Wednesday 26 March 2008

to answer some questions.....

I thought it was about time I answered some of the questions I often get asked, either in the comments, emails or real life, so here we go....

Q. How do you do it?
Do what? is what I always want to say, I keep the blog going, sew, craft, do Montessori with Babyebi, help organise our playgroup, make things for the shop. The blog is a good motivator for me, I would be rubbish at keeping a diary but getting feedback and lovely emails from people really keeps me going, getting into the habit of taking photos during the day also helped, it only takes a few minutes to upload them to Flickr and I tend to do it when I am preparing dinner etc.
With BabyEbi we aim to do the 3 hour work period 3 times a week, he is free to work with any of his Montessori stuff at anytime but I specifically set the 3 hours when he can only choose Montessori related work, I feel this helps his concentration and I can focus just on him during that time, I don't multi-tasking when we are studying. When it comes to making things I always have at least one project on the go, usually 3 or 4. It is impossible for me to sit down and complete a project in one sitting so I might do cutting out while Babyebi is finishing his breakfast (he is a really S-L-O-W eater) then a bit of hand sewing when he is playing with his lego, get the sewing machine out when he is eating his evening meal or having afternoon nap, do some painting after he has gone to bed and before hubby gets home. It's not the way I like to work but it is the way that works for me at the moment. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate house work and I can ALWAYS find something more interesting to do! So I tend to 'do' the house top to bottom 2 or 3 times a week, babyEbi 'helps', I am very much in the need of everything having a 'home' it makes keeping the place ship-shape so much easier. We don't really have much in the way of ornaments except for pictures (too much dusting), I am certainly not a neat freak but before bathtime we have a big tidy up, all toys are put away and all my crafty stuff unless I am intending on doing some after he has gone to bed. So, a typical day...
6.30am get up, breakfast, dressed etc., check email/do blog, hang laundry/vacuum & clean, wash breakfast stuff - some of these vary timewise depending on the weather/other chores etc. BabyEbi has NHK TV on, the only real TV he watches to help with his Japanese from 7.30am -9.00am
8.30 - 9.00am start 3 hour cycle, this includes snack time at 10ish and sometimes art or crafts depending on what he wants to do.
If he finishes a bit early and the weather is good we go to the small park to play for an hour before lunch, for some reason the local kids go out to play at 11.30am!
12.30pm lunch, usually something quick and easy, omlette and salad, rice balls and Japanese side dishes, sandwiches...
he usually takes a while to finish so I will do a bit of sewing/crafting/blog surfing...
after lunch he usually plays by himself and I continue to do some 'work'
2.00-4.00pm nap and free time for me.
4.00pm-5.00pm read books, preparing dinner, baking etc. Whatever it is we do it together.
5.00pm ish Babyebi has dinner, I will prepare our dinner if I haven't already done so, often hubby is back late so I will eat first so dinner needs to be something I can either cook in 2 easy sessions such as stir-fry or just reheat like stew.
free play, reading, bring in laundry & put away, talking to my mom via ichat...
7.00pm tidy up and bath
7.30pm bath, books and bed.
then I go in the bath, have dinner unless hubby is planning to get home early then I will hang on for him. Then in the evening I will do something crafty, watch TV etc. I am not a night owl and usually by 10 I am bushed.
The days we don't do the 3 hour cycle we will go to the park (weather permitting) or the play centre and do the shopping, all by bicycle so if it is raining we have to stay in.

Where do you get most of your ideas for lessons?
I did an online course with NAMC (link in the sidebar) and use the albums as guidence, I would have loved to go back to school and study but it wasn't an option either financially or practically. As much as I love Montessori I have found that there are some Montessorians with their heads up their own arse who are down-right snobby when it comes to people who take online courses. I have taught ESL to kids for years and have heaven knows how many classroom hours under my belt and I KNOW the Montessori classroom is very different along with it's method and that nothing can replace classroom experience but some of us just don't have any other choice. I enjoyed the course that I did, my tutor was excellent and I did lots of extra reading to get a better understanding of the method. There is no Montessori school near here and so this is the only way I could give my son the education I believe in. I would have liked to open a Montessori school here but we just can't afford it, so this is the route we are taking.
I have used Meg's (Montessori by Hand) albums that she made available to download plus all the wonderful ideas that other bloggers post about, my favourite blog spots are also in the sidebar.

Are there particular Montessori books you would recommend?
Maria Montessori's own books are the best place to start, I like Tim Seldon's book, How To Raise An Amazing Child for ideas on how to make your home Montessori friendly, The science behind the genius is a fascinating read, a bit heavy going and it was one of the first Montessori books I read but it was enough to convince me that the method worked and why. I also like the Tao of Montessori, it is a bit 'hippyish' for want of a better word but gives good food for thought. All the books mentioned can be found here.

Where can I get nomenclature cards that match the IFIT botany and zoology puzzles
erm, not sure. My IFIT order hasn't arrived yet so I haven't had chance to compare them with the blackline masters that came with the NAMC course, I am hoping they are the same or at least very similar. Have you joined the yahoo group Montessori makers? There are many cards in the files there or try peacefulmannconnects - link in the sidebar.

Where do you get your supplies?
My first port of call is always the ¥100 shop since everywhere else in Japan tends to be quite pricey. I like to keep my eyes peeled for bargains, anything I can recycle into something else I will, I have a cupboard full of 'stuff' that might come in handy someday....

How did you end up in Japan?
I ask myself this almost every day! After college I did a stint of teaching in Italy and caught the travel bug something rotten. I went to uni after Italy then did a year in Jerusalem teaching and working in a small theatre, went back home and tried out for the RAF, didn't get in, saw an ad for teachers in Japan and that was that. Did 2 years up north in Iwate-ken, met hubby to be, we took a year out and travelled round South America then wound up back here. Got married in Cambodia and BabyEbi arrived a couple of years later.....


  1. You got married in Cambodia? Wow!

    Shame you're not over here - the UK needs more great people like you :D

  2. thanks for sharing your typical day here it is the same although we are in france right now and the routine is a bit different. I have one question if I may. Do you keep the TV from 7;30 til 9 so that he can watch what he wants while he is involved with something else?

  3. Thanks Andy!

    Gigi, yes basically. The NHK channel has lots of short programmes, most of them are 5-10 mins long and likes some more than others so he will help unload the dishwasher then when he hears the music to something he likes he will go and watch it. he really likes the singing and dancing now so he will often join in with those then go off and do something else until the next song. He really isn't that interested in the TV but he does ask to watch the animals sometimes - in fact yesterday he demanded to watch angel fish, of course there wasn't any kind of fishy programme on at the time!


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