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, Krinio, what's your Montessori story?
I’m living in Greece and I’m of mixed Greek-German heritage. My background is in international law and I’ve worked in various jobs in the humanitarian sector. However, I’m now working as a therapist, after completing my training in narrative therapy. I’m also the author of two children’s books. I was reading a lot about Montessori during my pregnancy so I more or less started from the start. I prepared a minimal environment, didn’t use containers for the baby, put up a mirror at floor level and baby-wore a lot, often narrating as we were going through practical life activities. Mostly, however, during the early days I just tried to stay afloat, snuggled and nursed (this is for all the new parents who, as I did, get anxious to start everything as soon as possible!)
Has Montessori affected your lifestyle and how you chose to parent / care give?
Definitely. Montessori has made me see my child as capable, as a little wonder and as a whole person. I like how in the Montessori practice children are a promise to the future but are also seen as complete and wonderful just how they are now. It also ties in very well with respectful parenting in my view. So it has inspired me to address my child with respect and grace, I try to keep in mind that my example is stronger than my words (so model, model, model!) and that I need to have age appropriate expectations. Since Montessori is based on observation and the scientific method it’s also a great stepping stone for looking into recent research, into neuroscience, trauma informed parenting and education etc. This has in turn affected even my adult relationships and ties in very well with my training in narrative therapy, where you learn to see the client (no matter the age!) as the expert for their own problems.
Please share a Montessori success and / or unsuccessful attempt story that has stuck in your mind.
It’s kind of a 2 in 1. My 14 month old recently has started handing me plates from the dishwasher and he even put a fork in the drawer on his own. He also loads the washer on his own. What is hidden behind this success is, for me, the essence of Montessori: trial, error and perseverance all while I allowed it to happen. It meant piles and piles of clean clothes on the floor. It meant drawers completely emptied of socks and underwear. Dirty spoons in his mouth quicker than I could stop him. Again and again. I put the socks back, I slowly and clearly said “load” or “unload” while modelling. And the other day, there was a moment I caught myself smiling, happily surprised as I realised I had brushed my teeth and was applying my face lotion while he was putting the laundry in the washer without any help.
What’s your favourite Maria Montessori quote and why?
“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” It’s not one that is so much telling of the method but I love it because it highlights the respect towards the child at the core of the Montessori philosophy! It’s a quote that shows love, admiration, and a hope for mankind. And I also love a tiny detail, how Montessori mentions and believes in the innocence of the child.
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of Montessori at home?
I guess you can tell from my previews answers, but it’s the respect. I know this almost makes the Montessori method identical to respectful parenting but I mean more than that. It’s to take the method and apply it through the lease of respect. I observe the child and rotate activities because I respect his interest. I try to create an accessible space because I respect him as a cohabitant in our home. I offer challenging activities because I respect his intellect and potential. So, I do all that, not because the Montessori method will make my child successful, because some famous people have been educated following the method as children or because it’s instagram famous. I do what I do because my child, a whole person, a “promise to mankind” deserves to be treated with respect.
What one piece of advice would you give to others starting out on their own Montessori journey?
Start by reading a bit, ideally something by Maria Montessori herself, to understand why you want to practice the Montessori method (I recommend “The Absorbent Mind”). Don’t focus on the materials! See what interests your child. Many parents are disappointed because their child won’t sit down to do an activity or doesn’t play with their (expensive and Montessori aligned) toys. Watch them first! Take notes what they gravitate towards. If they are interested in opening and closing drawers this is an activity. Let the child be a part of everyday life / practical life, don’t underestimate them and leave them in peace as long as they don’t call for you. (Oh, and a total game changer for me as a new mom: babies don’t get bored. They are busy exploring literally everything. Leave them be and take a breath.)
You can find out more about Krinio by following her Facebook and Instagram accounts: https://www.instagram.com/krinio_pappa/?hl=el
Interview of Krinio Pappa by Mie Mari Sløk Rusdal and Jude Saffron
Come join in the conversation at: