Join us for a sneak peak into a day at Ananda Montessori, a Montessori Playgroup in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Pamela Green has blended her extensive experience in Montessori and childbirth to create classes for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their parents. She graciously shared her wisdom about what new parents need, why she created this program, and all the benefits of spending time with her in class. In fact, she had so much to share that we created a second post just for expectant families and parents of newborns! (coming soon)
Hi Pamela! Can you share about your journey and experience working with young children?
Hi Leanne, sure! In 1981, I took a tour of a local Montessori school, which transformed my understanding of the natural learning of children. I observed an environment of beauty and intention, created just for the child, which set me on a personal path of discovering Montessori.
I began teaching in 1984, and soon after started my own family. In 1992, I returned to the school I had visited in 1981, where I served as teacher in a primary class, elementary classroom, and as Head of School for 20 years. My two sons attended this school through elementary, so I had the wonderful pleasure of being a Montessori parent as well!
I now work as a consultant and mentor for schools, teachers and parents, as well as facilitating Montessori and Positive Discipline parent groups and workshops. I left my previous school in 2013 to begin my own program, Ananda Montessori, which serves families during pregnancy, and children from birth through age four. I chose the word Ananda because it means great joy or bliss, which to me expresses the natural state of the young child.
Parents attend each session, so are able to observe and participate along with their child. Also, I have been a childbirth educator, birth doula, and midwife assistant in home and hospital births for the past 27 years. It is for this reason that I think of myself as a Montessorian Birthkeeper, and created my present program and services to bring what I know of the mother, child and parenting to these early stages of life.
Why should parents attend a Montessori Parent-Infant Class?
Attending a Montessori Parent-Infant Class benefits the child, the parent, and the community. The class is a safe, nurturing, comfortable environment outside the home to explore, which becomes like another home. This prepared space is set up to meet the natural needs of the infant and child, who is learning all of the time.
The parents receive education, support, and guidance in learning to observe their newborn, as well as other children in the class. Learning and practicing this skill of observation improves the parent-child relationship, by allowing the parent to begin to truly see their child, and to view themselves in response to this relationship. Parents also observe the facilitator, who demonstrates activities, and positive interaction between an adult and newborn/child.
Both the newborn/child and parent has the opportunity to meet other parents, share experiences, and form friendships. As far as the larger community, having children whose needs are observed and met in the early years has a positive impact on the rest of the child’s life, and knowledgeable and aware parents benefit their own families as well as others.
How do children spend their day in your playgroup?
My Montessori Playgroup takes place in my home, so as the parent and child open the door, the learning begins. The entryway is set up with a low chair, low places to hang up coats, sweaters, and a closet for parents. I greet each child as they enter and are ready to be met, and then we make our way to the classrooms.
I have one environment for children from birth to age three, and one environment for ages 2.5 to four. Each small friend begins to explore, and once the parents settle in, it is time for observation, and to record notes in their journal. I observe as well, and also offer some presentations to the children, and sometimes guidance.
Our session time is either 90 minutes or two hours, depending on the age of the child. But after about an hour together I will invite an older friend, or they will go on their own, to choose from our snack basket of fruit or other items, prepare the snack, and then offer this to the children who are eating solid foods, and to each of the adults. Sometimes we have a snack together in one classroom, and sometimes the older children are in the other space. The doors to each of the classrooms are open, so the children can travel to each room.
We then sometimes share a story, a song, visit together, then explore further, and then it is already time to go! My parents also meet monthly for a 90-minute discussion class, which covers a variety of topics.
This sounds super fun! I would have loved to spend time here as a child. How can people follow up and learn more about your work?
You are always welcome to come visit, and explore the environments! Make sure you call ahead so we can welcome you. Learn more about me, my work and services by visiting the website, our facebook page, or contacting me directly. When we're offering a class, group, or workshop, these events will be listed on both of these sites.
Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions.