Milli, originally from Northamptonshire in the UK came to Spain 5 years ago. She has settled in a village just outside of Barcelona with her Spanish husband and young daughter and is setting up a day care centre in her own home. In Spain she is known as a Madre de Día.
Through my studies of brain development, psychology and pedagogy I came to realise that the early years are the most important in a child’s development and I found this fascinating. I wanted to find out more about babies’ incredible capacities and work in the early stages of life, where it really makes a difference.
I took a year out to travel with my husband, and having no ties we decided to go to Spain to see more of Victor’s family as he had been in England for 10 years. We first lived in Valencia but we had good friends in Barcelona and had visited the city many times. We always had a good time here and loved the atmosphere. It was also a matter of employment. Although I found plenty of British schools in Valencia, there was little work for Victor so we decided to move here. I found a lot of British schools who wanted native English teachers so it was easy for me to find work here. Eventually I found Kinder, a bilingual nursery school in Barcelona that I loved. I had a wonderful time teaching there.
I decided to start a new project at home this year, as we bought a house with a lovely little garden where I thought I could offer quality care to a very small group of children. There we have made a sandpit, planted natural grass, herbs, vegetables and trees, we have a siesta room and a lovely light living room. I am offering a full immersion in English. I want to meet the demand for English speaking childcare as both the local and international community in Barcelona recognise the importance of English in our current global climate.
My aim is that Milli’s Garden incorporates the best and most significant of pedagogical methods along with my experience of the everyday trials and triumphs in a child’s life. I am drawing upon the natural and mathematical resources of Montessori education, the importance of rhythm, art and imagination in Steiner practise, the importance of the outdoor experience in British education and motor development and movement from the work of Emmi Pikler. With these building blocks I want to create a loving and respectful environment where every child can be him/herself, and feel supported so that they can discover and grow at their own pace. For the children who join us, Milli’s Garden is a home from home where they can be comfortable, relaxed and find their own space.
A Madre de Día is a qualified educational/psychological/pedagogical practitioner who takes care of children from 0-6 years old in their own adapted and equipped home. As more people are interested and get involved, more associations are forming in various parts of the country. At the moment this type of daycare is relatively unknown in Spain but I am confident that it is becoming more popular as the government recognises the need for regulations, which will be warmly welcomed by Madres de Día and their associations. This means better recognition and trust from families.
The associations Red de Madres de Día and LLars de Criança here in Cataluña provide a lot of information and training to help set up a business. I follow all the guidelines stipulated by the associations including instillations, prices, qualifications and adult/child ratios. There are plenty of social networks that have been interested in my project and so far I have had a lot of positive feedback. I have enjoyed setting up the space, the garden, the toys and resources that I want to use. Overall it has been a wonderful experience.
I will have a maximum of 3 children at any one time, which for me means better quality of care. I am able to observe the children and meet their authentic needs. It allows me to support the children in their own journeys and make sure they have a fluid space that adapts to their interests and requirements. The small group also means that the families experience a personalised, flexible service. I can adjust the timetable, meetings calendar etc. easily to accommodate the needs of the families. I also offer the opportunity for a long adaptation period, where the parent/caregiver can accompany the child in Milli’s Garden.
I consider the relationship with parents/caregivers absolutely vital. From the onset the parents/caregivers need to be completely comfortable with their choice of care, as their confidence is reflected in their children. I would like parents/caregivers to play an active role in the adaptation of the child to the space as it is important for me that the child feels secure in their environment. For this reason I am offering a week free of charge, where the families can accompany the child in Milli’s Garden. This extra time accompanied by an adult reference will help the children in their adaptation. Daily open dialogue is essential in ensuring the child’s emotional and physical wellbeing. I would also like to offer support to the family in any way I can and offer the families meetings outside of the children’s timetables.
For me the key is respect: respect for the families and the way they decide to raise their children, respect for the children and who they are, and respect for the pace in which every child develops.
For more information:
Red Madres de Día España
Llars de Criança Associació de Mares de Dia
Madres de Día Barcelona]]>