An interview with Ananda Montessori

This week, I present you Ananda Montessori, a wonderful place for parents led by Pamela Green. I discovered Pamela when she started to set up a permanent space for her parents and children Montessori classes. Pamela has a wealth of experience and knowledge in Montessori. Parents from Pennsylvania in the United States are lucky to benefit from such an inviting space.

Pamela has kindly agreed to answer some questions.

 

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your family?

Yes, and thank you for this opportunity to share some of myself, and what I do.

I grew up in a family of teachers and was always expected to follow this path. I was told I was a natural teacher, but being a teenager and young adult, this advice did not inspire me…at least not in the ways that I experienced education. I wanted to create my own path. Which I have, thanks to Montessori, and through my own inner work and study.

I am a parent of two grown-up sons, ages 31 and 29, both who attended Montessori school. My eldest son returned to Montessori in the school where I served as Head of School for 20 years, and he taught in a 3-6 classroom. Those years of observing him with children, mentoring his on-going learning, are such treasured memories for me. Both of my boys bring their experience of Montessori to their own lives, teaching me how Montessori is a way of being with others and does not exist only in certain prepared environments. It also reminds me of the importance and impact of what we model as parents, and how enriching the experience of Montessori is for children living and learning in this way. It is a lasting process, in the child and adult.

I have been married to my best friend for nearly 34 years, and the thing I love most is spending time with him, along with our children and their partners. We live in Pennsylvania, near Lake Erie, and one of my favourite times in our summer months is to sail on the water in our sailboat and to sleep to the rocking of the waves. My other interests are reading, yoga and meditation, walking/hiking, and connecting to present and new friends in ways which create and build a relationship.

Over the years I have worked in a number of alternative learning environments. One school was a therapeutic child center for children from age 2 -5 years who were physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. The intention was to begin therapy, learning, and intervention in the early years, helping these children with their unique needs, and attempt to break the cycle of violence. In many ways, my work in this program reminds me of Montessori, by how carefully we prepared the environment to be one where freedom and exploration were possible, in a place of acceptance and trust.

 

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your path to Montessori? 

My journey in Montessori began in 1981 with a visit to a Children’s House as part of my college classes. From that moment I felt the direction of my life shift and become clearer. I wanted nothing more than to learn about this way of being with children, of understanding the child’s natural process of learning, and to study the work of Maria Montessori.

I began teaching in a Montessori school in 1984, then left the classroom during my first pregnancy, and then after having my children returned to the first Children’s House I visited so long ago. In 1992 I began my true Montessori work and study in this wonderful environment. This is the place where I was mentored by inspiring Montessorians, went on to train in Montessori, and then became Head of School.

Since 1990, another work that I have practised is as a birth attendant and childbirth educator. I also serve as a birth doula in hospitals, and as an assistant midwife at home births.

In 2014 I decided to create my own program, Ananda Montessori, as a way of bringing all of my services together: my birth work and Montessori. This for me feels like a natural bridging, as I bring my Montessori practice and understanding of the child to the time of pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postpartum period.

Q: You lead a Montessori parents community, tell me more about your classes?

Ananda is a place for parents to come and attend Parent-Infant and Child classes, where they learn the art and work of observation, which includes what they are seeing of their child and others, as well as observation of their inner reactions and responses.

I offer three separate 8-week courses. The Parent-Infant class begins from birth up through walking. Normally a family will join this class when their infant is 1 to 2 months of age, but if there is a sibling in the program, then the infant may start earlier. Our Parent-Toddler class is for children who are walking steadily, up through age 2.5 to 3 years, and the Parent-Preschooler class is for ages 3 – 5.

 The Parent-Infant classes run for 90 minutes, and the Parent-Toddler and Preschooler classes are for 2 hours. Some children attend once per week, and some attend on additional days. Each parent in our community also attends a monthly discussion group, without their child, where we cover a variety of topics such as: Montessori philosophy, child development, Observation, the Sensitive Periods of the child, setting limits and boundaries, toilet learning, sleep arrangements/concerns, introducing the exploration of food, and what the parents themselves are actively observing and learning.

The physical space of Ananda is in a storefront in my community, in a large room where the environment is prepared for the children who are in a particular class. The parents observe and interact with their child, while also having the opportunity to see me present activities and model ways to be with the children. One thing which has always been an intention of mine and part of my mission wherever I have guided families is that the place of the child is a place for the community. My parents feel a sense of belonging, and they offer to help and are asked for assistance as needed. They become a support for each other as parents, and for the children. I facilitate, but it is their space as well. I have found this to be a beautiful experience for everyone, and an empowering one.

 Q: What would you say to a parent who wants to learn more about Montessori but doesn’t know where to start?

I would begin by finding a Maria Montessori book to read. While doing this, if possible, locate a Montessori school to observe a class. This is what I did, and it was wonderful to be reading while also seeing the living world of Montessori in front of me.

The journey as a Montessori parent is a unique one, which we enter as our children attend a Montessori program. I believe that parents begin their own process of learning at this time, and this is why I have always offered parent education workshops and groups to give this support and mentorship. It is also a journey of self-study, which brings about the understanding that Montessori is a way of living, and happens in the home as well.

So, reading, seeing, and being….these are my suggestions.

Q: Do you have a favourite Montessori quote?

I find that my favorite quote finds its way to me as I am in need to read it. This is the mystery and depth of Montessori for me. I have so many that have touched my heart and enriched my life. I re-read Maria Montessori’s books and again feel re-awakened and inspired.

 

Q: Do you have a favourite Montessori material or Montessori friendly toy?

I have taught Montessori from birth up through the eighth grade, and there are so many materials that I love. But what I love about them is the ways in which they speak the language of the child. Once when I was teaching Montessori elementary and I had presented one of Maria’s Great Lessons, one of the children, who was with me for ten years and had heard the Lessons numerous times, was so touched by her words. He said that she has a way of knowing how to talk right to a child’s heart and that she offers just enough beauty and wonder that it lights a path that the child follows on their own. In our classes, the children always spoke of Maria in the present tense, because she was present, in our minds and hearts.

Q: What are your future projects?

Well, I will continue with my present works and services, which also includes facilitating Positive Discipline workshops and groups, which I love. I plan to offer more webinars on parenting, pregnancy, planning for birth, and more. One of my favorite aspects of Montessori is that of the Spiritual Preparation of the Adult, and of mentorship to parents and teachers. I presently am a Montessori mentor and consultant, and the areas that I bring focus to while assisting someone are of their own inner processes that become awakened through their work in Montessori or parenting. So that they can sense and see what is possible, and view the child or parent who is with them with more clarity and presence.

I also love to write, and am in the beginning process of writing a book with a dear Montessori colleague who lives in the U.K. And, I would love to offer Montessori workshops….so many ideas!

 

If you would like to reach Pamela or learn more about the services she offers, you can find her at

www.AnandaMontessori.com

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.

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