Describe what you do at Monti Kids.
Working with Monti Kids, I have the opportunity to meet and support others who love Monti Kids as much as I do! Building community through classes, conferences, social media engagement, etc. has become one of my favorite things about my job.
Something about you that might surprise others?
In college, I majored in Russian history and lived and worked there for 6 months! I love reading Russian literature and even read Crime and Punishment in Russian. I remember when I first realized I was becoming somewhat proficient in the language when I was bargaining in Russian at a flea market in Moscow :)
What inspired you to become a Montessori teacher?
After living and working in Morocco as a Youth Development Peace Corps volunteer, I recognized that my passion was working with, not only young children, but also their families and other educators. I realized the importance of a child’s first years of life, the impact it has on shaping their entire self and life, and the need to spread this knowledge to others. I then found Montessori, and it was as though a lightbulb went off! I felt as though everything I had observed and experienced was now explained. I love that in a Montessori environment, if a child is behaving challengingly or struggling, the problem is never the child. Instead, we have to figure out why and how the environment is not responding to the child’s needs and how to best adapt it to answer the child’s inner teacher.
Left: Monti Kids team, Kristien Alquero and Bérénice Saint-Saëns with their AMI 0-3 Montessori training diplomas. Right: Berenice and Kristien with their end of the year projects at Montessori teacher training.
Top Montessori tip for parents.
Set your limits and stick to them. The concept of freedom within limits is so powerful. Remember to adjust your limits and environment as your child conquers their freedom.
One thing about Montessori everyone should know?
Montessori is a way of life. As adults, we can apply the concepts of the prepared environment and mindful learning and observation to our everyday lives. I often take a step back and reflect on the way I am living. When I am not practicing self-care (care of the adult) or properly preparing my home environment, I feel unbalanced. Sometimes, my boyfriend reminds me about the importance of the prepared environment and being orderly and consistent when I continuously put the peanut butter back in the wrong cabinet ;)
Words you live by.
“I don’t care about age very much. I think back to the old people I knew when I was growing up, and they always seemed larger than life.”- Chinua Achebe
Above: Bérénice presenting the flower arranging activity in her Montessori toddler classroom.
What does Monti Kids mean to you?
Community and support! I have learned so much from Monti Kids, and I love how we create and support communities in so many different capacities. When I was teaching in a Montessori classroom, I loved being able to recommend Monti Kids to my students’ families. Bridging the gap between home and school helped to further strengthen the children’s development and create a stronger connection between their home and school life.
When do you feel like the best version of yourself?
When I’ve gone to yoga, discussed Montessori theory, laughed and danced a lot, played with my puppy and spoken French all in one day :)
What gets you excited to come to work every morning.
I really like learning about other people, what they do, where they’re from, etc. It is so much fun to realize how small the world is and to find connections with every new person I meet! I consider myself a very shy person, yet when I am speaking about Montessori or Monti Kids, I find that my shyness quickly fades away.
Also, when I was in the classroom, I realized that I found my most joy when engaged in parent education. I love that Monti Kids understands and focuses on the importance of supporting and guiding families.
Bérénice manages the Monti Kids Affiliate Program where she builds our partnerships and community through events, classes and communications. While in University, Bérénice studied Russia history and worked in the Ural Mountains with underserved children of the region. After graduating, she joined the Peace Corps and lived and served as a youth development volunteer in a rural village in Morocco for two and a half years. After returning to the United States, she recognized that her passion was working with, not only young children, but also their families and other educators. She realized the importance of a child’s first years of life, the impact it has on shaping a child’s entire self and life, and the need to spread this knowledge to others. She then discovered Montessori, received her International Montessori teacher certification and has helped guide children 0-3 years old and their families. She is in the final stages of her Masters of Education and is also a trained doula.