Simone Davies on Setting Up Your Home to Support Your Child’s Growth

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​In this episode of Tilt Parenting, I bring back to the show Simone Davies, a Montessori teacher and parent educator who runs a Montessori playgroup in Amsterdam for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers up to four years old. Through her online business, The Montessori Notebook, Simone focuses on helping parents learn how to bring Montessori into their home.

Today Simone and I are talking about the “spaces” in our home—specifically how we can best design and set them up to support our differently-wired kids. I’ve watched as Simone developed her virtual e-course, Setting Up Your Home Montessori Style, and I was struck by how the approach she talks about in her course directly relates to the things we as parents can do to support our kids in developing those crucial executive functioning skills, like task initiation, time management, planning, and organizing, as well as fostering independence. In this episode, we’ll talk about how we can set up our homes—our kitchen, bedroom, shoes and coat area, homework space—to support our children in fostering these skills.


About Simone Davies

Simone Davies is an experienced AMI Montessori teacher who holds parent-toddler classes in Amsterdam. Families who come to her classes learn how to bring calm back into their homes by applying Montessori principles to their daily life. Simone shares her expertise with families around the world through her popular blog and online courses available on The Montessori Notebook.

Simone is also the author of The Montessori Toddler, a comprehensive guide to raising your toddler in a Montessori way. It includes Montessori activities, how to set up your home, and how to encourage cooperation from your children, and The Montessori Baby.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • How to set up the shoes and coat area to help kids “get out the door” with success and independence
  • How making checklists for our kids can instill in them a sense of responsibility while also easing transitions
  • What parents who aren’t naturally organized can support themselves
  • The gifts of decluttering and clearing our space
  • The importance of making a homework space inviting and distraction-free
  • Tips for setting up spaces to foster more independence in children
  • Why making things attractive, cozy, and comfortable benefits our kids


Resources mentioned for supporting children’s growth at home


Episode Transcript

Simone Davies  00:00

The easier you make it then the more success you’re going to have. So also, the more success you have, the less nagging you have to do and the more independent the children are becoming. So we’re basically using the environment to take some of our workload off because we’re busy enough as we are, there’s enough going on so we always look to the environment, how it can do some of our work for us.

Debbie Reber  00:17

Well, welcome to the Tilt Parenting podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing, and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber and today I’m bringing back to the podcast, Simone Davis, a Montessori teacher, and parent educator who runs a Montessori playgroup in Amsterdam for babies, toddlers and preschoolers up to four years old. She’s also the founder of the Montessori Notebook featuring free articles, downloads, and videos about how to bring more Montessori into your home. And incidentally, Simone also happens to be a dear friend and regular work, buddy, and we meet up weekly to co-work over coffee. So I know she has a lot of great things to share with our community. I wanted to bring Simone back on the show today to talk about our spaces. Not metaphorically, but literally the spaces in our home and how we can best design and set them up to support our differently wired kids. I’ve watched as Simone developed her virtual e-course, Setting Up Your Home Montessori Style. And I was struck by how the approach she talks about in her course directly relates to the things we can do in supporting our kid’s development of those crucial executive functioning skills, like task initiation and time management and planning and organizing, as well as fostering independence. So that’s what we’re going to get into today, how to set up your home, your kitchen, the shoes and coat area, the bedroom a homework space to support your child in fostering these skills. I also have a special ask for you this week. As we’re nearing our one-year anniversary of the podcast, I’ve set a goal of having 50 ratings on iTunes. We are nearly at 40 right now. So still a great showing, but I would love to hit that 50 mark by our anniversary next month. So if you want to help me it is super simple. Here’s what you do, just go to the tilt parenting podcast page on iTunes. And at the top, click on ratings and reviews, you can then leave a rating with just the click of a button. And if you’re feeling super ambitious, and you want to leave a review, by all means, go for it. Thank you so much for considering and helping us reach this goal. And now let’s get on with the show.

Debbie Reber  02:34

Hey, Simone, welcome back to the show.

Simone Davies  02:37

Hi Debbie. Thanks for having me again.

