Hi friend! Today I have an AMAZING interview for you. Pamela Green is someone I have been following on Facebook and Instagram for some time. She is well known in the Montessori community and I knew she would have some great insights. I love the space she has created. It looks warm, inviting and fun!
I am so happy that she took the time to answer some questions so we can get to know her better. She is truly an inspiration for parents, guides, grandparents and really anyone who loves children. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I do. Enjoy!
Tell me a bit about yourself.
First, I would like to thank you for inviting me to share a bit about myself! It is a pleasure to be with each of you. I live in Pennsylvania, outside of the city of Erie, and along the shores of Lake Erie. Once the winter is over my husband and I spend much of our summer and fall on our sailboat, cruising the lake and sleeping on our boat. I am an identical twin.
I am a Montessori parent and grandparent, with both of our sons attending my school during their 3 - 6 years of age, and through elementary. My eldest son and daughter-in-law both trained in Montessori, and at one time they were part of my staff, along with our other daughter-in-law. Those were precious years for me, as Head of School, to travel in and out of their classrooms and observe them with the children. Our grandson now attends classes at Ananda Montessori, my Montessori Parent-Infant and Child Playgroup. So, for over 35 years Montessori has been within our family, in transformative ways.
As part of my practice as a Montessorian, I have been facilitating childbirth classes and attending births as a doula and midwife assistant, since 1989. At Ananda, classes are available for families during pregnancy and up through age six.
Can you tell us a bit about your Montessori journey?
I first entered a Montessori environment in 1981 as part of a Methods and Theories of Education class I was taking at University. Our professor chose a Montessori school to be the place that his students would go, and this visit began my initiation into Montessori. I recall walking down the steps, hearing children moving about, being greeted by many children who were walking in the hallways and into a larger room.
One child introduced herself to me, telling me her name and age and shaking my hand. She guided me into this larger room which was like entering a world of the child. I felt my heart opening as a memory of longing in me as a child was awakened; to find a place just for me. This was that place, and in fact it took me some time to realize that there were any adults present. I first heard their soft voices, down low, and saw two adults sitting on the floor, surrounded by rugs with materials on them that I longed to touch. The child holding my hand took me to her mat (this was the name she called it) and began to work with wooden cubes. Arranging these by color and shape and then placing them by rows into a box. She did not speak but was so focused. I was enchanted. Montessori enchanted me and placed me under a spell of wishing for more.
One of my closest friends at the time had her child enrolled in this school and I began to transport her to and from this House of the Child. I began to linger at drop-off and the two adults, both who became my future mentors, invited me to come join the class. The founder of the school one morning handed me a notebook and said I could use this to write down anything that I was seeing. He also handed me the book, The Absorbent Mind. My training in Montessori had begun.
For a few years I came and went from this environment and then I married, traveled to South Carolina and began work in a Montessori school from 1984 - 1986. Then I returned back to our home state, had my first baby at home, and immersed myself in motherhood. After our second child was born in 1989 I began my work in childbirth education and attending births. I also continued making my journeys to the first Montessori school where I studied, and was soon after hired there. Beginning a decade of mentorship that, for me, is when my transformative inner preparation continued in deep ways. My desire to know myself through the study of the child was so strong, and continues to be my centering point.
Over the course of these years I did enter formal Montessori training, becoming credentialed in Early Childhood and Lower & Upper Elementary. I also became Head of School in the school that began in 1981, and I stayed there until 2013.
After leaving this school I trained to become a Montessori Parent-Infant and Child Facilitator and opened Ananda Montessori. I began classes in my home and then moved into a commercial space, right in the center of my town. Ananda is now in its tenth year as a community for children and adults. I also work as a Montessori consultant, parenting mentor, and offer a variety of courses, including a six-week online course to train to become a Montessori Parent-Infant and Child Facilitator.
As a Montessori parent and grandparent, what benefits have you seen in your own children that could be attributed to Montessori education?
