Updated: May 30
Welcome to Montessori Around the World. This is a series of interviews with Montessori families and caregivers from around the globe. Here you get to see the similarities and differences in how Montessori is practiced and read first hand about how it has shaped people's lives.
So, Carine, what's your Montessori story?
I first trained as a child psychologist in my home country and worked for many years with children and their families. I moved to Ireland in 2006, following my husband. There, I started to work in a nursery and discovered Montessori.
After I had my first child, I went on reading more about Montessori. I was recommended the book “How to raise an amazing child” by Tim Seldin by a friend. And it’s how I was hooked. My daughter was around 6 months old. We had spent nearly a month back in my family in Belgium and following that intense month of overwhelming attention, my daughter had become very demanding. She only wanted to be sat up, despite that she was not able to do so by herself. She wanted to be carried and entertained. I was loosely following some RIE principles, and I wanted to encourage her to explore freely as she used to do before we spent a month with my family.
After reading Tim Seldin’s book, I cleared up the play area and lie down next to her, encouraging her to explore one simple toy at a time. It took her a few days to settle and to enjoy once more a lying-down position.
From that moment, I was observing her more and I was more mindful while choosing toys for her.
I started my Montessori training a few months later and went on working in a Montessori classroom when my daughter was 2 years old. I have since worked in the classroom then managed a Montessori preschool until 4 years ago while also running my parent's and toddler's Montessori group. We had the opportunity to send my youngest to a local-ish Montessori school. And it’s when I decided to run my own business for good, supporting parents to implement Montessori at home. I set up a FB group which is still the only one focusing on Montessori in the UK. I also help parents through my e-courses and my Montessori subscription boxes.
Has Montessori affected your lifestyle and how you chose to parent / care give?
I think Montessori has given me the foundations to support my children’s independence. When they were little, it was about their day-to-day independence, helping them to develop practical life skills and care for themselves. As I have now one teenager at home, we keep nurturing that independence by encouraging her to make choices, to develop a passion, and to develop a critical mind.
Montessori is also all about freedom and both myself and my husband are passionate about nurturing free thinkers. We are very cautious about not imposing our values, religions, and opinions on our children. We are a family where existential questions are constantly debated at the dinner table!
Please share a Montessori success and / or unsuccessful attempt story that has stuck in your mind.
One big success for me was to have witnessed my daughter learning to read and write with the Montessori method. I was lucky enough to be able to work part-time and she was coming with me to the Montessori classroom. She was keen to keep on learning at home and she was so keen to follow the Montessori curriculum. She was in a way a “perfect Montessori child” which is not what one should expect!
An unsuccessful attempt would be to have kept the desire to help in our everyday tasks at home. While my children liked all kinds of cooking and baking when they were little, as they grew, the desire to help us faded away. I am still trying to figure out how to encourage them to participate in day-to-day chores which do not involve reward charts and punishment.
What’s your favourite Maria Montessori quote and why?
"Free the child’s potential and you will transform it into the world" - Dr. Maria Montessori.
I like the idea that every child has potential. We need to offer opportunities to our children and be there to support them but I want to move away from pressuring my children to be “someone they are not meant to be.” I believe the society and often parents force children to comply to an image, to fit a mold, like having a good job, buying a house, having children… I’m sure that every human being can be fulfilled when they are given the tools and the freedom to be themselves.
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of Montessori at home?
Nurturing independence! With independence comes concentration and focus and self-learning. Once the child is motivated to learn, nothing can stop him.
What one piece of advice would you give to others starting out on their own Montessori journey?
I would say to focus on practical life first, make sure your child is as independent as possible so prepare the “environment”, aka your home, to nurture independence.
You can find out more about Carine by following her Facebook and Instagram accounts:
Blog - www.themontessorifamily.com
Instagram - @montessorifamilyuk
Facebook - Montessori for families UK
Interview of Carine Robin by Mie Mari Sløk Rusdal and Jude Saffron
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