Céline, what kind of little muse are you?
I’m Céline Maisonneuve and I love nature and travelling. I’m passionate about new teaching, learning and education methods. I think of myself as a combination of Caroline Ingalls and Pierre Richard.
Where do you live?
I live in Amsterdam and love the canals, barges and the light you get here. It’s a really poetic city, full of detail, and you can get around it by bike in less than an hour, which is really great. I followed my partner here. We wanted to start a new adventure and Amsterdam came up as an interesting place to live. Once we got here, I realised that this was an opportunity to live in a country that respects children and family life.
Have you lived abroad before?
I had already lived abroad before during my wonderful student years in Oxford and Madrid, two amazing cities with two different cultures. I have a real soft spot for Spain and its gentle way of life. These experiences gave me a real feeling of confidence in life. I realised that you can be happy in a place you knew nothing and nobody six months previously.
How long have you been an expat?
We came to Paris 3 years ago with Jules and Iris, who were 5 and 3 years old. We found it fairly easy to settle as we had a nice apartment, a little countryside and lots of time for me and the children. I indulged myself in learning to play the piano, making cakes with the children, growing flowers and a vegetable garden. Coming from Paris, I really had to deprogram myself and listen to my dreams to make them happen. School went well too and our family life was both settled and engaging.
The only downsides I can think of are the weather and the language. I often feel like I’m at sea when I’m riding my “bakfiet” bike into the wind and in the driving rain to get to school. The Dutch language is also a challenge. Even when ordering a coffee, it isn’t easy. Every time the waiter or waitress understands me I feel like hugging them and feel like the Gods have blessed me.
You’ve started a new project by following your partner over here.
How did you get the idea for this?
I created the site “ Learn while having fun ”, to help adults who are bringing up children. Every child is intelligent but school and “traditional” education can damage their momentum and natural curiosity. So, we can help them to learn and develop their intelligence through different learning methods. As Einstein said: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid”.
Why did you choose a blog on the theme of positive education?
I believe I’ve always been sensitive towards others. As a child, I was shocked by the completely irrational abuse of power that adults used against children. There was so much stress at school and you were frightened of appearing stupid, frightened of being told off. There was also a lot of competition. This then continued into working life. Why do we allow ourselves to be taken hostage? Today, the example of Nordic countries, alternative schools and cognitive studies all go to show that it’s important to emphasise happiness and give life its true meaning. Creating a great relationship with your child is essential for him or her. Allowing a child to grow up with confidence and at their own place means they can find out who they really are and develop their talents while recognising the talents of others and working together to understand that everyone has their own vision and tries their best, defending what they consider to be important, with a global vision of themselves, others, society and nature.
How do you organise your activities around your personal life?
“When you have children, life is short”. This saying is even more true in the Netherlands where children come home from school at 3.15pm. As we are French, we like to eat and cook fresh produce and there’s the headache of the lunch box to prepare (there’s no canteen in the Netherlands!). As the years have gone by, I’ve become more relaxed about things: I do some things once every two days (I bet you’d like to know what these are), or I cook larger quantities (I deserve the Nobel Prize, don’t I?). This means you can save time and stay in a good mood. We try to spend some quality time together before going to sleep, we read and generally mess around on the bed. Sometimes, the children put on a show for us. At 7.30pm the gong rings to start the second part of the day!
So you’re a very busy “Mompreneur”?
I like this image as it symbolises a mum who is really engaged in what she does and is busy with all kinds of things. Mums who are entrepreneurs enjoy an interesting mix of being super-organised with a large dose of the unknown that can often come with having children.
Can you share an “instant moment of happiness” with us?
Having a coffee on Monday morning in the Amstelveld square, after a look around the little flower market or being with my friends! When I fall asleep with my children, I’m really happy. I love having big meals at the weekends and spending quiet time at home with my children and husband. I adore the florentines from the Van Soest confectionary shop and it’s fantastic when the sun comes out!!!!
