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Picture of one of the first graduates of the Montessori Sports Fundamentals course.

‘Just by changing my position, my children opened up a lot more’

Dec 21, 2020

Gillian Corke (39) was one of the first people who successfully completed the Montessori Sports Fundamentals course. The COVID-19 crisis changed her life, because it enabled her to further develop the Montessori way of thinking. In an interview with us she talks about this and how she experienced the course. 


Hi Gillian. First of all, congratulations on completing our course! Could you introduce yourself?

"Of course. My name is Gillian Corke. I live in Bath, in the South West of England. I am a mother of three, who are all in a Montessori childcare setting. I grew up swimming and dancing, and I was actually on my local nationals squad in swimming when I was young. It all went wrong when I broke my arm, but I was able to keep involved with some teaching. So, I have a personal background in sports. I have also been a violin teacher in traditional schools."


Before we move on to the questions about our course, how has the whole COVID-19 crisis impacted you so far?

"It has actually been a life-changing opportunity. So as a mainstream teacher I was used to 30 children in a classroom, dealing with all the violins and bows, grading, and everything. I knew that there were other ways of doing things and I knew that the Montessori system would suit my first child. So, having my children in a Montessori setting for four years now, I had to get rid of my own way of teaching. Because of COVID and having three children, I don't get to travel to London and take the Montessori courses. So, it's been amazing, because all of a sudden these courses appeared online and I was able to do them!"

"I first did the AMI 3-6 Assistant course, which was put online by the Maria Montessori Institute in London. This went so well, and I was so interested, that I continued and did the 6-12 Assistant course. After this I found out about the Montessori Sports course through the Facebook of AMI, where there was an early sign up. I immediately registered."


Why did you decide to take our course?

"Having a background in sports and having just completed the AMI Assistant courses, you put my two worlds together in one course. I also did a course at the Maria Montessori Institute back in February, which had to do with movements in the early years and how it allows the child to learn as he gets older. This was very interesting, so I also had that information in my head."


How did you experience the course?

"I thought it was really good. The material in the course, looking at the sports, the history of sports, and the traditional sports environment and then comparing it with the Montessori and its movement environment has been really good. The course really puts those two side-by-side and allows those of us with experience in both worlds to clearly see the different paths and how they can come together."

"Doing the Montessori Sports course has allowed me to be with my children and their friends and observe their movements from a developmental point-of-view. In a traditional sports environment, I might have said to the children: 'Alright, everyone stand up and we are going to do this.' And they would have done it and that would have been it. But after doing this course and learning the observational skills, I am now able to sit back and just observe, which has completely changed the way that the children are playing." (Read further for an example about this!)

"I also thought that the course was really accessible. It was very easy to do it on my terms. I don't have much free time during the day, so whenever I had a ten-minute time slot, I could watch a video. I also really appreciate that the videos were recorded, so that I could rewind and listen to it again. Even though it was in English, my first language, the material is so rich that I just had to listen to it again. It was also great that we could ask questions under the videos."


Was the content in the course difficult for you to follow?

"Once I made the mind shift from the traditional way of thinking to the Montessori way of thinking, it was not difficult at all. The content covered in the course is one of those things that you do not know is there, until someone says it. And then once someone says it, it actually makes a lot of sense."


How do you use your new knowledge in your interactions with children?

"One important thing is that I am now able to recognize when the children want and need to move. With everyone being so confined in their houses at the moment, it can be annoying for adults having small children running around. Because of your course, I now have the tools and the mental equipment to understand that they are not trying to destroy my house or drive me insane when they are active, but that it is a coordinated movement thing that needs to come out. So, then I prepare a space for them where they can move around."

"Another thing that has been great to see is the effect on the children when I take a step back when they are playing. For example, me and my husband have been going to the same park with the children ever since they were babies. So, they have the knowledge and the experience about what they can do in the park. While I was taking the Montessori Sports course, I took them to a park and sent them out to play. I said to them: 'I am just going to watch today.' This completely changed their way of interacting with the environment and with each other. They did things that they had never done before, they were stretching each other, and experimenting with stuff. It was really interesting to see that by just changing my position, my children opened up a lot more."

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