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  • Montessori and me...

    ‘Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.’  Dr Maria Montessori

    When my two children were tiny I remember watching them crawl around the house, slowly getting to know their territory. Bit by bit, their inquisitiveness took them further as they discovered new and exciting places around the house. As I hovered nearby, keeping a watchful eye, it was wonderful to see that sense of independence forming in my kids at such an early age.

    Letting children explore and learn on their own is something I’ve always felt strongly about.  And in that, I’m very much aligned with the Montessori way. Dr Maria Montessori’s philosophy was about allowing children to develop naturally and independently. She believed that children should be free to make their own discoveries and to learn for themselves by ‘doing’ and ‘experiencing’.

    montessori, montessori bookcase, tidy books, kids bookcase

    My very first design, the Tidy Books bookcase, was made with that guiding principle in mind. I wanted kids to have their own special little library so they could pick out their favourite books whenever they wanted rather than having to wait until it was ‘time to read’. So many parents have told me that because of the bookcase their children are reading at every opportunity – which makes me really happy.

    The bookcase is also useful for learning the alphabet.  My daughter, Adèle, used to love pointing to the colourful letters and running her fingers around the tactile wooden shapes. There was nothing forced about her learning – she just did it gradually, in her own time, without me pushing her.

    From recent market research we’ve done here at Tidy Books, I know that many customers are interested in the Montessori way of teaching and would like to bring elements of it into their home. In response, my original bookcase will now also be available with the alphabet in Montessori colours – a simple colour scheme of blue for vowels and red for consonants. And the wooden letters are all lower case – which makes better sense to children as these are the predominant letters they see when they read.

    I love that I share so many values with the Montessori way of teaching. From the very beginning, I set out to design products that made sense to kids and would help to foster their sense of independence. I’ve watched my own children interact with all my Tidy Books designs and seen them grow up to become creative, self-sufficient adults. As a parent and businesswoman, that’s a pretty amazing achievement.

    * The new Montessori-inspired bookcase will be available in the US in the coming months. 

    tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids storage, kids furniture

    Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

  • Why reading is the fastest way to boost your mental health

    Don’t you just love how reading can lift your spirits? I’ve usually got a book on the go but during the occasional reading drought, when I’ve been too busy to stock up on new books, I really notice how it affects how I feel. Reading helps to take me out of my own ‘me, me, me’ world into a wonderful new, magical world and, to be honest, without it I soon feel myself slipping into a low mood.

    So I’m really pleased to hear that the theme of this year’s World Book Night on 23rd April is how reading benefits mental health. The annual event, run by national charity The Reading Agency  helps to get books to people who don’t read for pleasure or who don’t own their own books. Publishers donate books which are then gifted to prisons, hospitals, care homes and mental health charities – and among the books being donated this year will be ones that explore mental health and wellbeing.

    reading benefits mental health, charity, give a book, tidy books, kids reading Simply reading can help kids boost mental health. Photo credit Give A Book

    There has been lots of research about the benefits of reading for mental health, including increasing self-esteem, improving communication between parents and children and reducing stress, anxiety and depression. In one study, reading for just six minutes was found to decrease stress levels by 68% – amazingly it’s a quicker and more effective stress buster than going for a walk or listening to music!

    I totally understand the power of books and how reading benefits mental health. When I was a child, I remember going through periods of anxiety when books were a real solace to me. Whatever was happening around me, I could completely lose myself in a story and it calmed and comforted me. With a book by my side, it felt like everything was going to be OK.

    With one in ten children and young people affected by mental health problems – that’s three out of every 30 in a classroom – isn’t it incredible to think that something as simple as reading a book could help them?

    From my own experience – as a child and now as an adult – I know how truly uplifting reading can be.

    * Tidy Book holds a monthly collection for children’s books that we donate to Give a Book for distribution to schools and prison. For details, please contact us on info@tidy-books.com

    geraldine grandidier, tidy books

    Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

  • Will you still be reading aloud to your teenager?

    I loved reading aloud to my children when they were growing up. To curl up with a book and watch their inquisitive faces as I shared a story with them was such a joy. I’m sure you have that same warm, contented feeling when you read to your kids, too.

    I have to say that when my kids got older and started reading on their own it was both a proud and sad time. It was wonderful seeing them progress onto chapter books, relying less on me for reading duties and happily losing themselves in a book on their own. But once they had become independent readers, I knew my time as Chief Storyteller was over. Or so I thought.

    The other day I met a mum who is still reading aloud to her 13-year-old. How brilliant is that? She and her son share an interest in history and when he started reading a history book that had been recommended by his teacher he suggested his mum read it as well. So she said ‘Well maybe we could read it together.’

    reading aloud, tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids reading Reading aloud together with a Tidy Books Bookcase. Photo credit @_francesasantini_ of Three Little Pigs blog

    You’d think that hanging out with his mum reading would be the last thing a young teen would want to do but her son thought it was a great idea. So in the evening, before his bedtime, they sit on the sofa taking it in turns to read the book out loud to one another. And they both love it.

    A few years ago, research by the children’s publisher, Scholastic, found that three-quarters of parents were reading aloud to their kids when they were aged 5 or under, but that number tailed off as kids grew older. Only 20% of the parents surveyed read to their 9-11 year olds. What’s really sad is that around one-third of those older children said they’d wanted their parents to continue reading to them.

    When your child starts growing up you assume there are some ‘uncool’ things they won’t want to do anymore. But the reality can be so different. The mum I met likens reading a book with her son to watching a TV documentary together. They can discuss the subject, ask each other questions and enjoy the experience of learning together. She really loves that they can share their curiosity about the world through their love of reading.

    She says that reading aloud together is a natural activity for the two of them and that it’s lovely spending quality time with her son – which, let’s face it, isn’t always easy to achieve with a teen! Of course not every teenager wants to read with their parents – but it might just be that yours does. You never know until you ask... so I’m going to wrestle the Xbox away from my 14-year-old and find out...

    tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids storage, kids furnitureGeraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

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