This fall, our team attended the Montessori Homeschool Summit. We have created a Montessori blog series to highlight our main takeaways from the summit for Adventure Nannies families, nannies, and private educators.
One of our favorite sessions of the summit was on representation in the Montessori environment with Ashley Speed (@ashspeedteaches) and D. Ann Williams (co-founder of Queer Consultants). They shared many creative ways for families to create representation of themselves and others within the classroom. Ashley and D. Ann both shared that it is important for the family and child to be represented within the classroom- think: religious books that the child can identify with, displaying heirlooms like quilts and family and having items that create cultural heritage, like books in a parent’s native language or a flag. This helps the child in building their identity and creates a sense of belonging in their space.
Additionally, families and caregivers should focus on bolstering the representation of groups and backgrounds that do not overlap with the children’s own. During the presentation, Ashley shared that the dolls that her daughter plays with are representative of genders, backgrounds, sizes, skin colors from her child. Other great ways to incorporate cultural representation within the classroom include collecting and purchasing items while traveling and buying books that showcase and educate on the many different ways of life.
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”
― Maria Montessori
Being intentional about what is represented within the environment is so important for children to become accepting and caring adults. Below we’ve shared a list of diverse books and toys provided by the presenters. Thank you, Ashley and D Ann for such an informative presentation. Ashley and D. Ann run Queer Consultants, who’s mission is to educate schools and workspaces on LGBTQIA+ issues to improve the understanding, support, inclusion, and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals already present in those spaces. You can check out their work and get in touch with them at queerconsultants.com or on Ashley’s instagram account (@ashspeedteaches).
Bow Wow Pow Wow by Brenda J. Child Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
First Laugh, Welcome Baby by Rose Ann Tahe Terry Fox
Me by Math Beth Leatherdale and Milan Pavlović *
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith
All The Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimental
Sometimes I Feel Like A Fox by Danielle Daniel
I Am Not A Label by Cerrie Burnell *
Kiss by Kiss/Ocêtôwina: A Counting Book for Families by Richard van Camp
A Kids Book About Disabilities by Kristine Napper
* = These books need to be accompanied by a conversation detailing that folks with disabilities should not be required to ‘overcome’ their disability in order to be valued.
My Family Builders Creatable World Dolls by Mattel
Marvel Education Friends with Diverse Abilities Dolls
Puzzles by PuzzleHuddle
Barbie now has a range of body types, and diverse dolls, including ones in wheelchairs and with vitiligo
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