Shelf Help

By Nicole Kavanaugh

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Category: Parenting

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Parenting is tough these days; it can feel even harder when you're doing it alone. That's why we're here - this is Shelf Help, where Montessori and parenting meet. Join Nicole Kavanaugh, Amy Dorsch, and friends to chat about Montessori, kids, mom life, and all the joy in between.

Episode Date
Montessori and Open Ended Toys - Episode 27

How do open ended toys fit into a Montessori home? What is the deal with pretend play? What kinds of open-ended toys are best? What should you look for when considering adding open ended toys? In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy answer these questions and dive into the world of pretend play and open-ended toys. 

Show Notes found here:

Sep 21, 2020
Transitioning to Toddlerhood - Episode 26

Toddlers are so different from babies, and their environment needs to change to meet their needs. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about the transition into toddlerhood and children's changing needs as they turn 1-year-old. From gross motor needs, to practical life and toys, we explore everything you need to know for your young toddler. 

Show Notes Here:

Sep 14, 2020
Balancing Montessori Parenthood and Work - Episode 25

It can be a huge challenge to balance work and parenting. Parents can feel so much guilt being pulled between their children and their work. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss working motherhood. We address how we balance work, children, housework and relationships in our Montessori home. And, share our experiences with working both inside and outside our homes.  

Find show notes here:

Sep 07, 2020
Using a Capsule Wardrobe - Episode 24

A capsule wardrobe is a small and intentional wardrobe for each member of your family which can align well with Montessori parenting. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss why they have decided to use capsule wardrobes with their children. They give tips on how they create their capsules, including how laundry works, and the number of options they need. 

Find Show Notes here:

Aug 31, 2020
Handling BIG Emotions - Episode 23

An important part of parenting is dealing with big feelings and emotions from your children, especially around limit setting. In this week’s episode, Nicole and Amy discuss limit setting in Montessori environments and how they gently and respectfully respond to big feelings and limit testing in their homes.They give some examples of how to respond to tantrums, hitting, and sass around limits. 

Find Show Notes here: 

Aug 24, 2020
Birthday Celebrations and Gifts - Episode 22

Birthdays are a wonderful way to celebrate your child but can come with some stress over gifts. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss how they approach birthdays in their Montessori families. This episode includes a discussion on how we approach gift giving with friends and extended families. 

Show Notes are here:

Aug 17, 2020
A Montessori Library - Episode 21

Montessori parents often take a different approach to the books that we choose for our homes. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy look at the qualities of Montessori friendly books and how they approach reading to their children at different ages. We dive into why we delay fantasy, including a brief discussion on Santa.

Show Notes here:

Jul 27, 2020
What's Going To Happen in The Fall? - Episode 20

Parents all around the world are trying to figure out how Covid-19 will effect their lives as school starts this fall. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss their plans for school and life this fall as their schools decide whether or not to open. We share our feelings, our plans, and some tips for homeschooling. 

Find show notes here: 

Jul 20, 2020
Building Sibling Relationships - Episode 19

Let's talk about siblings! From welcoming a new baby to managing conflict, having multiple children can be a challenge. This week, Amy and Nicole talk about their experiences with sibling relationships. We share our experiences with welcoming new babies, dealing with biting and conflict, and nurturing relationships between siblings in a Montessori home. 

Find show notes here:

Jul 13, 2020
Getting Organized - Episode 18
Let’s talk storage solutions — behind many Montessori spaces is a well organized storage system! From books and toys to art supplies and clothing, Nicole and Amy are sharing their favorite storage and rotation solutions. Here are some tips on what has worked and what hasn’t in their Montessori homes.
Show Notes can be found here:
Shelf Help will return July 13 after a quick break.
Jun 29, 2020
Montessori Baby Joy! - Episode 17

Amy has a huge surprise! In today's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about pregnancy and preparing for a baby in a Montessori home. From movement areas, to baby essentials and the importance of floor time, we discuss getting started with Montessori from birth. 

*find show notes on*

Jun 22, 2020
Losing Your Cool As a Montessori Parent - Episode 16
As a Montessori parent we might feel a lot of pressure to be perfect all of the time. In today's episode, Nicole and Amy break down this myth and talk about the times where they struggle to keep calm and respond with grace. We talk about strategies we use with our children, with our environment, and with ourselves to find calm. Plus, a look at what to do after you lose your cool. 
Jun 15, 2020
Losing Your Cool As a Montessori Parent - Episode 16
As a Montessori parent we might feel a lot of pressure to be perfect all of the time. In today's episode, Nicole and Amy break down this myth and talk about the times where they struggle to keep calm and respond with grace. We talk about strategies we use with our children, with our environment, and with ourselves to find calm. Plus, a look at what to do after you lose your cool. 
Jun 15, 2020
Black Lives Matter - Episode 15

Black lives matter. In this episode, Nicole and Amy address the recent murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests. As Montessori parents we strive to be anti-racist and we share and answer some questions that parents can use for themselves to get started on that journey. 

Jun 08, 2020
Summer Outdoor Play - Episode 14

The outdoor prepared environment is just as important as being important as being indoors. There are abundant opportunities to follow your child and learn a variety of skills. With a summer of play right around the corner Nicole and Amy discuss outdoor play with their Montessori families. From pools to nature, to bikes, gardening, and loose parts, in this episode we talk about how we are keeping busy outside this summer. 