In thinking about the benefits that I have observed, especially with my sons, two memories come to mind. The first is with our second son who attended Montessori until beginning in our local public school in grade 5. He thrived in school, bringing a sensing of himself that seemed to differ from other students and his friends. He brought himself to his studies by diving into this new experience. And yet, years later prior to graduation the students needed to prepare a portfolio for each year in school (as a self-reflection and gathering of material) and in his portfolio I made a discovery. I found a presentation that he had given in his final year about what he had learned through his studies at this school and he shared, in very respectful ways, that he really had not learned much that was new. Though his grades were wonderful and he enjoyed his social life, he said that in thinking back he discovered that his early years in Montessori had been his "Finishing School" and that the later years could not compare to what he had deeply learned earlier in life. A Finishing School is defined as a place where students are taught social courtesy and cultural traditions to prepare them for the future and for their life. So this is the child speaking to what he experienced, and reminds me of the potency of experiences in early life.
My second memory that rises (and there are so many) is with our older son who trained in Montessori and taught for over a dozen years. I held monthly parenting groups and he would attend as a staff member. One question that so many parents continue to ask is, "What happens to children after they leave Montessori?" During this particular group this question was asked and I asked my son if he would like to answer and he said, sure. His answer was, "They return." Which sounds simple but this answer spoke to the calling within him of memory of what Montessori was for him. To return to a house that he thrived in. To share what he knew in ways that I can never do, being an adult who did not attend Montessori as a child.
Other benefits that I see in all children is the ways that they coexist in community with others and with adults. There is a natural expression of respect between the child and adult, which is unique to other places where children are more isolated from adults or perhaps not as welcomed. I observe what I sense as feelings of acceptance, of being seen for who they are, and to be met there. Whether we are a child or an adult.
Your Montessori playgroups seem to be so successful. I have to admit that I look forward to seeing your updates on social media and I am always inspired by your space. I can tell how much thought and care you have put into the environment and the information you share. Can you tell a bit about how the playgroups started and how they are going?
Thank you for your kind words. As I mentioned earlier, I began my training to become a Parent-Infant and Child Facilitator as I left my school of many years, and it answered a calling in me to create an environment for the child and the adult. I have always had parents, grandparents, and family members throughout my school, and began monthly parenting groups in 1989. I wished to create a place where adults could immerse themselves in a living practice of Montessori, with their child or grandchild, and in community. I had not heard of these classes before, and yet this training fell into my lap out of the sky. So, I began.
Ananda Montessori started in my home, in the very room where I am writing to you, right now. I did not have a child or a family yet, but my husband and I took great care and with clear intention, we prepared this environment. Then a child came, an infant. We had a simple environment, a beautiful one, and Ananda grew as the number of children arrived. Like in a family. After four years we moved to our present space, which is in a storefront, in the center of town. I never would have envisioned this being in a commercial space, but it has worked well.
I now have all prenatal classes, parenting groups, Positive Discipline workshops, and Montessori Parent-Infant and Child classes at Ananda. Each day I have one or two classes per day and my class size is limited to ten children, and their parents/caregivers. Some classes are smaller than ten, and some children attend at Ananda two, three, or four days per week. It continues to grow, and as the children get older, there are siblings or new children entering. We have a lovely community for the adults and the children, which was my intention. Ananda is my space as a business, but it is the house of the child and adult. A child once said to me after being there for a number of years, "Oh, I know what this place is! It is a place for children and adults to learn together!" She was a keen observer.
What advice do you have for families that are interested in bringing the Montessori philosophy into their parenting and homes? Do you feel that it is ever too late to embrace the Montessori way of seeing children?