Debbie Reber  02:40

So for listeners, you may remember Simone as being one of my very first guests on the podcast, I think it was episode five. And we had a conversation about strategies for staying calm and difficult situations. And because we both live in Amsterdam; we recorded that episode in my apartment. But today we decided to escape. So we’re escaping across town, we’re trying to get a little better audio quality. So hope that works out. As I said in my introduction, you are a Montessori educator and because we’re work buddies, I get to have a close up, look at all the great material you’re creating, especially surrounding designing spaces and your program that you run, Setting Up Your Home Montessori Style. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today in some ways, but before we get into that, would you mind just taking a minute to tell listeners a little bit more about who you are, both personally and professionally. And as part of that, tell us a little bit about why you’re so passionate about the concept of designing spaces?

Simone Davies  03:43

Absolutely. So I live in Amsterdam, and I run Montessori classes for parents and kids. I have two kids, myself, who are now teenagers, they’re 16 and 14. And I came to the Montessori work when I was looking for a school for my kids and I was like idealistic and wanted them to love learning. And then I decided to become a Montessori teacher myself. And the reason I’m so passionate about setting up spaces is because as a Montessori teacher, we look at our environment as almost as a second teacher, we prepare our classrooms to help with how the children are going to learn. It’s a three-way triangle. It’s not just me standing in front of a classroom delivering information kids instead, it’s a very dynamic triangle between me and the child, or the environment and the child and then me setting up the environment to facilitate that whole process. So that’s where my passion comes from.

Debbie Reber  04:38

I had never heard of that concept before the of the environment being the second teacher or that triangle. That makes sense. It’s so much it’s clear to me in terms of what you do.

Simone Davies  04:49

Yeah, exactly. And then Montessori is now considered more a way of life and how we can actually use those ideas at home. So I help parents apply the same principles that I was into my classroom into how they could set up at home so that their children maybe can be more independent or so they can be more order where everything else is chaotic or to give kids a feeling of safety and security where everything else can fluctuate in daily life. And also, I just love how it helps encourage kids to be involved in our daily life, I think that sometimes it’s almost switched, where kids get to sit on the couch or play, you know, all day, every day. And actually, we forget to just include them in normal life, like preparing meals, or putting away their washing and all those kinds of things. So we can definitely set up the home to facilitate title that.

Debbie Reber  05:38

Well, that’s excellent. One of the big reasons and you and I have talked about this that I wanted to have you on the show is because I mean, I often see a connection between what you’re doing and what I think parents raising differently wired kids could use in terms of information and insights, and strategies that will help them with their definitely wired kids. And I see such a connection surrounding the idea of executive functioning. So and we’ve done shows on executive functioning before. And it’s really, there’s so many pieces of executive functioning that differently wired kids, on some level often have deficits in. So it could be organizing and planning, it could be time management for a lot of kids. It’s like task initiation, getting started with something for others that might be following things in sequence. And so there’s so much of the work that you do that I see could benefit our parents and help them support their kid’s development of those executive functioning skills. So just for listeners, that’s where I see this all kind of fitting together. So where do we start? Like we, there’s so many kinds of different spaces we could talk about, perhaps we should start with getting out the door. That seems to be a tricky time for a lot of parents, especially with kids who maybe have ADHD or other things that where they space out or they get distracted really easily. So you’re running late for school or for some appointment, and you think that they’re putting on their shoes. And really, they’re sitting there reading or taking apart a pencil a mechanical pencil or doing something completely different. So let’s talk about that particular transition getting out the door, what ideas do you have? Or what do you see that parents could do in that space or to support their kids learning some strategies around how to get out the door?

Simone Davies  07:34

Yeah, I think it’s really actually super simple, it’s often we don’t have the same place where we take off our shoes, sometimes we kick them off from the kitchen, and sometimes we kick them off in the hallway. And if we just actually set up our hallway, that there’s a spot where a basket maybe where they can throw their shoes, and if you have hooks where they can hang up their coat and maybe their bag, then it actually just helps because they get used to Okay, mom said I need to put my shoes on, it’s actually so easy, because my shoes are already where I left them. And when you do this routine, day after day, it becomes ingrained and helps them it’s one less thing they have to think about in that series of things that they’re going to get distracted with along the way. So super easy, but it might even be having a chair so that there’s actually a chair to focus them I’m sitting on the chair, this is the chair that I always put my shoes on. And that will help me get out the door. So it’s really breaking it down and keeping it really easy. But also just making the space there really clutter free and inviting, so that they don’t get distracted by the things that shouldn’t be kicking around there. Because if there’s a ball over the front door, then it might be like, oh, let’s play ball now or so. I think that just keeping it really simple and beautiful as they come in would really help kids stay on task in that area.

