Montessori in Mainstream Schools – Interview with a teacher

As much as I love Montessori, a Montessori school or Homeschooling might not be on the cards for your family.

My own daughter is in public and mainstream education. She went to a Montessori preschool then she continued onto mainstream school. We had the option to send her to a Montessori school from Year 4 but she chose at the time to remain in her school, with her friends.

I'm planning to discuss more about how to keep your Montessori principles while your child attends a conventional school. 

But today, I have the pleasure to introduce you to Viktoria, a Montessori teacher from London. She teaches in Nursery and Reception in a Public school. She has the immense privilege to be able to use the Montessori method within the school system. 

There are few other similar schools in the UK and I hope to be able to share more info as I'm planning to interview the head teachers of those schools.

Read below Viktoria's experience 

Visit her Instagram account : Montessori is Art.

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

My name is Viktoria. Formerly I come from Ukraine but living in London for 12 years now. Back in my country, I studied psychology and foreign literature for 5 years. I am also a qualified teacher of English. When I arrived to the UK, I worked a lot with little children and decided to get my qualification in Montessori education. Working as a Montessori teacher brings me lots of joy and is quite rewarding. I enjoy seeing children improving their skills using Montessori ways. I love learning languages, traveling, and creating activities. I also have a son who is only 1 month old.

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

I remember it was 2011 and I was working in all daycare nursery. One of my colleagues was studying online to get her Montessori qualification, which she was talking about during our lunch together. I've never heard of Montessori before so I was intrigued. After I googled for possible courses and found the Orchard House School providing 1-year Montessori course through MCI and full time working in a school as an experience. It was intensive and well worth it!

Q: You work in a mainstream school. Can you tell us how you incorporate Montessori in the classroom?

To make the curriculum a bit more interesting, the school uses Montessori equipment. It's a great balance! We created Montessori area (used mostly in Nursery and Reception classes) and also ordered a few activities for Year 1 and 2 to use as additional help to understand abstract concepts using the hands-on experiences. I am based in the Nursery class, so In the morning we do Montessori activities (for 30 mins), and then complete teacher planned activities. Then we back to Montessori in the afternoon (for 2 hours with a 15 mins break in between).

Q. Are there some aspects of Montessori that you cannot implement while being in a public school?

Yes, we don't have enough time to complete the full work cycle, and we use Montessori mostly as reinforcement of what was learned before.

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

Read the book "The Absorbent Mind", pay for a Montessori workshop, do lots of research online, watch videos etc. 

Q: Do you have a favourite Montessori quote and why?

"Help me to help myself." When I first heard it, it took me back to my childhood. I was rethinking how much I've missed when learning to reach my full potential and how that affected me psychologically. Learning was always something really stressful for me, and now I know where the teachers were wrong with their ways of teaching. Montessori method is priceless in that sense.

Q: Do you have a favourite Montessori material in the classroom?

I love all of them! Pouring and transferring I can do for hours, but my favourite area would be Knowledge and Understanding of the world.

Q: What are your future Montessori projects for the school?

Apart from continuing working in Nursery and Reception, I would love to bring up more Montessori materials for Year 1 and 2 and suggest  1:1 support teachers to use Montessori equipment during their sessions. 

Q: What are your hopes for the future of Montessori education?

I hope it continues to grow and widespread. Also, I hope Montessori education would be more available for children from lower backgrounds and used more in older age groups.

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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.

  • Heike says:

    At the core of it, each parent has the same hope for their child – that they will develop to their fullest abilities… So one send them to school… But what is presented is not an environment to nurture abilities and skills to blossom, but a dictionary defined brainwashing machine: “a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented.”

    “Forcibly,” because schooling is mandatory, and most have no choice besides public school. Granted, perhaps not “contrasting” if you happen to be of the same mind… but the point is that public schooling should be free from all those influences, and focus on how to foster learning and the children’s development.

    Because it’s not like anybody has to recreate the wheel… There are Montessori schools all over the world for all ages and schooling…

    I kept thinking: How can it be that still today, governments and communities have not begun piloting Montessori programmes in public schools…

    So I am glad to hear that the change is coming… I am also frustrated with how slow it is and the seeming inability to influence the decisions made by governing bodies – who should be reasonable, neutral and utilitarian… I think that so much wrong in this world can be corrected by just changing this one thing – how we think… Incorporating reason and self-reliance and being skilled at learning. Changing our understanding of mainstream education to a more children’s development approach like Montessori.

    #HelpMeToHelpMyself vs #TellMeWhatToDo… #Learn2Think vs #DoAsHaveBeenTold… #Reason vs #Rule…

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