Montessori is a study of the child and of ourselves, I feel. When we discover this method, or it resonates with us, then we can begin at that time. The way of Montessori in seeing children is to see the child who is before us, no matter their age, nor ours. If you consider these as moments when you view a clearer version or vision of yourself, or your child, and that these moments may awaken new awarenesses or perceptions in you, then these are transforming experiences. They rely not on externals, but on how you bring yourself to what you are experiencing or observing. So there is no "too early" or "too late", and you begin with your choosing to explore,
As I touched on a bit, above, I believe that Montessori is an internal experience which is then expressed through our life. It is a living practice. In your home, if you are in the study of Montessori, then you begin to realize that this is a natural method which is shown to us by the interests and needs of our child. Some of the sensitivities or needs in children prenatally and up to age six or seven are: Language, Movement, Small Objects, Order, Refinement of the Senses, and Social Behaviors. I would add to these, freedom and independence. To bring focus to these periods, which overlap and spiral, is helpful in preparing the home environment. To observe your child is essential, and to bring observation to yourself and to your thoughts, feelings, reactions, actions, is the biggest part of observation.
In thinking about your own homes and each part of your environment (indoors, outdoors, internally) I would suggest looking at what you need as adults when you enter your house, what supports your independence and exploration, and consider these same needs for your child. To have a place to sit, to remove shoes or put them on, to have materials low, to hang mirrors for your child to see themselves, and to wonder in all spaces in your home, "What am I doing for my child that they can do for themselves?" This knowledge comes through observation, and seeing what your child is able to do. To give freedom and practice for your child to do as much as they can and to help as little as is necessary. To collaborate with your child from the beginning, in pregnancy. To be receptive to one another, to communicate, to see when your child has openness to being with you, and when they are in concentration or focused. What does this look like in your child? To not interrupt when this is happening, for any reason. To keep a journal or notebook to record what you are seeing happening, as well as your own responses, reactions, thoughts and feelings to what you are seeing. These are some ideas for you to consider.
As a follow up, I know you are passionate about childbirth and supporting parents with the experience of welcoming a baby into their home. What tips would you give to expectant or new families?
As parenting begins during pregnancy, then this is when you can begin preparation for birth, and for your postpartum months. There is much written by Maria Montessori on the time during pregnancy, preparing for birth, and the experiences of the mother and child. You can find passages in, The 1946 London Lectures, The Absorbent Mind, by Maria Montessori, as well as in the book, Understanding the Human Being: The Importance of the First Three Years of Life, by Silvana Montanaro, that speak to the prenatal and early life of the family. As well, there is the wonderful book, The Montessori Baby, by my dear friend, Simone Davies, that can be part of this preparation for birthing and parenting.
I would bring attention and intention to preparing for your birth, through your choices of where to birth, with whom, and to your birthing preferences. To bring reflection, again, to the idea that parenting begins in pregnancy, which sounds silly maybe, but it is common to think more about the future of having our baby, then it is to sit in the present moment reality of the ways that we can connect and communicate with our unborn child. You are in collaboration together to prepare for birthing. Isn't that a beautiful thought? Lastly, I would encourage you to contemplate for yourself in pregnancy, and for your partner to contemplate, what stories are held within each of you about pregnancy, about brith, about babies....which originate through your unique family histories. We hold these stories within us and we can listen to what they tell us with softness, and then begin to imagine and create our own stories.
Do you have a favorite Montessori material or activity?
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote? I have so many, but I find that they arrive to me as I am in need. So I will share a current one that has traveled to me.
"Love is more than the electricity which lightens our darkness, more than the etheric waves that transmit our voices across space, more than any of the energies that man has discovered and learned to use. Of all things love is the most potent."
Thank you so much, Pamela, for sharing your experiences and knowledge. I've learned so many new things about you and the beauty of Montessori.
Pamela offers courses, consulting, mentoring, groups, and more...find info here:
You can also learn more here:
Pamela is on Facebook at Ananda Montessori
You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In one week, on March 5th, Pamela's Montessori Parent-Infant and Child Facilitator Course, Spring 23, is starting! So, one more week for enrollments to come in. The page for this is