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The Garlic Peeler – Montessori Based Musings


My friend brought her two girls over to our home the other day. V turned three in October and is thriving in a Montessori school. Her younger sister turned one in November and walked at 8.5 months (I wouldn’t write it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes).

We love hanging out with them because not only are they a lot of fun but they are also very precocious young girls. Plus they are both cute as buttons. I can’t tell which sister my 2.5-year-old has the bigger crush on. He tends to give them both a lot of attention. :-)

Montessori Practical Life

After the visit their mother and my dear friend called me and said, “I don’t want you to say anything. Just listen to me for two minutes and say goodbye.” I did as I was told and she proceeded to very eloquently tell me, well, things that we parents don’t hear often enough, kudos to being the parents that we are, how natural and beautiful we are and how refreshing life can be…then we proceeded to talk for thirty minutes.

I needed specifics. She brought up a few specifics that I’ll share with you.


As we sat down at the table for an early dinner before our friends got on the road, I asked my son to grab napkins for us (a natural occurrence for us). So he scurried over to the drawer in which we keep the napkins and grabbed enough to hand around to each of us (INDEPENDENCE). Then I asked each toddler/preschooler which placemat they would like to use (CHOICE).

Then I asked V what she would like to drink. V said milk. So I went into the kitchen and poured enough milk to fill a cup into our mini glass pitcher and brought the pitcher to V. V struggled for a bit trying to pick up and pour with one hand only but she quickly figured out that using two hands allowed her to steady the pitcher and pour the milk more effectively into her cup.


V noticed that W, my 11-month-old, was playing with a silicone garlic peeler (why do we buy toys again?). She meandered over to him and asked, “what is that?” I explained to her the purpose of a garlic peeler.

Then she tried it and continued to work on this piece of garlic for a good 15 minutes. Then we worked on it together (even though I was fairly certain the peel had been long removed). Then, I asked her to pull out the garlic, and voila the peel was gone. I

brought out another clove of garlic WITH the peel to show her the before and after. She was thrilled…and the best part is that she started smelling it and asked what it tastes like. So her mom said, “well, go ahead and take a bite.” Let’s just say she won’t forget that sensory experience!

My main point in writing up this post is not for you to run out and buy a glass pitcher or a garlic peeler or for you to dream up complicated, time sucking activities but quite the opposite: to remind to be present in the moment and simple life lessons (that will teach your child valuable skills and concepts) will present themselves to you.

There are teaching moments all day long but you have to be “there” with your children to recognize them. Don’t get me wrong, I should take head to this piece of advice to myself. I am not perfect, nor am I always present but I try to be. My friend allowed me to reflect on our progress as a parent and child. We’re doing all right and we’re BOTH learning a great deal as we take this journey together.

Sometimes we are so in the “thick of it all” trying to make certain our children are getting everything they need and developing as they should that we forget that sometimes slowing down and simplifying is pretty darn effective.

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