Montessori learning through The children’s house
Every child is unique and is filled with an enthusiasm to explore the world around them. Each day in a child’s life is filled with the curiosity to learn something new. Hence, it is important that they find a caring environment that guides them on their individual path and inculcates a love for learning in them. This can only happen in a prepared environment where the child gets to work with materials that entice and engross his mind.
The children’s house recognises the uniqueness of your child and is as passionate about your little one as you are. Children in their first stage of development from 0 to 6 years are like learning sponges. They have incredible powers of absorption and every new thing that they experience during the early years is crucial for their physical, social, emotional and intellectual development.
Creating a loving and secure environment
The children’s house focuses on getting it right from the very beginning. We understand that your child needs to go through a separation from the caregiver in order to socialise and enter into a new routine of going to school. Hence, the Infant and the Pre-tots programme aim to provide a secure and loving environment for your child through a foundation of Caregiving, Play and Attachment in the curriculum.
While caregiving ensures respectful and responsive interactions with the infants and pre-tots, play greatly helps the children learn unconsciously. The programme includes engaging activities like Tots Art, Tots Music, Tots Read, Tots Gym, Tots Sensory Play and Sunshine Tots. Through a wide range of interesting activities, your child will acquire cognitive abilities, language skills, improved physical abilities, social and emotional skills required to be an active part of this world. Every activity is designed exclusively to stimulate the curiosity of your little ones as he progresses to the Toddler age group.
A child-centred approach to education
The environment at The children’s house is completely centred around your child. The Montessori method of teaching at Toddler, Preschool and Kindergarten levels provide a nurturing and non-competitive environment that focuses on the individual needs and development of every child. The school ensures that your child gets all the care and attention by keeping low teacher child ratios coupled with well-planned classrooms to avoid overcrowding. Trust is fostered through care and participation in activities like putting away toys and returning materials back to their places.
It encourages self-education, where children learn in a prepared environment, that provides them with activities and presents opportunities for exploration, investigation and problem-solving. Children are given the freedom to choose their activity and have the responsibility of returning the materials to their places. These experiences not only give the child a sense of security but also stimulate intelligence and promote physical and psychological development. Their natural desire to succeed is encouraged by repetitive activities which help them perfect the art until they achieve a great sense of satisfaction and joy.
Learning through a variety of engaging materials
Children are provided with an encouraging environment with materials aimed at covering all areas of development. The didactic apparatus is specially designed for every level of childhood development. They start from being simple and gradually move on to more complex materials. For example from colour box 1 (primary colours) for level 1 to colour box 2 (secondary colours) for level 2 and colour box 3 (shades of secondary colours) for level 3. In this way, children learn to advance smoothly from one level to another without being perplexed by missing links.
Programmes at every level in The children’s house aim to prepare your child for a smooth transition to the next level. Each activity is carefully designed to enhance the all-round development of your child. Given the fact that 90% of the brain development of a child happens before the age of five, it is important to understand that preschool is much more than just playing. Children start with concrete experiences and move on to abstract at a later stage. Concrete thinking is important for mental development as it provides a base for abstract thinking. Concrete experiences not only give children the ability to reason beyond limits but also help them interpret better.
Rich learning experience through Montessori
By working independently on a wide variety of materials in a Montessori environment, children learn to make choices and develop problem-solving skills as they advance from one level to another. Their young minds first learn to explore, gradually developing the ability for abstract thinking. While the basic educational benefits of preschool (such as literacy and numeracy) are tangible, the advances children achieve towards becoming well-rounded individuals are truly invaluable.
The children’s house provides your child with an environment in which a skilled observer (teacher) gives him the freedom needed to orientate his personality while helping him maintain self-control. Above all, through all the activities we not only respect the individuality of your child but they also learn to respect the teachers and other children.
Teachers play a great role in our lives, especially in the early days and have a greater impact on our successes than we typically realise.
Children, especially at a young age are so excited about the world around them. They are filled with curiosity and an imagination that is sincere and generous. Every day is an opportunity to discover something new about themselves and the world around them. Thus, it is important that they find teachers who are filled with the same passion, allowing them to explore their talents and inculcate the love of learning. Every child is unique and a passionate teacher can identify their uniqueness and support them on their individual paths. A passionate teachers cares enough to provide all the support and resources necessary for a child’s development. It is these early years of a child’s growth that form the foundation to later years as a successful adult.
Lasting impact of a teacher on young minds
In his blog The GatesNotes, Bill Gates writes about how Mrs Caffiere, a librarian and teacher, helped him break out of his shell by sharing her love of books with him. While Gates was a timid 9-year-old boy shying away from everyone and trying to hide his love for books, Mrs Caffiere helped him recognise his strength and encouraged him to do what he loved.