Debbie Reber  08:48

So I realize as you’re saying that that I actually did. Finally now and Asher’s 12 Well now 13th year of existence, I finally made that connection. And I found a little basket to put in our or our closet hallway just for hats, and gloves. You know, I know that seems like a dud, Debbie. But it was so breakthrough for me because I had a really big basket before that it was kind of slipped in and you had to pull it out and dig through all these mismatched mittens and things. And I finally just made this kind of really small thing. You don’t have to pull it out. It’s on a shelf. It only has like the pair of gloves for each of us and the hat were wearing, and it just goes back and you take it out. It’s super simple. But I mean, I guess in some ways, these are simple concepts, but it’s a matter of taking the time to create them.

Simone Davies  09:43

Definitely. And maybe each person in the house if there’s a few kids could have their own basket so that they can I mean, having to, you know, get distracted by someone else’s things as well. I mean, even if there’s a child who has trouble getting out the door, I wouldn’t have a checklist for everything. But they might need to check a door to see oh, do they have everything they need for school? Or do they have their gym bag on Monday and run through that list that can also help them keep on task? Definitely. Yeah, it’s really simple. So so overlooked.

Debbie Reber  10:16

So see more about this idea of a checklist? Is that something that you put up in on the wall? And that in this space where kids are getting ready? How does that work? Exactly?

Simone Davies  10:26

Yeah, well, first of all, I would definitely get the child involved in making this checklist. So like discussing with them, oh, at the moment, we’re really struggling to get out the door, we’re finding it really easy to get distracted. So let’s make a checklist of all the things that we need to do. So what is there, and we can make a list with them, or the shoes and their hat and their coat and all the things that they need or their bag and or certain days of the week that they need to take something. And then you can put together a checklist if the child doesn’t read yet, you can also just make a simple picture an extra word, for example, a picture of a shoe next to the word shoe. And then they can order what would be the most useful way to put it together. And then you can hang it in the hallway, wherever you usually get ready to go. Some kids like to actually check off each of these or other times, they just like to point to it. But what I also really find handy about the checklist is that it stops you having to nag the kids because you can just say oh, what does it say we need to do next on the list. And then you can use the list as the thing that’s giving the instruction as opposed to you having to say, Come on, I said issues now. Okay, now used to go off and having to give all those instructions that can just overwhelm them. So the checklist is really useful for that. The other thing to keep in mind is that they might need some help to order how they put these things on. So I remember when my children were younger, they’d go and put their mittens on and then they’re trying to get their coat on and have a mitten is going to block the coat going on. So we developed this system where we put the mittens at the bottom, and then the coat and then the scarf. And all of it was in order of how they would need to put it on. And so after a whole season of practicing that the next season, we didn’t need to go through this process. We’re basically scaffolding skills and make it easier and giving them chances to be successful as opposed to having to say, Okay, let’s start again. And that kind of thing.

Debbie Reber  12:13

Yeah, that’s a great idea. It’s funny as you say that Asher has created his own order for putting things on and he right now as we’re recording this, it’s incredibly cold in Amsterdam right now. And the gloves have to go on before the coat on because he likes to tuck his sleeves into the glove, and then he be and that’s hard to do to keep to put on a glove while holding on to the edge of your sleeve, then he needs to put the whole thing inside. It’s a very complicated, I’m just saying. So maybe finding out what you know, because some of our kids with sensory issues might have specific thing ways that they need to do it. So working with them to come up with that order. Definitely. Yeah. The other thing that I just wanted to circle back to what you just said, is that idea of the checklist, that it’s something that they can do, because I think so many of us find ourselves in that position of nagging, or after the fact right being outside and why didn’t you remind me? Why didn’t you tell me to you know, I needed my gloves? Why didn’t you tell me, you know, it was going to be raining, and I should have had a hood on. And for many of us, we want to be instilling in our kids this sense of responsibility, like you’re responsible for getting yourself ready. And so when you have that checklist to your you’re building that muscle of them taking responsibility for what they need, and you’re kind of out of the equation. You can, of course, as you said, I like the idea of scaffolding, you know, help them or give them reminders as they’re first developing the skill, but then ultimately, they can start to be fully responsible for making sure they have what they need.

