This is the fourth interview in the Exploring the Essence of Montessori Parenting Series. You can read the past interviews here.
Today’s interview is with Mary Deans-Romero. I connected with Mary via the Facebook Montessori Teacher’s group. I am always interested so see how parents with multiple young children are applying Montessori at home because it is definitely different. Mary is a former lower elementary teacher turned SAHM in Raleigh, N.C. who is raising her children in a English-Spanish bilingual home. She also teaches fitness classes for fun. I love the realness of this interview and could relate in so many ways. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
– Tell me a little about yourself
I am an AMI trained teacher at the 3-6 and 6- 12 levels. I am also a former lower elementary teacher turned SAHM in Raleigh, N.C. I am raising my children in a English-Spanish bilingual home. It is important to me that my children maintain both languages and truly appreciate both cultures that made them (Southern American and Honduran). For fun, I teach fitness classes.
– How did you discover Montessori?
I learned about the bell material in one of my books on early childhood music during my bachelors degree work in music education (I have a BM in music Ed), so I knew a little about it. I really discovered it a few years later. I was teaching an afternoon instrumental music program at an AMI Montessori school (band, recorder, piano…) while I was working on my graduate certificate in Autism education at Johns Hopkins. At the time, I was doing a research paper on effective inclusion practices in preschool and everything I was finding was there in the classrooms! Everything the experts recommended such as a prepared environment, practical life (specifically care of self), having consistent manipulatives, a rich sensory environment without being overwhelming… It all was there in the primary classes! I thought, I need to learn more about this! I went onto my AMI primary training at WMI at Loyola with a M.ed. A few years later, I completed my AMI elementary training in Milwaukee.
– What does Montessori parenting mean to you, and what are some of the ways that you have implemented Montessori at home?
Montessori parenting means observing and matching the environment to my children in the best way I can. It means honoring my children’s developmental milestones and supporting them to the best of my ability. I see my children as essential members of our household. I try to fold them into every aspect of the home by setting up an environment that is accessible and functional for them.
– What is your favorite part of being a Montessori parent
Being a Montessori parent is easier in a lot of ways. The prepared environment and routines save my sanity. I can rest on the couch when I need to and know my children can play just about anywhere and be fine. They do not need constant supervision. I am thankful for the observation skills I learned during my Montessori training. I love seeing the growth and fun things my children learn to do, often all on their own!
– What is the most challenging part of being a Montessori parent
The most challenging part of being a Montessori parent is realizing the differences between the classroom and the home. Oh my, the differences!!! I used to get so frustrated that my daughter especially was not responding to her lessons the way she would in class. She is exceptionally stubborn (just like me) and refuses practical life work. I had to learn to back off and appreciate her for what she can do at home instead of what I think she should be doing at home. I’m still learning this. She goes to Montessori school all day and just needs a break. She is my best teacher.
-How did implementing Montessori at home change from one child to 3?
Going from one child to three rocked my world. I didn’t have to change an exceptional amount physically and structurally. The areas my toddler used as a baby became baby space again. I do have to think ahead a lot. My little house is kind of like a Montessori Lego set: it’s always changing little bits at a time to meet the changing needs of my children. It takes a lot of creativity! The biggest difference… With one child, everything can be done so beautifully, effortlessly and wonderfully. The weaning lessons especially. With twins (editor’s note: or multiple young children), you learn to go with things and do your best.
– You are also RIE trained. What drew you to RIE and how do you combine both philosophies
I have my RIE 1 training. I discovered RIE during my work at my last school. Most of the toddler staff was AMS trained by a lovely woman who was my RIE trainer, Bev Kovach. I taught primary and lower elementary at that school. When I taught primary, my class was across the hall from 3 toddler classes. I loved learning from those women and decided to pursue RIE as a bridge to my learning more about the infant years especially.
Even though I enjoyed my RIE training, I find a gravitate more toward Montessori, the details specifically…. I have a mirror on the wall in my baby space, I used the Montessori mobile series, my kids have a Montessori infant room with floor beds. These are not things that are recommended by RIE. I do try my best to slow down and talk through routines such as diapering with my babies. It’s easier said than done with twins. The thing I use most from my RIE training is remembering to be present with my kids… To slow down, to sit in silence and feel their energy, to observe and soak in each moment with them as much as I can. It is such a short time!
– Any tips for new Montessori parents?
New Montessori parents… It is important to remember that Montessori is a philosophy. It is more than materials and arrangement of the home. I think the best thing any new to Montessori person can do is read and observe… Find a good environment to watch and immerse yourself in Maria Montessori’s words. They are like scripture to me
– Your favorite toy/material for baby?
It really depends on the age and the baby. For little ones, I loved to use topponcinos. Push carts are great for my budding walkers, balls of all sizes, and climbing structures. We have a little boat.
– Favorite toy/material for toddler?
For a toddler (and my babies)… A big gathering drum, lots of instruments, play kitchen and the real kitchen, collapsible tunnel, books!!!
And practical life! I almost forgot because it’s so essential. I don’t have space in my home for a specific area so I fold things in where I can. I love getting out a bin and having my children scrub away at vegetables or clean cloths. It is great for snowy days.
– Please share some of your Montessori spaces.
– Finally, Why do you Montessori?
It is the only way I know how to be. I’m a pretty organized person, detail oriented. My life is in the details. Montessori works for me. Most of all and most importantly, I believe living this life is my way of changing the world. I believe in Maria Montessori’s vision and ultimate goal of world peace. I believe that by raising children with peace in an environment where they feel honored, respected, that responds to their developmental needs, we can raise a generation of peaceful people. Where people are fulfilled and happy, there is peace. It starts from the beginning. That is my dream.
Thank you so much Mary!
Did you enjoy that as much as I did!? I loved the analogy about a Montessori home being like a Lego set. I feel the same with my house. I also loved the many reminders to observe and also agree with what was the biggest take away from the RIE foundations training. What resonated with you? Leave a comment.
Mary has created a great Facebook group for Montessori parents of multiples called Multiples and Montessori. I think it is great for parents of not just twins, triplets etc. but also parent with young siblings. Check it out!