Spotlight MOMtessori Life
As we begin Summer, we couldn’t be more pleased to bring you this Spotlight of Angela Chang, trained Montessori guide turned “Stay-at-Home-MOMtessorian,” and author of MOMtessori Life. After all, just as much learning happens outside the classroom as within its walls.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
I went to school for Art History and thought I would end up working as a curator in a museum. Then I spent one summer actually working in a museum, and I couldn’t take the enclosed spaces with all white walls – there was no natural light there, and it felt almost claustrophobic. Luckily, I also worked at an art camp for kids that summer at the same museum, which is when I realized that I really wanted to work with children. When I graduated from college, I somehow found myself employed at a Montessori school in their toddler classroom. I loved it so much that I went on to receive my AMS 0-3 certification and taught in the classroom for 6 years before leaving to become a stay-at-home-MOMtessorian. I knew that there was no way I could leave Montessori behind, so we live a Montessori lifestyle at home with our two little girls. We are doing Montessori homeschool preschool for now, and we will see what we will do when they get a bit older. I write a blog (MOMtessoriLife.com) where I share our Montessori-inspired activities and way of life, and I also developed a Montessori Parenting E-Course for other parents who want to learn how to be Montessori at home.
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What’s your favorite color?
Haha, this is actually the hardest question for me – I don’t have favorites! I know, I know, it’s pretty strange. I like all colors, but I prefer deep, vibrant colors over pastels.
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
Gosh, more favorites?! I love to read, but I don’t have a favorite book – except for two of my favorite parenting books that really helped me see how to be a Montessori parent (as opposed to a Montessori teacher): The World of the Child, by Aline D. Wolf, and Understanding the Human Being: The Importance of the First Three Years of Life, by Silvana Quattrocchi Montanero, M.D.
“There were ten children between 1 ½ and 3 years old, and nobody needed me!”
Q: When you close your eyes late at night, and imagine waking up and starting a new adventure: what is that adventure?
I honestly couldn’t imagine doing anything other than what I’m doing now, but if I had unlimited means I would take our cultural studies on the road and really explore the continents with my girls. It would be amazing to actually become immersed in the different cultures of the world and truly learn from experience.
Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?
There’s just something different about Montessori kids – you can really see it when you’re around a bunch of toddlers who have been allowed to grow their independence and really have their own interests met. I didn’t grow up with Montessori, but when I first started working in the classroom, the Montessori ways used by the teachers just seemed natural to me. It all just makes so much sense!
Q: What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?
Take my Montessori Parenting E-Course! Haha, just kidding — kind of. Observe, observe, observe. When you simply take the time to observe, you can see exactly what your kids need, and then you can help provide it for them.
Q: Did you have a “Montessori Moment?”
I’ll never forget one day in my toddler classroom when everything just clicked. It was a couple of months into the school year, and all of a sudden there was nothing for me to do. Each child was absorbed in his own work – some at the table, some on work mats on the floor, but nobody needed me. There were ten children between 1 ½ and 3 years old, and nobody needed me! It was amazing.
Q: What’s your favorite Montessori quote?
There are so many good ones – this is why I can’t have favorites!
Favorite for parents: “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
Favorite for teachers: “The greatest sign of success for the teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’”
Favorite for why we do what we do: “Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.”
Q: What inspired you to share your Montessori story on your blog?
People asked me about it! I have always been committed to being Montessori at home, and people I knew started asking me about activities they could do with their own kids. I decided to put it all together to share with others since so many people seemed to be interested, and then it just kind of took off.
Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?
Get down on the floor and look at your home environment from the same vantage point as your young kids. Can they reach the things they need to be more independent? Toddlers infamously want to do things “by myself!” – so make sure they can do things by themselves successfully.
Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?
Observing a Montessori classroom would be a great introduction to Montessori for those who do not know much about it yet – especially at the toddler level. Children in Montessori toddler classrooms can do so much that is not normally expected of toddlers or even older children, and they LOVE doing it! It is truly amazing to see what goes on in there even when there are so many children all together. That was my introduction to Montessori, and that’s where I fell in love.
“There’s just something different about Montessori kids – you can really see it when you’re around a bunch of toddlers who have been allowed to grow their independence and really have their own interests met.”
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
Watching my girls as they strive for independence and the confidence that they gain from being able to do things for themselves inspires me to continue to give them this experience in our home. I also love how naturally progressive the Montessori materials are and how excited my daughters are when they make connections between the different work areas.
Q: In what ways do you envision the future of education?
I don’t know too much about the public school system, but there seems to be a lot of homework and testing going on even in the lowest levels of elementary school these days. I don’t know what that will look like in the future, but I hope that there will be a shift toward following the child and learning for the sake of learning rather than for certain letter grades or test scores – the way Montessori education is.
Q: Where do you see Montessori in the next 100 years?
I think the Montessori method is timeless because it is based upon the natural development of the child – so I don’t see that changing. I would love to see it embraced by more people as an amazing way to live and to educate, and less stereotyped as hippy/crunchy/strange.
Written by:Charlotte Wood