Simone Davies  13:53

Yeah, definitely. I think that what you say about responsibility and scaffolding skills comes a lot into a Montessori approach at home. Yeah, definitely.

Debbie Reber  14:02

And you also mentioned the idea of different days of the week having a different checklist. So would that be kind of a separate thing, like maybe having a calendar in that space as well?

Simone Davies  14:12

It depends on how busy the week is and how old the child is. So for a younger child, you need to keep it super simple. And it might just be that it’s a long side, and you can mark say, oh, yeah, remember, this is Monday, and what else do we need on Monday? And it comes on the same list or a child who can manage a calendar as well then because i Hey, shall we just check the calendar to see if there’s anything that we need to take today? So both could work? Definitely.

Debbie Reber  14:36

Okay. Are there any other tips for that particular area? Or should we move to another part of the house?

Simone Davies  14:42

I think let’s move on to another area. Yeah. What else do you want to know? I

Debbie Reber  14:45

feel like we’re on a home hunters tour right now. Let’s talk about the bedroom. So and you know, same as getting out the door. There’s getting dressed, you know, just that very simple act of getting dressed, keeping our My room somewhat organized. I mean, I think that something that I’m really working on right now is helping Asher kind of be in more responsible for his space. But what ideas do you have about a child’s bedroom? Like, what would be your expectation of the kinds of things they should be doing on their own? And how can we support that,

Simone Davies  15:20

There’s definitely lots of things that they could do. And it depends, again, on the age of the child, but I think something like making their bed can be very easy for a young child, because you can maybe take off all the extra sheets and blankets and just have a doobie that you pull up at the end. And that’s they’re making their beds. So you’re already scaffolding the skill of taking care of their room and that kind of thing. So that would be one thing that I would expect that they could do. And that’s a one-step activity. So it’s really good for executive function, because it just is just building and building muscles basically, on taking care of their space, then taking care of their clothes is one thing that you can gradually build up as well, which might mean that you need to organize a cupboard so that they know where everything belongs. And once you finish the washing, that they would start taking responsibility for putting that in the right places, we have a set day of the week when that happens, that gives our kids a point of reference. So they know that it always happens on Monday that their clothes are expected to go away without overwhelming them every day and randomly. So they kind of like the predictability. And I think that kids who are differently wired would also kind of like to know that that’s going to happen as well. For younger kids, sometimes having labels onto drawers like the T shirts are in here. And these visual cues can actually also really help because the easier you make it then the more success they’re going to have. So also, the more success you have, the less nagging you have to do and the more independent the children are becoming. So we’re basically using the environment to take some of our workload off, because we’re busy enough as we are, there’s enough going on. So we always look to the environment, how it can do some of our work for us. Yeah. So that’s another area of the bedroom is like the wardrobe. And then just like, keep it really super simple for clothes that are dirty. So have a laundry basket, whether we just have one in our bathroom, but some people have a hamper in the bedroom. And I would expect that children will also be able to start to learn to put their things back on the floor. And we always do it really positively. Like instead of saying don’t leave things on the floor, we’d say, oh, these clothes go in the basket if they’re dirty. And they also can learn consequences eventually, because if they don’t put their clothes in the wash, then they don’t have their favorite trousers ready again, you know, for the next day. So that’s something to build up to as they get older as well.

