Our Schoolhouse Interview with Ladybirds Playgroup!

If you're an English-speaking mom in Rome, one of the first good pieces of advice you received when you got here was probably to stop by the Ladybirds playgroup...that is, at least, my story. I can say they live up to their reputation. Check out our interview with Shannon, boss lady at the Ladybirds, to find out about their fantastic playgroups and more!

Name: Shannon Fisher

How long has Ladybirds been in existence?
Ladybirds has been in Rome for 13 years

What's the backstory behind it?
Well, the legend as I heard it is a group of lovely British ladies rolled out a carpet in the church crypt to drink tea while their little ones played at their feet. Bless them...

How did you come to hold the all-important Boss Ladybug position?
I had attended Ladybirds for only a few months when I learned the director was moving back to America. I threw my hand in the air and started screaming, "Oh me, me, me! Let meeeeee do it!" I was in love with the birds on my first visit. I mean - drinking coffee with a bunch of moms that speak our glorious language while our children entertained themselves for a change? In love!

When do you guys meet?
We have two morning groups from 10 - 12 on Wednesdays and Fridays. We also have an afternoon group that meets from 16 - 18 on Mondays.

What does a normal playgroup day look like?

We start at 10:00 and while we wait for people to arrive, the children have snacks. Around 10:30 we start "circle time" where we sing our songs in English while the children play instruments. After circle time we indulge in a very simple, low mess craft if people want to participate. If not, there are lots of toys for the kids and treats for the moms.

The cost is always 5 euro for each child while adults are free. There are no upfront costs or registration fees. Just show up and throw 5 euro in the box.

Tell us about some of the exciting things you guys have planned.

We have our Costume Party on the 30th of October from 17 - 19 at All Saints Church. Toddler crafts, games, and lots of yummy treats.

How did you hear about The English Schoolhouse?
I received an email about the school and I remember saying...Yes, yes, yes! This is what Rome needs! It is a method of teaching that to my knowledge doesn't exist here and it should.

What I love about working with you is that it feels like home. It's so refreshing to be around people who spread the word not because they want something in return, but because they genuinely like the idea of what they're sharing. I really appreciate you, the Ladybirds playgroup, & the support you've given right from the start.
Now the fun stuff...

You're a mama. What's your favorite part about parenting in Rome? What's your least favorite part?

I have a two year old daughter and I must say that I am thrilled about her booming social life. Children in Rome and the parents too - have so much contact with each other. I agree that it is difficult to not have a backyard when you live in the city - but we are forced to spend our mornings and afternoons in the park or the piazzas. We have a really large group that we see everyday and have become close to. I think it is good for her. I imagine in America, you can spend the whole day puttering about the house and realize neither of you have chatted with another soul all day. Of course my least favorite part is the lack of options available to parents. I mean seriously - where do I take this kid on a rainy day???!! This 2,000 year old city was not built with my child in mind.

You just spent the summer in the states. What do you miss the most and what do you not miss at all?

Julia was in heaven in the states and so was I. When I am there, I tend to miss it all. Outside of my family who I miss terribly - I would have to confess to something that would enrage any right minded Italian. I miss the food and shopping in America. Terrible, eh?
Not at all!

Your ideal place for raising kids-Italy or America or somewhere else and why?

My American mamma friends have concluded that America is ideal for young childhood and Italy is ideal for adolescence. I think I have to agree with that.
Oooooh that's so true! What I wouldn't give to have a Target run this morning and soccer practice (driven to in my SUV) this weekend!

Recommendation for a great date night out?

Blah...Get my kid to sleep and then I will go on a date night.
Point taken.

Last book you read?
I am reading Gone Girl. I like it so far.
When you finish that, try Zadie Smith's White Teeth. It's The English Schoolhouse Book Club's pick this month and it's fantastic.

What website do you waste the most time on?
Pinterest sucks me in and I have a hard time clawing my way out.
I have that same issue.

What are you planning to do for school preschool (materna) for your little one who's now a toddler?
*hypnotizing you through the computer to answer The English Schoolhouse!* lol.

I would love to send her to you! The approach you use is one I admire and I am certain you are the only one offering it here. Can I come and hold her hand during class? You wouldn't judge me.
Uh, Shannon...we don't, like, do inserimento. It's an American school. I can be persuaded with brownies, though.

Like us, you don't send your little one to school yet. Why not?

Ahhhh....I wish I could log the hours spent pondering this little puzzle. It is a hard question, isn't it? There is so much pressure to send children to school when they are ONE YEAR old and frankly - I don't wanna. It certainly doesn't please the old ladies in the piazza, but really - in the end....this girl is going to roll her eyes at me and say "stop embarrassing me, mom" soon enough. I want as much of her as I can get when I can get it.

Do you cook, and if so do you have a quick recipe you'd like to share?
Cook? Yeah - I cook whatever gets boiled, burnt or dehydrated on the stove while Julia tugs at my leg. I must say, my man is looking rather lean these days.

Anything else you want to add?
Yes, join our mailing list so you can hear about our special events. Even if your child is in asilo - our Monday afternoon group is a good option. 

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