Audrey Lanj Casas
School Founder and Principal
If I had to sum up my school years in four words, I would say boredom, boredom, boredom and boredom! Minutes that lasted for hours and hours that lasted for months…
And the problem is that when you are bored, you don’t do anything well, and then you lose your self-confidence and everything becomes difficult and painful.
So I did what had to be done to pass onto the next grade and finish school as quickly as possible. Later on, I realized that we spend our childhood waiting to be an adult and then our adulthood looking for the carefree times of our childhood.
Then I wondered: But when do we really enjoy life? Can’t something be done to make things more enjoyable, to appreciate things and people – to be happier?
I kept that in mind… and became an artist. Songwriter, singer, voice-overs, film script writer… always with this search for meaning as a central thread to guide me… To guide me towards thoughts about education and the belief that nothing would ever change if the child as a whole is not considered.
And then I had two children…
When our son, Simon, turned 3, his dad and I dreamed of enrolling him in an alternative school, but the nearest Montessori school was full and the other ones were too far away to get to every day.
So we decided to send him to the local school, which was small and not very nice.
The first year went fairly well, even though Simon was a bit reluctant and kept on telling us how bored he was. It got really bad during the second year. After the Toussaint holidays, he started having anxiety attacks every morning, to the point that he could not go back to school.
He had school phobia: at the age of four!
Psychological tests showed he was a precocious child (panic on our side: what are the operating instructions for kids like that?!)
And then, once the storm had passed, we had to think about what environment we wanted to offer him so he could develop his potential and gain self-confidence.
It was clear that the Montessori pedagogy was the best option for him, as it would allow him to develop at his own pace. We contacted the schools around us, but as he was arriving in the middle of the 3-to-6 cycle and was four years old, we couldn’t find a spot for him anywhere.
We were desperate.
In the meantime, I read the fabulous book by Céline Alvarez, Les lois naturelles de l’enfant [The Natural Laws of the Child], I watched the excellent documentary Let the Child be the Guide, and of course I read the brilliant and amazing writings of Maria Montessori. My mind was made up: I had to open my own school! Simon’s experiences had to be turned into something positive and become the stimulus for building, change and moving forward!
I did some training and studied what was being done in Scandinavian schools to develop the most fulfilling educational approach, which I am very happy to offer you today:
100% bilingual Montessori environment with
- A major focus on the arts
Awakening of imagination, creativity, theatre, music, dance… so that the child can develop their skills to their fullest potential, not only intellectually but also physically and spiritually… And so that they gain the most precious thing: self-confidence.
- A daily learning session on happiness and empathy.
After all, isn’t this the most important thing?
Teaching them gratitude, self-confidence, generosity…
Isn’t that what we all dream of for our children?
Don’t we want them to be altruistic, at ease with others and with themselves so they can become exactly who they want to be and achieve great things?
At Montessori Bilingue Paris 17 School, each day starts with joyful music and time spent thinking about what it means to be happy, about what the children are thankful for in their life, on the qualities of their classmates, and on what each of them feels positive about in terms of themselves and the world…
Yoga and meditation _ are also offered to develop their awareness of all their inner resources and of the wonderful strength we all have in each of our cells.
The children are free to participate or not. If they are working on something else or just don’t feel like taking part in the activity, they will never be forced into it.
What Maria Montessori observed is that the desire to learn is the only means of learning.
But since freedom can only be experienced in a stable and secure environment, the rules of society and living in respect for others are fundamental.
I will add that, for me, the emotional bond is also crucial for the well-being of the child. We all had to deal with tyrannical teachers who turned piano lessons into nightmares.
And also, luckily, many of us had a revelation in French or Philosophy thanks to an amazing teacher!
That’s why I decided to choose the teaching staff very carefully, to ensure they are as competent as they are nurturing.
My goal is for each child to be considered as an individual, the only one of their kind, in a secure environment.
I want them to feel listened to, respected, and valued.
I want them to find welcoming arms when they need to be comforted.
I want them to be eager to learn and discover, at their own pace.
I want them to create bonds of friendship and cooperation with the other children.
I want them to laugh and have fun while learning.
In one word, I want them to be happy.