Jasmine: When I was in London, I had the pleasure of hearing about Carine Robin and the weekly Montessori playgroups she runs in Bedfordshire, United Kingdom (UK). I reached out to her and she very kindly answered some questions I had.
(All photos in this post are courtesy of Carine, taken during her playgroups)
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into Montessori.
Carine: I first encountered the Montessori education while working in a nursery in Ireland. I got immediately interested in the philosophy. After my first child Lily was born, I got really hooked!
I was advised by a friend to read “How to raise an amazing child” by Tim Seldin. What appealed to me was that the Montessori education follows the natural needs and development of the child. That was completely in line with what I learned during my training as a psychologist. It made so much sense that I decided to train as a Montessori teacher.
(Leaving puzzle pieces “undone” in a basket, to encourage the child to complete the puzzle)
Since then I worked in several Montessori schools as a teacher. I even managed one!
I now have turned my focus in working with parents. I believe that Montessori starts at home. The principles can be applied by everyone to raise independent, creative and confident children.
2. I’m sure many readers would love to join a Montessori playgroup like the one you are running. Would you give us an idea of what you do during your playgroups and give us some advice for how to start/ run a playgroup?
Carine: The playgroup is an opportunity for parents and children to discover what the Montessori education is, and how to apply the principles at home. The group is open to children from birth to 5.
I believe that Montessori is a way of life. It’s a way to guide our children and help them to fulfill their potential.
I carefully choose every toy and material. I want to give children every opportunity to become independent.
Most parents are attracted by the beautiful wooden toys and material at first.
They then become amazed at the new skills their children are developing, such as preparing their own snack.
It’s amazing to see the children progressing in the class, week after week.
Parents enjoy playing with their children and many report that they have changed their home settings. They also trust their little ones to do more on their own, to become more independent.
To answer your question about how to start a Montessori playgroup, I can only speak about my experience in the UK. Regulations differ country-by-country , but here you only need a liability insurance to get going.
If you want to start a playgroup but are not Montessori trained, you could let parents know that you are running a playgroup inspired by the Montessori principles.
(Easter activities at playgroup)
It’s quite costly to invest in the Montessori material. You could just focus on offering practical life activities and carefully chosen toys. The key is to offer a calm and carefully set up environment with many opportunities to develop the child’s independence.
3. You also run the Montessori for Families UK Facebook group ! What made you decide to start this group?
Carine: At first, it was only a small Facebook group for the families attending my playgroups or taking my one-to-one coaching sessions. After I started the group I noticed that there was a need for a UK-based group.
Montessori principles are universal and can be applied anywhere in the world, but the way we implement them in the UK can be quite different. In general our houses in the UK are substantially smaller than the houses I see on some blogs and forums. We have to be a bit more imaginative with our house design. We also don’t have access to the same toys and material.
On my group we share tips that are relevant to everyone, however I make sure that my recommendations can be applied by parents living in the UK and Europe.
My group is for every parent interested in using the Montessori principles with their children. Those principles can guide us even if we don’t send our children to a Montessori school, and if we don’t home-school the Montessori way.
It also allows parents to meet local like-minded parents, discover the Montessori landscape in UK and be guided on their Montessori journey. It’s mainly a UK-based group, but everyone is welcome! The more, the merrier. I am quite pleased that we have reached 3000 members!
4. Finally, any suggestions for parents starting to get into Montessori?
My main tip is to observe your child like Montessori did with the children in the Casa dei Bambini.
Parents are often eager to buy new toys and modify their house after they’ve discovered Montessori. That’s perfectly fine, but the first step should be to understand their child’s development, and what he or she is into.
My approach is very pragmatic. There is no need to buy expensive material if you can’t afford it. If you can, great! But that’s not necessary.
My goal is to help every parent interested in Montessori to apply the key principles at home. I want to spread the Montessori philosophy beyond the boundaries of the expensive wooden material and private schools.
I believe passionately in the Montessori education! I am convinced that the children who are raised according to the Montessori principles will become self-reliant, creative individuals who will thrive in tomorrow’s society.
Thank you for your time and insight Carine!
Pls visit Carine on her social media handles:
If you enjoyed this, you may also like a tour of a Montessori/ Waldorf nursery in London (and interview with the founder, Paula Woodman) and a tour of their children’s art studio