Mon Tipi Montessori is a great new place for children from 6 months to 8 years located in Cugneaux (inside the Théâtre des Grands Enfants). As the name already indicates, it is an activity space for children following the Montessori approach. Depending on the age of the children there are different activities.
The space and the materials are amazing. There is a lot of room to explore and move around freely.
I have met Sylvaine Boussatha, the owner and founder of Mon Tipi Montessori and talked to her about her new project.
Who is behind this great project? Can you tell us more about yourself?
Mother of 3 children, I became a teacher in 2001 in Paris. At the end of 2007 we decided to move to Munich. There, I became a teacher at the French kindergarten, where I worked with a German caretaker in pairs in my class. Germany is much more advanced than France in terms of alternative pedagogies, and the Montessori method is very common in their kindergarten. My colleague was herself in Montessori training and I was interested more and more in this pedagogy. The French system no longer suited me, and I felt that my pupils did not necessarily flourish in this rigid system. I then trained and implemented the method in my class, trying to convince the administration and reluctant parents.
In summer 2017, we had to move back to France, due to my husband’s job and I decided to continue in this direction, by opening this “after-school” activity centre, trying to accommodate children in a Montessori atmosphere, for those who do not have the chance to be enrolled in this kind of school, as they are still rare in the region.
Why Montessori? What do you like about her approach?
As I explained previously, the classical education system in France no longer suited me as a teacher.
What I liked about the Montessori method is that it is a benevolent method that promotes autonomy, respects the development of each child according to his own intrinsic rhythms and motivations; the child is not abrupt, he is an explorer who thinks by himself, and this self-motivation develops self-confidence.
I was fascinated by the sensory, aesthetic material, which develops a specific skill each time. I love to see children manipulate this material, which gives them a lot of enthusiasm.
Is every child „compatible“ to the Montessori education?
To answer to this recurring question, let us go back a few years: as part of her medical studies at the end of the 19th century, Maria Montessori began working with “deficient” children in a psychiatric hospital. By adapting her posture, being attentive, caring and respectful, and then offering them educational material that met their needs, she saw tremendous progress at home. Later, she opens the first “Children’s House” in a poor neighborhood of Rome and continues her work by deepening her educational research. The material she was putting in place is still used in schools today. She saw great progress in these children who achieved excellent results, often better than those of neighboring schools. She wondered then what would be the results of that method to children without difficulty!
Today, the Montessori method is not a miracle method that comes down to adapted material, but it is above all the posture of the adult towards the child that is essential, his knowledge of the child and its different sensitive periods, because not all are passionate about the same thing at the same time.
The question, therefore, is not whether this or that child is compatible with the Montessori method, but rather the opposite: it is up to us to adapt to each child who is unique, in order to bring out his intelligence, and if the educator adapts his posture to everyone, which is peculiar to Montessori pedagogy, this method is then adapted to all.
How does a typical session look like?
Before the age of 3, sessions last one hour and one or both parents stay with their child during the workshop. Parents and children take off their shoes, and the child freely explores the room and the equipment at his disposal. The child is invited to use his equipment on a small individual rug and store it in his place after each use, before leaving to another. I remain at the parents’ disposal for questions, or the use of certain materials. There is also a dedicated space for motricity activities adapted from 6 months.
Beyond the age of 3, children stay alone with me, except in case of specific need (difficult separation, disability …). The sessions last 1h30, during which I propose to the children to manipulate the material which is arranged according to specific fields: practical life, sensory life and discovery of the world, written and oral language, mathematics. Sometimes I show them an activity, but I also observe them a lot, to know when such and such material could meet their needs of the moment.
I hope you are as excited as me about this great new project!
All the best,