Debbie Reber  17:31

Definitely, yes, I have a child who likes to wear a different pair of pants, like he wears pajamas once and then they’re in the hamper, or perhaps on the floor. So by the end of the week, I’m like sorry, dude, pajamas are not a once a day like one wearing and in the wash kind of thing. So if you want to have pajamas, at the end of the week, you got to fold them and put them away after you know, you wear them once or twice. But I also that’s for me, again, I don’t know, all kids are on different timelines. So maybe you know, we’re late to the game. But I am starting to do what you suggest. Right now in terms of you know, I’ll do the wash. If the clothes aren’t ready for me to wash, I won’t wash them. Or if they’re not turned right side out, I won’t wash them. So if he wants his cozy clothes, then he he’ll do that. And then once I wash them and fold them, I’m now putting them on his he has a bunk bed. So on his bottom bunk, which he doesn’t sleep on, I’ll leave them there. And it’s his responsibility to put them away. And He’s happily doing that. So I’ve kind of taking baby steps again that scaffolding and getting him maybe trained to do those things. But let me ask you a question about the role of us as parents and all this. So I am a super organized person, my mom is still in shock that I turned out this way, because I wasn’t when I was a kid. But I really like structure and organization, and everything has its place. But I know that that’s not the case for a lot of parents. And so how can parents’ kind of start reinforcing these skills in their kids? If it’s something that they struggle with as well? Do you do work with parents in that way? Or what thoughts do you have on that?

Simone Davies  19:14

I think that these kinds of parents, it probably doesn’t come naturally for them to always put their socks in the same place to set up that entrance hole that we talked about that it would be quite difficult. So I would then get them to enlist a friend, someone who is super organized, you can just come in and help them get it set up. Because once it’s set up, it’s not brain science is not difficult. And they might just need them to come and check on them in six months to check that everything’s fine is still running as normal. But yeah, I mean, basically, maybe you could even if we’re an older child say oh, let’s help each other because you know that I also struggle with putting my things back and you can help me remind me if I’m getting it wrong, and then you’re kind of like playing along with them and making a little bit of a game of it as well. Or you can get people to come in and help you declutter and to help you set up your spaces and things like that if you’re fine. thing that you’re also really struggling with it just might be a one-off thing. One thing we haven’t really talked about is actually getting rid of a whole lot of stuff out of your house anyway, because I find that with, with good intentions, like we receive presents from people, and we have extra clothing that we’re not really using. And so I think it’s really important to just have a look at our spaces and get rid of some things so that it doesn’t mean like, it’s really hard for a child to pack away their clothes, if not everything fits in the drawer, because they’re trying to shove it all in. So actually, they need five t shirts, and they will get washed. They don’t need to have 10-20 T shirts, and they’re just struggle with. Yeah.

Debbie Reber  20:39

So really, you’re talking about Marie Kondo in your house?

Simone Davies  20:43

Quite possibly, yes, I actually am, I did it myself a couple of years ago. And I feel like there’s a weight lifted from it, I do, instead of having all these extra clutters around, you really just keep things that you love, or that are useful. And the rest, you can say thank you for the joy you brought, it might be a gift that when I received this, and then you can let it go into it. She doesn’t even have a chapter on how to recycle things or anything like this, because she just wants you to add a point get rid of stuff. And then you know, when it’s a smaller amount when you’re sorting through things, then that’s totally possible to donate. But sometimes we’re so overwhelmed by how I am going to get rid of these things. So sometimes you just have to let go and say thank you to those things. That really makes a big difference. Yeah,

Debbie Reber  21:26

I have to confess I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book. But I feel like I kind of live that lifestyle. I am a big perjure. And I am constantly like getting rid of things because I can’t stand clutter. And I am a big believer in keeping things simple. And I think that’s a lot of what we’re talking about. Like even you know, you are mentioning, having just a duvet and a pillow that is your right, it’s a one-step like pull up the day, stick the pillow on boom bed made. And I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind that there are lots of opportunities to really simplify things so that our kids can be developing these skills and learning these habits. Pretty painlessly, right? And sometimes maybe we get caught up as parents or as adults and thinking that things have to be x,y and z, right? Well, a bed has to have this sheet and a top sheet, and a blanket and you know all these things. But maybe if we look at our environment through our child’s eyes and think about how can we simplify in general, we might come up with some creative ideas.

Simone Davies  22:33

Definitely. I mean, also in the bedroom space, there may be toys, it depends how your house is set up. If you have a smaller living room, then sometimes toys are located in the bedroom. And that then requires a lot of organization so that it’s still a peaceful place at nighttime when they go to bed. So it would mean actually maybe having some low shelves where you have just a few activities that the children are really enjoying at the moment and the rest you can put into storage. And we always use a Montessori lots of baskets and trays where you have one basket per activity. And it just means that it helps the child take responsibility for their things because they have everything that they need at the ready. It’s easy for them to pack away because it goes in a certain spot. And so everything in its place is kind of like a Montessori slogan for when you’re tidying things up around your house, so that the children can have success. And I even find with older kids, I need to go in there once a month, because stuff builds up and they don’t really know where to put stuff anymore. And it starts to accumulate. Yeah, so keeping control of the toys is a big thing.