Jun 01, 2020
Bedtime Routines - Episode 13

What does bedtime look like in a Montessori family? The answer will vary for everyone as families follow their individual children and their own sleep needs. In this week’s episode Nicole and Amy answer one of your most commonly asked questions and share their bedtime routines and experiences with sleep. We chat about everything from balancing independence, to what we’re reading before bed and how we make it work with multiple kids.

May 25, 2020
Games - Episode 12

Games are a fun way to connect with your child and teach new concepts. But, games are also a great way for children to practice a variety of social-emotional skills. From patience, and turn-taking to wining and losing, games gently introduce these concepts to children. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about some of their favorite Montessori friendly games and how and when they introduce games in their families. 

May 18, 2020
Children and Pets - Episode 11

The bond between a pet and a child can be very beautiful to witness. In a Montessori home, animals provide opportunities to practice social, emotional, and practical life skills. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss the benefits and challenges of having pets and children. We also discuss how we've helped our  children deal with the death of a beloved family pet. 

May 11, 2020
Supporting Natural Gross Motor Movement - Episode 10

Children are born with strong desire to move freely. In Montessori, freedom of movement is respected from birth both at home and in the classroom. In this week's episode Nicole and Amy are chatting about natural gross motor development and how our choices as parents influence our child's ability to move. In particular, we discuss how our clothing choices can help or hinder our children throughout their childhood. We'll get into the do's and don'ts of natural gross motor movement from birth. 


May 04, 2020
Weaning Tables and Starting Solids - Episode 9

*This episode was recorded before Covid-19 and shelter-in-place orders so we mention being out in our communities.* 

Introducing food to your baby can be a fun new adventure for both you and your child. In Montessori we call this process weaning. In today's episode Amy and Nicole discuss their experiences with weaning and preparing their homes for introducing solids. Plus we dive into why and how we use a weaning table for starting solids with babies and young toddlers. 


Apr 27, 2020
From the ABCs to Swearing - Episode 8

As a Montessori parent, the language you use with your children matters. Ultimately the decisions you make will effect everything from how your children learn to read, to how comfortable they coming to you as they grow up. In today's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about their do's and don'ts for language development as Montessori parents. This includes why the ABC song is out but swear words are in! Plus, Amy has an exciting announcement.

Apr 20, 2020
An Interview with Charlotte and Henry - Episode 7

Montessori is an aid to life and can be used from birth through adulthood as a framework for education and parenting. In today's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about Montessori parenting with children in the second plane of development - from ages 6 to 12. We also have our first guests - Charlotte and Henry - our second plane children to talk about what it's like to live in a Montessori home and go to a Montessori elementary school. Join us for an honest look at the beauty and challenges of the second plane of development. 

*Please note that this episode was recorded prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apr 13, 2020
Staying Busy While Staying Home - Episode 6

Like many families around the world, Amy and Nicole are busy trying to balance their new roles as homeschooling and distance learning families with their regular lives as Montessori parents. With children out of school, we are learning new rhythms and facing new challenges - including trying to find some silence! In today's episode, we share some Montessori ideas to balance it all. Plus, lots of great, easy to incorporate ideas for keeping your kids from babies to big kids busy and happy at home. 

Apr 06, 2020
Toddler Classes, Sports, and Summer Activities - Episode 5

In today's world there are so many options for child-centered classes. From music classes, to art and sports, parents are inundated with choices for their children. In today's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss their experiences with classes for babies, toddlers, and older children as Montessori parents. We'll share some tips on what to look for when choosing classes and sports. We talk about how to decide if an activity is Montessori friendly and fits with your child and family. 

*This episode was recorded prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please practice social distancing and take this advice for a safer time. 

Mar 30, 2020
Social Distancing and Montessori - Episode 4

As the Covid-19 pandemic reaches further into the United States, we encourage everyone to practice social distancing at this time. In this episode, Amy and Nicole give an update on their Montessori homes and a look at how they are dealing with the closures related to the spread of Covid-19. We also discuss Montessori ideas and activities for children from birth to age 9 to try when they are spending significant time at home. 

Mar 23, 2020
Floor Beds and Art Museums - Episode 3

Going into traditionally adult spaces with children can be daunting if you aren’t prepared. In this episode, Nicole and Amy share ideas on how to use Montessori grace and courtesy lessons to make it easier for you and your children to navigate the world. Later we’ll discuss why you should consider a floor bed for your home. From nursing to big kids, Amy and Nicole dive into how the floor bed influences their Montessori parenting. 

Mar 16, 2020
Creating Your Montessori Routine - Episode 2

Establishing a family routine or rhythm can be an important step in parenting young children. This routine can look differently for every family. In this episode, Amy and I discuss how we use Montessori to influence our families' rhythms and routines. Whether that is through the use of affirmations and grounding questions, or the Montessori 3 hour work cycle, we are diving into how we structure our days with babies, toddlers, and older kids. 

Mar 09, 2020
Welcome to Shelf Help - Season 1, Episode 1

Welcome to Shelf Help, Where Montessori and Parenting meet. In today's episode, Amy and I introduce ourselves and our new Montessori podcast, plus discuss why we are Montessori parents. Come listen to us overcome the nerves of our first podcast and do a rapid-fire parenting Q&A! 

Mar 04, 2020