and know in detail about her style of parenting and how she uses the Montessori approach in the most effective way. Here is what she says-
How do you think Montessori activities can help the parents of twins?
By committing to certain Montessori methods, parents of twins and multiples can avoid doubling (or tripling) their work. I believe raising multiple children the Montessori way not only helps children to get engaged in activities but also make parents’ lives easier in the process. For example: if we change the traditional way of putting babies to bed to the Montessori perspective, we can give babies large safe places to sleep and play. That way they occupy themselves rather than crying out for attention. In the process, we also gain some freedom and independence.
How do you think we can set up a Montessori environment at home? What are the basic rules to follow?
When it comes to setting any furniture in kid’s room, one basic rule should be followed which is that it should be similar to the child’s height. At my place, I prefer having everything in the kid’s room as per their height and so you will find low lying cupboards, shelves and floor setting.
I believe the following could be helpful while setting up a Montessori environment in the house:
1) Kid area – which should include change pad, small chair for dressing, shelf with diapers, comb, brush and laundry bag.
2) Montessori floor bed and change area on floor for an infant
3) Accessible diapering area where cupboard has doors that close.
All these should be easily accessible by the child to explore and learn.
What kind of tasks or activities do you plan for your twins?
I try to involve my kids in everyday activities and usually give them a task based on their interest.
While giving them a task I ensure I do not help them until something is outside their level of capability. For example: sometimes, I give them a task to carry something from one room to another. At times, the thing is too heavy for them to lift and carry and they get stuck in the middle of the task, I do not immediately go and help them. Rather I wait and observe. Before helping, I make sure they if really need help, because I believe children can surprise us. My aim is to help them just enough, never more.
I firmly believe that kids have immense ability and if given the right environment they are sure to experience success. As parents, we must ensure that we create such an environment where they learn by doing things themselves.
As a mother of twins, I find it difficult to give individual attention to each child. How does Montessori method help parents in doing that?
Parents of multiples often feel concerned that they aren’t giving their children enough individual attention. The demands of modern life barely leave enough time for family activities. But exclusive attention is vital to multiples as they develop their individual identities. Often when twins are out in public together, they attract a lot of public attention. Going out on their own gives them a chance to practice their public manners and conversation skills without the shadow of their status as a multiple. In my family, this strategy works wonders on days when our twin boys are at each other’s throats and arguing over everything.
We all want our kids to feel valued and appreciated. But when we have more than one child, it’s natural to devote more time to the one with learning and attention issues. We may assume that our other child knows how much we love him/her. Not getting regular attention from us can affect his self- esteem and personal development.
Children have their own interests and needs. Montessori activities help you to spend time with your children. You become aware of your child’s passions and talents. Your child, in turn, feels understood. When you know your child’s interests and potential strengths, you can plan more activities that support them.
What are your biggest challenges as a mother of twins?
Parenting twins is physically exhausting but as phase passes, it is possible to mitigate some of the early difficulties. For me, the emotional aspect of parenting twins is much more challenging. My husband and I have tried our best to treat our twins equally, and when that was impossible or inappropriate, to at least treat them fairly. However, this is not how the society, people, world looks at things. The world likes to rank and compare things, which can be hurtful and demoralizing for two people who are, in many respects, quite similar.
In many situations where twins play games, and one of the boys win while other loses, it is very difficult to congratulate one and console other at the same time. Despite our best intention as parents, someone is going to get short-changed. Overcoming this has been my biggest challenge as mother of twins.
How do you define your parenting? What is your mantra of parenting twins?
Today there is a glut of information available about parenting. It can be hard to know which way to turn. As a mother, I always think of parenting as an art and not as a challenge because I believe if we consider something as an art we enjoy doing it and take due interest as well but the moment it becomes a challenge we rush in to just finish it in order to get a tick mark.
For me, effective parenting comes down to these three steps.
1. Clarity – While going on a trip we always try to get some knowledge about the location we are heading to, similarly with parenting it is even more important to have a plan–a clear vision, of who you want your child to be and what is essential to you. Keeping your long-term goal in mind, and prioritizing your values, allows you to be clear about your day-to- day decisions.
2. Connection – Once you are clear on your priorities and values, it is time to form a close, warm connection with your child. You need to build connection by listening to your child with interest and empathy and by engaging him in problem solving.
3. Consistency – Even as adults, we like to know what is going on and what is expected of us. It’s quite similar for the child as well. When a child is certain about what will make you happy and what will upset you, she comes to trust your reaction. So being consistent with children in terms of her actions and behaviour is important.
Sulbha’s views, approach and style of parenting using the Montessori methods is very inspiring. She keeps doing a lot of exciting DIY activities to keep her twins engaged. If you want to gain some ideas and learn more about her experience of parenting twins, you can refer to her Facebook page or Instagram.
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words #6. Todays post is based on Day 6’s prompt- ‘Feature a guest – a guest post / an interview’. You can also read my post on Day 5’s prompt- A Letter to God: Thank You For Everything You Have Given Me In Life
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