Debbie Reber  23:33

Do you think that kids should kind of tidy up their rooms before they go to bed? I mean, as you as you were saying that I was thinking, yeah, a lot of our kids have sensory processing issues, and you know, are very connected to the energy and their space or their environment. So in some ways, it seems like that would be a really important part of a day is, especially if they do have toys and things in the bedroom is making sure that they’re kind of out of sight at night. Yeah, I

Simone Davies  24:04

Definitely think so. I think that maybe even like even if you have open shelves that you might even need to place a curtain that comes down at night, if they’re really, you know, being stimulated by those things and finding it hard to switch off. So that’s definitely something to think about. And we would start really young with kids in Montessori with taking responsibility for their things and packing things away. And when we talked about putting clothes into a laundry basket, if you start with a young like, oh, I’ll carry a t shirt and you carry your trousers, then you start doing it together, it becomes very normalized very quickly. And you don’t have to, it’s much harder to teach an eight-year-old to put their clothes into the laundry because they’re like, oh, you do it and they get that kind of attitude where if they’ve just always done it, they might be in a dinner time taking their plate to the kitchen. If you’ve always done that from when they’re a little toddler, then they can just build that and it’s great for their executive functioning to be like taking these steps or a younger child would just take it to the kitchen and all the time. Add would be able to put it into the dishwasher. Other children can help with a washing up. And then you can keep building skills like adding drawing up to that list of activities that they’re going to be doing so that you continue again to scaffold the skills and grow that executive functioning.

Debbie Reber  25:15

So the younger we can start this stuff, the better.

Simone Davies  25:17

Definitely, yes, yes.

Debbie Reber  25:20

Well, you just mentioned the kitchen. And that is a space I wanted to talk with you about for my Tilt community who reads my blogs, they know that we are implement, or my son is implementing what he’s calling the better breakfast initiative right now, which I am fully supportive of where he is working on creating his own healthy breakfast and really wants to be responsible for cooking all of them. So we’re doing a lot of work around the kitchen. So you talked about kind of getting them our kids like accustomed to bringing things in maybe putting them in the dishwasher and you know, kind of playing these bigger roles. What other thoughts do you have about the idea of, you know, maybe cooking or doing things in the kitchen, that’s such a great space.

Simone Davies  26:03

Yeah. So you can definitely think about having things download so that the kids can access them. So when people come into our house, they go to open the cupboard, a pie to get a cup, but actually everything in our house is down low, because little kids can’t reach up high, and even a six-year-old kid can’t reach to the back of the top shelf. And so we have plates and glasses and bowls and things that they’ll need for make their snacks and breakfast and things down low. That also means I mean, I wouldn’t be expecting them to cook independently until they’re older, but you can get definitely give them supervision and start off. I love baking with kids. And so when they’re younger, you measure out all the ingredients and they take turns to the add ingredients. And then you can mix together. And then they learn the kinds of recipes that you cook. And they can start to do multi step activities. So this is a common theme. In all of these household tasks. They’re brilliant for kids who are differently wired because they need to practice these skills. And around the home, there’s so much opportunity for it. So definitely preparing breakfast can be really easy, you could put a small container with some cereal in it and a scoop and then they can just scoop out one scoop of cereal and then have a small jug with milk in it so that they just have to manage a small amount of milk. And then for younger kids, we have cloths at the ready like a hand mitt, because there’s always going to be spills. And then you don’t have to like to freak out every time something spills. It’s just like, oh, there’s a cloth, you can wipe it up. And it’s no big deal. So it’s definitely about thinking ahead, like how can I get my child’s success to do these things, and they get so pleased with themselves from like, oh, I made my breakfast today. I mean, Asher must have been really chuffed to them. First time he started that

Debbie Reber  27:46

He still is he made Dutch baby pancakes this morning. And best pancake has ever had hands down. He said very happy with the outcome of that. So I’m all for it.

