Two-year-old Jax Taylor knows a lot more than a normal kid his age. He can make a cup of tea, put on the laundry, and has even prepared meals.
Jax is raised using the Montessori parenting technique by his loving mother Florence. He is encouraged to learn and explore independently, following the Italian approach to raising your children.
Florence says she is always by Jax’s side to make sure nothing goes wrong and that it has made him more self-motivated and self-sufficient, although critics of the technology claim parents could put their children at risk of harm.
She also says that when the toddler is involved in daily chores, they can spend a lot more time together.
Speak with The mirrorFlorence stated, “I liked the idea that my son is self-sufficient, self-motivated, and developed in his own way in his own time.
“It’s about being there to guide the child, but letting them show the way in their development.
“There is no praise or punishment, just guidance and natural consequences. There is also a great deal of emphasis on what we call ‘practical life work’, which is daily living activities such as washing clothes, doing dishes, and DIY.
“The main benefit for my family personally is that there is next to no power struggle and he is a toddler because I allow my son to cook with me, do laundry and anything else he is interested in.
“He’s very independent because he was allowed to be. Without having to say” Mom is busy / go play / no, you’re too small “all the time, he has learned skills that some adults I’ve met don’t have once.
Although Jax is only two years old, he can already do many tasks that children twice his age would struggle with.
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Florence, 25, stated, “My son can and does a full wash cycle. He knows how to get the right setting, where to put the capsule and fabric softener, and then swap them in the tumble dryer when they’re done.
“I went to the kitchen to see him take the laundry to the dryer and all I had to do was say thank you.
“He’s always had an interest in cooking and that’s why I let him. We have child-safe knives and cookware and he pretty much made lasagna, bolognese and omelets himself.
“I’m always there to protect him. He uses the oven but he knows it is hot and he mustn’t touch it and he never did. He even told me to move my hand once because it was on the stove and the stove was hot.
“A common saying in the Montessori community is,” Give as much help as needed, but as little as necessary, “and that is exactly what I do.
“My son knows how to make a cup of tea from start to finish.
“He’s doing the whole process other than pouring the kettle, mostly because it’s too big and heavy for him. But he understands it’s hot and can’t touch it, and this mummy does that part.
“Then he tightens the tea bags and removes them and stirs the tea and off you go.”
And Jax can also enjoy a cup of coffee – he always has a decaf while his mother has the good things.
He also has access to the treat cupboard and can have a snack whenever he feels like it.
Florence from West Sussex insisted that she didn’t get Jex to help and it was just what he decided to do.
She added, “I don’t force my son to do any of these, and neither do I. They are all things he is interested in and I have allowed him to join me and learn and he only does them for his own pleasure and satisfaction. It’s all optional.
“He has access to his own snacks and drinks that he can get all by himself throughout the day, and that’s good for both of us.
“I don’t have to hear him ask for a snack every five minutes, and he has the independence that all toddlers crave just to get it himself.”
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Another benefit Florence proudly speaks of is Jax’s approach to crossing the street and, as he already knows, not to run out right away, but to wait on the side of the road.
She explained, “Of course I’m there to prevent him from running on the street if necessary, but I give him the freedom to make the right decision and he pretty much always does.
“Road safety is a must and the earlier you learn, the better.”
While many parents may worry about their child hurting themselves, Florence said Jax was never hurt because of her approach to parenting.
She explained, “On the contrary, I know a lot of children his age who are very clumsy and always get injuries, and he rarely does that.
“I think because he has the ability to make things independent by trying things out on his own instead of having me stop him all the time, he learned it himself.
“For example, he knows how to use and hold scissors safely, so I once accidentally left scissors on the sofa and he picked them up around the closed blades with both hands and gave them to me – because he knows how to keep them safe holds.
“He is always safe and supervised, but also has the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.”
And Florence is so committed to and believes in the approach that she doesn’t think she’d change it even if Jax were hurt.
That explains, “Honestly, I don’t think I would. Since I am constantly supervising and the environment is prepared for him to do things independently and safely, there is no risk of serious injury.
“It’s a balance between independence and space, with supervision and security.
“I won’t let my son run into the street, but I’ll give him the opportunity to stop on the sidewalk without my input.
“If he doesn’t stop, I’m within reach to stop him myself. Security is non-negotiable, but independence is encouraged.”
Many people fear the approach, some even claim it is irresponsible, but Florence said it was more than safe as long as parents knew what they were doing.
She said, “I can see how it comes across [as dangerous]but when it is practiced properly it is the opposite.
“It is obviously dangerous to stand a two year old in front of a sharp knife and a hot stove with no experience, knowledge or practice. But that’s not what Montessori is about.
“It’s about the scaffolding skills to get to this point.
“If my son had been burned the first time I used the stove, I wouldn’t have let him do it again without more practice and modeling on how to use it safely. And there’s also the misconception that they’re being left alone because they’re allowed to do things independently, and that’s just not the case. You are still being monitored, but I only intervene if he asks for help or is in danger. “
Although most of her family members and friends supported her approach to parenting, she admitted that there had been some negative comments.
“Family and friends aren’t really interested in learning about the method. They are mostly just shocked by all the things my son is already capable of and find it amazing. But of course there have been a few derogatory comments and looks about my son who does “dangerous” things.
“Social media is a spectrum and we got both ends of it.
“For example, my son was just two years old on Halloween and we were carving pumpkins and he was using a real knife that was a good size for his hands and people on Facebook went crazy!
“Half said it was amazing, me and my husband were both there so obviously he was overseeing and how much he respected the knife as a tool rather than a toy.
“The other half claim neglect, vulnerability and poor parenting of children. There were no injuries, not even close.
“He did a great job with the knife and the pumpkin and he very safely returned it to dad when it was finished. I would do it again, and I think he would too, he was so proud of his pumpkin. “
Florence hoped more parents would try the approach, but stressed the importance of researching first.
She said, “First and foremost, educate yourself. You can’t just put your child in front of a knife and onion and expect them to know what to do with them.
“In Montessori there is something called ‘adult preparation’ that needs to happen before anything else.
“Second, do it! Some people will judge, but most are just curious and amazed.
“I really believe that the best anyone can do for their child is to practice Montessori.
“And I’m comfortable with that fact and people’s opinions don’t affect me because I’m happy with my parenting choices and so is my son.”