About Us

The Independent Child was formed in 2014 as a consulting platform for renowned Montessori educator Ferne van Zyl, with the aim to help parents nurture the inborn drive of every child to discover their “I can do it!” moments. She focuses on the fundamental principles of childhood development, providing practical guidance and support to parents and educators through workshops, individual consultations and mentoring for parents and educators of young children from birth to 6 years and older. 

About Ferne


Ferne hails from a very large, internationally based family and can’t remember a time when little children have not been a part of her life.  While bringing up her own 4 children she fostered children from disadvantaged backgrounds, ran a home based family day care, and facilitated programs for babies and toddlers at church.  

In 2002 she obtained the AMI Montessori Assistants to Infancy Diploma and over the next decade owned and operated Down Under 3, a Montessori based learning centre for babies and toddlers based on Sydneys' North Shore. Through her work with parents and carers she began facilitating the hugely successful Faber and Mazlish parent workshops “How to Talk so Kids will Listen”, and “Siblings without Rivalry” as well as developing a “Toileting Independence” workshop which earned her the nick-name “The Poo-Poo Guru”.

Ferne currently consults to parents, early childhood educators and Montessori organisations around Australia and New Zealand.  She has provided training and support for hundreds of families on setting up environments for independence, effective communication skills and practical strategies for dealing with challenging behaviour. 

In 2016/17 she was part of the AMI team who were involved in mentoring the Montessori educators of the “Strait Start” programs in the Torres Straits and as well as the Koolkan Early Childhood Centre in Aurukun. Her personally developed Supporting Freedom and Self-Discipline workshop was presented in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Auckland