Simone Davies  27:56

Yeah, it’s really great for them to build this confidence. Also, when kids can’t quite reach the bench to make their breakfast and things like that. And you can have a small stepladder. There’s also learning towels and things like that to get young kids who are involved in cooking. So they can you think of age-appropriate activities for them. So a young child might just start tearing letters off for a kid who’s never had any experience working in the kitchen, give them something easy like that they’re washing the salad, and those kinds of things. And then they can build up to slicing with a not sharp knife and like something like a banana only needs a butter knife to cut it. And then once they master that, then you could move on to cutting some cucumber, and then moving up to cutting carrot and showing them how we use knives and all these kinds of things. So it’s always with supervision. And then yeah, they start to learn all of the skills in the kitchen themselves. So there’s definitely even as simple as having access to water during the day, a glass and a jug so that they can help themselves. It’s so easy, but we forget, and we’re always doing it for them and missing that opportunity for them to take on that responsibility. And yeah, look after themselves.

Debbie Reber  29:08

Yeah, it is. I think that especially for a lot of us, I know that independence piece. And you know, not just differently wired kids, by the way, you know, I’ve read so many articles about neurologically typical kids showing up at university not knowing how to use a microwave or not know how to, you know, make an egg or you know, these kinds of very simple tasks or do laundry or whatever it is. So these are things I think that all kids can be focusing on. But especially for kids who are differently wired. I personally see this as a really big deal. And when we first learned about what was going on with Asher, that was the advice we got from someone who was involved with the center where he was assessed is really those executive functioning skills are going to make all the difference and working on them as kids you know when they’re younger is such a great way to help Learning happened because they’re neuroplasticity, you know, it’s, they’re primed to be developing these things.

Simone Davies  30:05

Yeah. Also, movement is great. If a child is dysregulated, and they get involved with like scrubbing a table, it can actually help them calm down for kids who, like need movement to do that. So if you just invent a table scrubbing activity, where there’s a bar of soap, and as a brush, and you wet the brush, and you get them to clean the kitchen table, it can sometimes like, yeah, help them decompress. If they’re really out of control.

Debbie Reber  30:32

Absolutely. And you get a clean table out of it.

Simone Davies  30:34


Debbie Reber  30:35

So there’s one other space I wanted to make sure we touched upon today. And that is the idea of a homework or a workspace. So for a lot of our kids, they are very easily distracted. I know we, you know, I’m homeschooling. So I’m always trying to figure out, you know, what is the right space for different kinds of activities. And I’m always like, taking notes about okay, this working at his desk for math is working right now. So how can we make that space more conducive to work, both in terms of helping kids feel productive, or not get distracted, when they’re doing that, and then also helping them stay organized? Because a lot of these kids, it’s kind of a classic, especially for kids with ADHD is losing homework assignments, showing up to school having known they did their homework, but not knowing where it is like, what thoughts do you have about how to set up a workspace to support kids like that?

Simone Davies  31:29

Yeah, it’s definitely difficult for those kids to organize themselves. And so we can, we need to keep it as simple as possible that their homework always gets unpacked and put in exactly the same place that their work area is actually clutter free without distractions lying around. Because if they see the iPad sitting on their desk, before you know it, they might be distracted to do something like that. So really, to remove everything else that they don’t need, and to have at the ready what they do need. I like to also have like a little set of drawers where they can access a pencil or some paper, or stapler, scissors, depending of course on their age, so that if they need something, they don’t have to walk to the other side of the house, wonder where it might be. I remember just having a cup of tea at a friend’s house and our kids were playing and they wanted to make some comic book and they kept running into the thing saying mom was sticky tape. And then she’d have to ruffle through like hundreds of drawers to find some sticky tape. And so if this isn’t a completely, you know, there’s no differently why kids here, but not teaching kids to take care of stuff themselves. So just taking a little bit of time to set up the work area to be very inviting distraction free, everything at the ready and with the things always in the same place that could really help a child, learn that system, and then be more productive every day, do it the same every day. Because again, the less work that brain has to do to how do we do this again, you know, it really just helps the executive function a lot.