Can you share a little “home-made” secret with us?
I love the artist Hervé Tullet for children. He uses primary colours and has a playful, slightly mad approach, with amazing creativity! DIY for young children is just as wonderful as it is for older people.
What do you like to go out and do in terms of culture at the moment, either alone or with your family?
I really likeStedelijk, , which has a café and a shop; I go there often just to enjoy the atmosphere. They also have a great “Family Lab” and children can interact with the exhibitions and have fun. There’s also a great museum at Haute Véluwe, theKroller museum
…. attractive, interesting and fun for children. The nature park that surrounds it is amazing, with forests, wetlands and sand.
Time for a bit of culture: Can you quote one of your favourite books or paintings?
I love the live and surprising aspects of art. I really like the artist Sophie Calle, who takes monochrome photos of meals, or her meetings when she invites people she doesn’t know to spend the night with her at the top of the Eiffel Tower. There’s also JR , who paints magnificent face portraits, which he then prints and sticks onto buildings in various districts. I love entertaining books that are full of surprises, like the Typoésie of Jérôme Peignot and the Poemotions of Takahiro Kurashima. I also love the portraits of Titouan Lamazou who combines history, photography, painting and sometimes newspaper cuttings …His collection of portraits of Women Around the World is really superb.
Celine, can you tell me about your project dedicated to children’s development?
My project focuses on helping adults and children to connect with their deepest desires and talents. Children learn best and far more naturally when these two areas converge.
I could see how certain changes impact upon the daily lives of families and childhood development and really wanted to share this. As a result, I created the site “Learn while having fun”;. On the other hand, last year I launched “Lessons on various themes”, workshops that aim to surprise and globally awaken children as they learn about themselves, others and nature.
Currently, I’m launching online children’s workshops called “The explorers”. These are Montessori-inspired creative activities that can be downloaded. In addition to the articles, there’s an educational element and a methodology that offers support to parents and teachers. The reality is that we weren’t automatically blessed with positive education when we were young and transitioning has been a real challenge.
How did you develop your company and what teaching methods do you support?
I created my business after taking voluntary redundancy, which was perfect for me. When setting out to discover this “new” field, I searched for people and schools that inspired me the most (the Living School, Ken Robinson, Sophie Rabhi, Antonella Verdiani).
I attended multiple training sessions and meetings and worked on many projects. All along, I had the wonderful feeling that I was ploughing the right furrow. I found the atmosphere in schools to be very vibrant. There was so much life, colour and empathy towards children. To take my project to the next level, I spent a few months in a co-working space called the “Laptop”, a renovated, quiet building comprising former workshops, which is where I became acquainted with the world of entrepreneurs and freelancers.
What do you gain from your experience on a professional level and settling into the country?
Finally achieving what we love is a great opportunity that really frees up our time.
This is vital when you’re a parent. I think that coming to a new country really gives you a boost. Obviously, we didn’t have any kind of network at the start, but this quickly changes, especially with Facebook groups and events, particularly in the Netherlands where there are so many opportunities!
Can you summarise your professional journey…?
My degree is from Centrale Lyon and ESCP-Europe. For ten years, I worked as a project manager, business manager, and product manager for a large company. Like many people, I chose the studies my parents recommended with all their good intentions. Although I dreamed of subjects like languages, education, drawing, ethnology, psychology, I ended up doing sup. Maths and special maths and then went to engineering school so I’d have “options”afterwards. The reality was that I could barely connect a toaster and was overdosing on equations and chemistry formulas.
I suffered in silence but had a great time too. Also, there are other more serious problems in the world. However, finding self-fulfilment is a fundamental need that’s often underestimated in France. Once you start to listen to yourself and have the right level of self-esteem to fulfil your desires, life starts to make you feel good! This is the message I want to convey to children and parents. A huge thank you Adeline for these interviews! You’re part of the wonderful encounters I have on here.