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One of the most common questions parents ask me is "how to choose a Montessori school?"
I have answered that question here.
And I though it would be interesting to introduce you to some amazing Montessori schools from all around the world.
Today, I want you to meet Dawn Nasser, the founder and head teacher of Rose House Montessori.
I met Dawn 8 years ago.
When I first moved to London, I decided to undertake a short training about Montessori and the under 3. I was already a Montessori teacher. I had that idea to set up a toddler group so I went on deepening my understanding of the Montessori principles for the youngest ones.
Dawn was my trainer and since, we have kept in touch! Some of the things she said during that training have reshape my parenting for the better so I am forever grateful for her amazing knowledge and experience.
Enjoy this interview!
My family are from south London, i went to school in Battersea. I am mum of two (now adults) children, and now i have my adorable grandson. I am a social bunny! i do enjoy going out...to dinner....to the theater...for a catch up with friends...but I also love my quiet time at home reading.
My journey into Montessori, came about as a second career. I originally studied and trained within the hospitality industry, specifically as front office manager for hotels. Having spent 16 years in the middle east, when I returned to London as a mum with two small children, I needed a change of direction.
My daughter’s teacher in Bahrain had told me she was Montessori trained when i asked about her qualifications as she was and still is a lovely, kind, teacher.
She recommended I read Montessori, a modern approach by Paula Polk Lilard.
Reading that book upon my return and enrolling my son into a Montessori nursery, triggered me to wanting to enrol on the course.
I was very fortunate, as the owner of the nursery school, when finding out I was enrolling, invited me to a talk where the guest speaker was none other than Paula Polk Lilard herself!
How lucky was I? Seeing her actually speak the words from her book, i was hooked.
It has been a two staged journey, first we were registered as an early years provision.
To be registered as independent school you need to have 5 children over the age of 5 years attending full time education.
It took a 2 year transition and a lot of marketing!
We also had to ensure we had all our paper work and policies ready in line with independent school statutory requirements as we needed to ensure we were submitting at least 6 months before we knew we needed to be legally.
In 2011 it was a two stage process - the pre-registration was to check the building - which was already registered as an early years provision - so a little bit easier but there was still some challenges like needing to have a sick bay!
This year, Rose house Montessori school is celebrating 14 years - although only 8 of those have been as a whole school. We take children from 2 years of age through to 11 years of age offering the Montessori curriculum.
I always think that if a parent is asking, they have already made the first step and are potentially already unconsciously applying much of the philosophy because they are recognising something.
So I always first give them this acknowledgement.
I still recommend the books from the Lilard family.
Montessori, a modern approach: I find it an easy read about the understanding of the foundation of the philosophy
Montessori today which focuses on the elementary curriculum
Montessori in the classroom: scenes from a class of 5 year old children
My Montessori and Gentle Discipline Course will help you to understand your child and to bring peace into your home.
Well this is a personal response.
What I think are the benefits based upon my experience, observation and reflection of the journey to date. ...
1. Happy, well-rounded children, who are eager, keen and motivated to learn every day. I believe this is through the firm foundation of them understanding the boundaries of their freedom and responsibility with their own plane of development
2. Children whose social cognition is advanced by aged 11, where they show confidence and respect to work as a team and have the emotional balance to respond to many different situations.
3. Children who understand their own health and well-being
4. Children who unconsciously respond to their creative mind through effective thinking and the confidence to share those ideas and apply these ideas cross-curricula
5. Children who, whilst have not been smothered with testing, are confident to know what this means and how to approach it confidently.
6. Well-rounded children across all areas of the curriculum.
7. Children who continue to be highly motivated to learn and show great depths of involvement and flow because of their intrinsic motivation to learn.
As explained above, one of the key benefits that i have always seen is the child’s advanced social ability and well-rounded understanding of their own emotional well-being. For me it is these two key developments that enable our children to confidently move or transition. It is always difficult for parents as they are making the decision before their child is 11 years old!
But 10 and 11 year olds are on a different plane of development - they are ready for the outside. They should still be in an upper elementary class of course as the curriculum goes through to 12 years of age.
Where the focus of the curriculum is about going out - mixing in different surrounds - the foundation of the curriculum up to this stage has prepared the child for this.
But parents also forget, year 7 into secondary school is a transition for every child. Secondary schools know this and their own plans in the first few weeks are about this for every child.
Oh, I actually don’t! Is that bad of me? I love everything I read. I believe that we need to read her work all the time. Words that meant something as a student now have far deeper meaning that I have some experience.
But interestingly, I often include quotes that relate to the Montessori teacher - and of course this means as much for the parents as for the teacher in the class.
We sometimes forget to read her words on our role and focus just on the development of the child.
But we must remember, the child needs the Montessori adult as the guide.
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The spiritual preparation of ourselves is just so vitally important, as if our ability to have faith and trust in environments we have planned and prepared, so long as we have planned them to meet the needs of the child, in working towards self-regulation and independence that ‘helps them to help them self’ that is appropriate to their age and development.
“the work of education is divided between the teacher and the environment...in our schools a teacher does no more than facilitate and explain to a child The very active and prolonged work laid out for him in choosing objects and employing himself within them” ( Montessori, the discovery of the child, 2007:p150-151)
The paragraph goes on to use gymnastics as an example, where you need the instructor and the equipment to learn - but after being showing, it is repetition of the action that achieves mastery! It is the student themselves that must work to achieve the results!
I have a passion for the cultural material and especially the ‘map’ work.
But what my experience as a Montessori teacher into the elementary has shown me is the importance of the 3 to 6 year old curriculum as being the foundation and how often the material come back to life in the elementary, especially through the mathematical mind, but also through the cultural materials.
Another lovely question. I always have plans. I would love to provide more for parents and the birth to 2 year olds and I would also love to keep my upper elementary children to at least 12 years of age. I am attending a Montessori adolescence workshop in Prague in May, as part of my own research in respect of this.
I have started my professional doctorate - my focus for this research is to look more at what Montessori brings to the child in respect of thinking, imagination and the creative mind,
I would just love to see more Montessori Schools across England. This is something we are considering. Can we bring a Rose House Montessori School ethos to other communities - but my biggest dream would be to see the Method more accessible to all children up to the age of 11 years, not just within the independent sector. That though is a bigger ask as it would mean a major change of the education policy.
At the moment as an independent school we do not have to follow the national curriculum, but to be clear about the curriculum that we offer, that our parents are aware of the curriculum and we can all see the child’s progress within it.
For Montessori to be a part of the main stream, more connections to the national curriculum have to be made and I feel at this time, this could be one of the main stumbling blocks.
I hope you have enjoyed this interview and have a look inside the school! The school has an open door policy so feel free to contact them for a visit.
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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