“Looking back on it now, there’s no question that my time with Mrs Caffiere helped spark my interest in libraries (Melinda’s and my first large-scale effort in philanthropy) and my focus on helping every child in America get the benefit of great teachers,” says Gates in his blog post A Teacher Who Changed My Life.
Teachers are the ones who recognise the natural talents of the students and build an environment that is conducive to their learning. It is remarkable to see how a teacher can have such a powerful influence in shaping the personality of a young child.
What does research say about teachers?
The influence of a teacher is not just limited to a student’s academic life but goes a long way resonating through various other stages. Economists Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman and Jonah E. Rockoff conducted a study on more than a million students and released it in their paper entitled, The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teachers Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood.
They found that high ‘value-added’ teachers not only have an impact on the test scores of students but also improve their chances of attending good colleges, earning more, living in better neighbourhoods and saving more for retirement.
However, it is also important to understand that a teacher who lacks interest can be detrimental to a student’s development. Such a teacher might just follow the instructions of the regulators, being ignorant to the needs of the student.
Just like the passion of a good teacher is contagious and motivates students to achieve higher goals, an indifferent teacher can lead to lower self-esteem in a child. When children feel accepted by their teacher, they believe in themselves too. On the contrary, an uninterested teacher might tear down the self-esteem of the child. Such children often grow up to be adults who are insecure and focus on their failures more than their successes.
The mind of a young student is fragile and needs to be moulded and nurtured in order to pave the way for success. If the talent of a child is not recognised and nurtured, it leads to low self-confidence and often a state of delusion about what they want to do in life.
Research states that it is what teachers know, do, and care, which accounts for 30% of the student’s achievement. While one student might need the motivation to play the next match after an injury, the other might be going through personal troubles and needs someone to talk to. Students in all stages of their life need a teacher who can inspire them and re-instil faith in their capabilities.
Do you remember that one teacher who inspired you to be who you are today?
Is there an optimal age for preschooling?
Most of the preschool start enrolling children at the age of 3 years, but does that mean your child is ready for it? More importantly, are you ready for it?
The readiness of your child to join a preschool is not determined by his age. It might be tempting to look at a set of interesting activities and conclude that your child will be able to do it. But the important question is: Is your child ready to part with you and join a structured programme along with other children of his age group?
Experts suggest that preschool is an experience that should not be missed. As a parent you want your child to have a solid foundation to start with. But it is equally important to analyse its benefits and pitfalls before you decide to put your child in a preschool.
Preschools help your child develop social skills
The benefits of preschools isn’t just limited to just academic growth of your child. Some parents tend to push their children to join a preschool thinking their children will get ahead in academics. Contrary to general belief, the most important benefit of a preschool is that children learn to socialise and interact with other children and teachers. It inculcates the love for learning in children and teaches them how to share, adjust and get along with their peers.
Playdates and outings are not always enough for the child’s social development. At preschool, your little one learns to get along with other children and resolve his own conflicts without the intervention of parents.
You cannot replicate the same environment at home
The comfort, free play and values that kids receive from staying at home cannot be denied. At the same time, preschool offers an organised learning environment that cannot be created at home. It offers the right mix of structured and unstructured activities to enhance the growth and development of your child.
Even if you decide to teach your child at home, it is very difficult to stay consistent with your efforts. You have to intentionally work on teaching your child the skills that other children are learning at school. The curriculum at preschool is composed of activities and materials that entice the children to remain engaged and help them learn unconsciously.
Your child learns to trust and build relationship with others
A toddler is usually very attached to the caregiver and has a difficult time being with other adults. Some of them might even feel strange in the presence of friends and family members. Going to preschool gives your child the opportunity to interact with other adults apart from you. He will be able to talk and voice his concerns to teachers. Hence, it fosters a feeling of trust and the child feels assured even when you are not around. Patience is also an important virtue that the child imbibes during his journey at school. Children are used to undivided attention from the family and the caregiver. Whereas, at preschool, they need to wait for their turn as there are other children who require the same attention.
It prepares them for smooth transition to school
Preschool provides an environment that prepares your child for a smooth transition to kindergarten and school. Getting up on time, eating lunch by yourself, following the instructions of teachers, playing and getting along with other kids, and learning in the class are few activities that prepare the child for his daily routine at school. In short, it bridges the gap between home and primary school.
Handling the anxiety of separation
If your child is not ready for preschool, he might go through separation anxiety and stress that makes you feel guilty about your decision. Going to school is a big change in the schedule that your toddler has become accustomed to. He sees new people around and takes time to trust and understand teachers and peers.
As a parent, you need to be prepared to handle difficult mornings when your child doesn’t want to go to school. Kids might get sick, throw tantrums or put up fights in the initial days to stay home. Be prepared to handle these challenges and take extra care of your child in these initial days.
Difficult daily schedule and timings
While some preschools have a flexible schedule, others demand that a strict routine be followed. This might make it difficult, especially for working parents. Moreover, the high cost involved in before and after school facilities make it a tough call for parents. You might need to leave soon or start early depending on the schedule of your child.
