When my two children were growing up, I was quite a hands-off parent. My attitude was to let them do their own thing and learn about their environment and I’d be there if they needed me.
My daughter, Adèle, was an early crawler – she was crawling at around six months – and I remember watching her crawl across the living room floor towards the kitchen. Between the two rooms there was a small step down and at first Adèle would stop at the step. Then she would crawl to the step and attempt to go down it before crawling back again. Eventually, as Adèle’s curiosity and confidence grew, she finally crawled down the step into the kitchen.
It was just a small step and I knew it wasn’t dangerous, but of course I stood watching to make sure she was OK. And she was. It was so fascinating to watch Adèle on her journey from the living room to the unchartered territory of the kitchen. I could literally see her mind working out how to get down that step. Interestingly, when other parents brought their children round to the house they all intervened to stop their kids crawling down the step.
As long as my children were safe, I felt it was important to let them explore and find out about the world in their own way. In that respect, I’m aligned to the Montessori way of teaching – allowing children the freedom to develop and to learn by ‘doing’ rather than being instructed how to do something.
I didn’t send my children to Montessori schools, but I like many of the values that are set out in their teaching approach – so much so that elements of the Montessori philosophy run through my designs. Take, for example, the Tidy Books bookcase. Its front-facing shelves mean children can easily see their books and so can independently choose the one they want to read. And with the bookcase’s 3D alphabet, kids can play and learn in their own time. All my Tidy Books designs work in a similar way to give children their own personal environment to work things out for themselves.
While I design everything with children in mind, I don’t make nursery-style furniture that looks out of place in the home. The beauty of Tidy Books products is that they are also created to blend seamlessly into your living space. That’s great news for parents who, like me, hate too much clutter. And for your kids, it means opening up their world of independence way beyond their bedroom.
* I’d love to know what you do to help your child foster their independence. Do drop me a line and share your experiences.