A chat with Montessori enthusiast Sandra Kermode

A chat with Montessori enthusiast Sandra Kermode

Sandra Kermode does intuitive healing and coaching for women who are ready to stop looking to others for approval and validation and finally trust themselves. She has over eight years of experience supporting families, teachers and children to feel more purpose, joy and connection in their lives. Follow her journey on Instagram @sandrakermode

Describe what you do as a heart-centered coach.

I guide adults using the Montessori philosophy… think of it as Montessori for adults. Giving adults that same love, empathy and respect that we give children. I’ve found in my work over the years that we don’t do that enough for ourselves or for one another as adults. So I trust in the adult in the same way that we are asked to trust in the child. I see part of my work as supporting adults to trust in themselves again… something that children seem to do naturally.

Being a heart-centered coach shows up in my work in different ways. It may look like:  

  • How I guide women in sessions to help them reclaim their inner knowing instead of feeling that they are being told how to parent, lead or live. I’m really applying the Montessori philosophy to adults here.
  • Going to those “uncomfortable conversations” that we tend to avoid with others like where are fears show up in our parenting or work with children.
  • Coming into my work without judgement or shame which is something that I have spent a lot of time working on (and still work on), because some of those judgements are really ingrained in us.  
  • How I show up for myself every single day. I am a big believer in taking care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Not only so I can support the families and educators I work with, but so I can show up that way for my friends and family too. We have to practice what we preach in that sense.

What are some tips for a parent new to Montessori?

  • Give your child real experiences. When there is a choice between looking at photos on an iPhone or letting your child play with a scarf or a leaf, choose the real option.
  • Take time to reflect each day solo or with a partner or caregiver. What interactions felt good in the day? What moments felt like you were really “following the child?” What moments felt frustrating or difficult?
  • Shifting to a Montessori mindset takes times because we didn’t necessarily grow up with this way of thinking about children and child development. Be patient and kind with yourself.
  • Don’t compare your Montessori journey with another parent’s journey.

Related: What makes a toy Montessori?

“We always have choices. We are never stuck.”

Words you live by?

At the moment… We always have choices. We are never stuck. So when things feels tough or overwhelming, we know that there’s more than one way to get to the same place or get the same result with ourselves, our families and our children.

What is the biggest challenge for parents today?

Isolation and disconnection in the different forms that it takes… That may look like not having a strong community around you of parents that parent in a similar way to you. That may look like disconnection from one another as a family in a home while there is connection taking place between screens and devices. In-person and online community has amazing benefits for all of us and I believe is especially important for families. It’s important to know that you have a community around you, because it does take a village. Raising children is serious work and trying to do it completely solo without support from friends, services like Monti Kids, family, neighbors, caregivers or whoever you feel comfortable with makes it that much more difficult.

“Staying centered in the middle of chaos is taking care of yourself every single day and making your health and wellness a priority.”

How do you stay centered in the middle of chaos?

In the long run, I’ve found that it’s not about staying centered in the middle of chaos… I don’t ever quite feel that is possible like there is a trick to make everything feel ok. I remember trying to come up with these solutions when in the school setting.

The main answer that I’ve found to staying centered in the middle of chaos is taking care of yourself every single day and making your health and wellness a priority. There was probably a moment in my life when I would have laughed at the person who said this… But I know it’s possible because I see so many people around me doing it with and without children. I know parents who meditate every morning while their toddler hangs out next to them. I know couples who take turns watching the kids so they can do their daily workout that helps ground them. I know moms, who cook with their kids most nights, because that is what they need to do to make sure that everyone eats a healthy meal. I am not saying any of this is easy, but I believe it’s how we can stay centered and grounded when chaos ultimately hits.

I also find that having actual tools during chaotic moments is really helpful. That may look like taking some super deep belly breaths, simply laughing at the situation because what else can you do when there is poop everywhere or stepping away for a moment to allow yourself to feel your feelings. It’s awesome to have tools to lean on during these moments and then share with your children, letting them know that, “When I feel ___, it helps me to do ____.” That’s some serious helpful modeling for kids that supports them in the long run! And I believe that we can communicate in this way from day 1.

What are 3 simple ways parents can bring more purpose, joy and connection into their home now?

  1. I’m all about taking small realistic steps and making shifts over time. Ask yourself what is currently taking away joy in your home as a parent. Jot down a quick bulleted list.
  • What is adding to that feeling of maybe disconnection or feeling spread too thin?
  • What comes to mind immediately?
  • Is it the morning routine?
  • Is it not getting those sacred 15 minutes for yourself before bed time?
  • Is it that cell phone or screen that seems to come between you and your partner?
  • What is contributing to the feeling of disconnection?

2. Once you have pinpointed what is at the top of that list, it’s about addressing those frustrations, situations or themes so you can bring more purpose, joy and connection into your home, your family life and your personal day-to-day.

3. What’s the smallest next step that you can take to address each of those 3 areas?

  • Does it look like having a conversation on screen time at home, so that you can protect family time?
  • Does it look like letting your partner know that the morning routine has been creating feelings of being spread thin and then taking it from there?
  • Or does it look like making time for yourself before bed a priority over answering emails or doing laundry?

It’s all about realistic and small changes that we can be consistent with over time. And it’s often a result of making time to check-in, reflect, communicate and meet your needs, not only as a parent but as a human being.

What do you love about working with families?

It’s awesome to have honest and real conversations with parents. To go deeper and have those real conversations about punishment & reward, what independence at home looks like for children or why setting limits within in the context of freedom feels overwhelming. We dig into Montessori in really tangible ways and it’s those conversations that then support parents to really embrace the materials and the philosophy.

Without that understanding of their own story and why they want to parent in this way, the materials can just become things (another great reason to watch the Monti Kids videos a few times and really let the content sink in). I love working with parents and helping them understand the philosophy in a deeper way where it goes past using the materials or having the house set up perfectly, but really getting on board with the Montessori way.

What does Monti Kids mean to you?

Monti Kids is incredible. There are not really Montessori materials out there for the early years. It’s hard. You have to make them… I mean trying to buy Montessori gifts for friends was near impossible. I would spend hours making a Gobbi mobile and my friend’s baby would be past that developmental stage by the time I was done! I’m a slow mobile maker!

Related: See what's in the Monti Kids Level 1 box, including a Gobbi mobile!

Monti Kids has done a fantastic job at creating these beautiful materials and then providing the knowledge we receive in our training. It’s easy to digest and light. It’s not overwhelming for parents who often have two full time jobs (being a parent and going to work).

I also love that Monti Kids makes Montessori accessible that first year of life that so often gets overlooked in the Montessori world. Parents typically find Montessori once their child is 2 or 3 years of age. They hear about a great Montessori school in their area or they are wowed by the way their friend’s children are able to play at a get together (I used to hear this one a lot in Admissions) and that’s awesome.

I think finding Montessori at any stage is better than never, but I do love that Monti Kids promotes starting Montessori from birth! The first 3 years of life are so crucial to a child’s development and truly laying the foundation for a child’s life.

Monti Kids really does help parents bring Montessori into their homes and that is incredible because this philosophy and the science behind this approach is a game changer for children and for families!

ABOUT MONTI KIDS: Our carefully curated subscription boxes deliver the right toys at exactly the right time for your baby. Learn more about how we enable Montessori learning at home.

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