Packing lunch and other toiletries
The best thing about having a caregiver at home is that you have everything ready for the child at home. From daily meals to changing of diapers, you don’t need to worry about anything. This is not the case when your child starts going to preschool. You are responsible for preparing food and packing it according to preschool’s instructions. You might also need to pack spare clothes or a blanket in case it is required by the school.
Preparing your child for preschool
Before you decide to put your child in preschool, do your research.Talk to teachers, principal and friends who have experience with their children attending preschool. Learn about the goals of the preschool for your child’s age.
If your child is not yet ready to join a preschool, do not worry about it. Try to instil anticipation and enthusiasm instead of anxiety and distress. Build a positive environment at home where you talk to your kids about the fun they will have in preschool and new friends that they will make. Children feel secure when you introduce an idea to them before executing it.
Helping the child to become independent is another important step towards getting him ready for preschool. Encourage them to do small activities like brushing their hair or putting on their shorts. This gives them a sense of accomplishment and they feel comfortable moving on to the next level. After all, self-confidence is the best virtue that can ease your child’s journey through all his schooling years.
An stirring story of determination and courage
Maria Montessori was a courageous girl breaking the conventional barriers of education set up for those of her gender in the 1890s in Chiaravalle, Italy.
As a little girl, she initially aspired to become an engineer. But once she graduated from higher secondary school, she was determined to become a doctor. Despite her parents wishes to make her a teacher, Maria wanted to enter the field of medicine, which was dominated by men. Maria joined the University of Rome in 1890 and became the first woman to join a medical college in Italy.
Due to the gender bias, Maria faced many obstacles during her study and finally qualified as a doctor in 1896. Dr Montessori was very competent and treated patients from all social classes with the same the respect. She was also a member of Women’s Rights Movement and later joined a research programme at the University of Rome in the psychiatric clinic. Gradually Maria got interested in education and her studies led her to observe and question the teaching methods of children with intellectual disabilities.
A revolution in early childhood education
Maria got the opportunity to further investigate and improve the teaching methods when she was appointed as the co-director of Orthophrenic School. The school admitted a number of children with different disorders and developmental disabilities. She decided to approach the task in a scientific manner by analysing and observing the different teaching methods to find the one that was best for the children. Maria passionately worked throughout the day and compiled her notes at night.The unexpected progress of the children made the programme a big success.
In 1901, Montessori began her study in anthropology and educational philosophy and joined as a lecturer at the Pedagogic School of the University of Rome. During this period of development in Rome, parents were out for work all day while the children created havoc at home. Hence, Maria was approached to keep the children engaged so that they do not damage the newly constructed apartments. Maria willingly accepted the opportunity to open a childcare centre for the poor families. This led to the establishment of her first Casa dei Bambini (‘Children’s House’), which started on the 6th of January 1907. While people did not expect much from this project, Maria felt her vision would be realised one day: “I had a strange feeling which made me announce emphatically that here was the opening of an undertaking of which the whole world would one day speak.”
She brought some of the material that she had developed for children in the Orthophrenic School. Soon she introduced many new activities and other materials but only decided to keep the ones that engaged the children. She realised that when children are placed in an environment that supports their natural development, they have the power of self-education. The young children progressed brilliantly and the news of Montessori’s education approach started spreading rapidly throughout Italy.
Spreading the Montessori Method worldwide
In 1909, Montessori conducted the first training session in her educational approach for 100 students.
This was followed by the establishment of a number of Montessori schools, societies and training programmes all over the world. Maria was soon occupied in public speaking and lectures in different countries but she decided to give up these commitments and remain devoted to her primary purpose.
During the same period, the rise of fascism in Europe caused a huge loss as all Montessori schools in Germany were closed by the Nazis in 1933. After she refused to be a part of Mussolini’s plans to incorporate the Montessori schools into youth movement for fascists, he closed down all her schools. In 1939, Maria and her son went to India to run a training course for 3 months in Madras. But due to the outbreak of the war, she was put under house arrest and her stay was extended to a period of 7 years. However, Maria’s passion could not be shaken by the circumstances and she used the opportunity to train over a thousand teachers in India.
After her return to Europe, Maria was asked to address Unesco with the theme of Education and Peace. This was followed by her nomination for the Nobel Prize Award in 1949. She believed: “The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity. He has shown us the true process of construction of the human being. We have seen children totally change as they acquire a love for things and as their sense of order, discipline, and self-control develops within them… The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”
The Montessori Method of education created a century ago still remains relevant despite the development and changes in education. Montessori education is based on the principle of respect for the child. Maria Montessori believed that when children are respected and given the freedom to choose the material they want to work with, they have the power to educate themselves. Over a period of 100 years, the Montessori Method has enabled the all-round development of hundreds and thousands of children, making them contributing members of society.