Debbie Reber  32:53

Yeah, there’s a book that I love called Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, and it’s about How to Change Things When Change is Hard. I think that’s the subtitle, but they talk about kind of, I’m going to say this incorrectly, but basically setting up the right path, like to create the perfect environment so that you can take the thinking out of it, right. That’s what we’re when we’re forming new habits, we eventually want kids to come home, know, their backpack goes here, their homework goes there, you know, just and make this be more automatic, because then that doesn’t allow for the space really, for them to get distracted with other things.

Simone Davies  33:30

Yeah, and the one thing that we haven’t really talked about is to make the spaces really beautiful and attractive, because then then it’s more conducive to, you know, being a place that they want to hang out, and that they actually want to do their homework or something like that. So that can also happen in their bedroom. It might be a simple poster, or building something in like, if a kid likes cozy things, then to have a cozy corner where there’s a blanket and a beanbag, you know, that could be a really nice place where they do their reading for school. And so looking at the space and setting it up for your child can be really nice, too.

Debbie Reber  34:02

Yeah, and enlisting them in that right, asking them to help you create that space.

Simone Davies  34:06

Definitely. They love to be involved, and then they have their own space that they’re really proud of, and they can take care of him clean as well.

Debbie Reber  34:14

Right. Perfect. Okay, so I think we went through our home tour and like he’s the main rooms I wanted to cover today. You shared so many strategies and tips already. But do you have any kind of like key strategies that you would want to make sure our listeners take away from this episode?

Simone Davies  34:31

Well, I think like the three main things that we covered today would be like one, how can you set up the space so the child could be more independent so that it was maybe putting their plates and bowls down low in the kitchen or having their bags and shoes always in the same spot so that they can take that on and do it themselves? Secondly, it will be making things attractive, comfortable, and cozy so that it’s an inviting comfortable space in every area of your house. And thirdly, it would be to remove a lot of the distractions so to clear away things put things that aren’t being I can use daily into storage and rotate things as they need. And as your child changes, interests and that kind of thing. So those would be my three main things for people to put straight into action.

Debbie Reber  35:10

Those are great tips. Thank you for those. And before we go, would you mind just taking a minute to tell us a little bit about you’re setting up your home Montessori style class and also where people can get in touch with you?

Simone Davies  35:23

Sure, I run a website called And we offer an e-course called Setting Up Your Home Montessori Style. And it’s a four-week online course where you receive a lesson every few days, we go step by step, and room by room through the house, giving ideas on how you can simplify your spaces, make them more attractive, and of course, build independence into the spaces. It’s a really fun course. And we’ll be running it again at regular time. So if you want to find out when the class is running, you can just sign up for our newsletter list. That’s probably the best way to get in touch.

Debbie Reber  35:59

Excellent. And I will include links to that information on the show notes for listeners. So you can check out Simone’s stuff. She also has a good blog and actually has created some pretty incredible free resources on there, as well that you would definitely want to check out. So Simone, this has been so fun to bed. We weren’t in the same room. But I have to just say I learned something new every time I talk with you about this stuff. I mean, for as much time as we spent together and have talked about these issues, I always get takeaways that’s kind of fresh for me. So thanks for sharing all this. This is super helpful for our community. I’m sure that everyone has gotten a couple of good tips that they can implement right away. So thanks again for being on the show.

Simone Davies  36:43

You’re most welcome and me thank you for all your work. I think it’s lovely that you can make parents and other people in these differently wired kids’ lives dark to see the world through their eyes. And that’s what we like to do in Montessori too. So it really resonates with me. Anyway, the work you do, so keep it up.

Debbie Reber  37:02

You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to Simone’s website, her e-course Setting Up Your Home a Montessori Style and the other resources we mentioned in our conversation, visit the show notes page at 49. And an FYI, Simone is going to be running a live version of our e-course starting at the end of this week, so definitely check that out. If you’re interested in learning more. If you like what we’re doing here, please consider supporting our podcast through our Patreon campaign. My goal is to ultimately outsource the most time-consuming aspects of podcast production and I am very close to being able to do that. If you’re a regular listener and you get value out of our podcasts, even a modest contribution, a few dollars a month can make a big difference. Just visit for more information and thank you for considering if you’re not already signed up for our newsletter, I would love for you to join our till parenting online community. I send out short weekly updates with links to new content on the tilt website, articles and resources just for you. Thanks again for listening. For more information on to parenting visit


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