When I was still training as a teacher, there was this module called Educational Philosophy and the lecturer gave us our first piece of assignment entitled ‘My Ideal School’. Sounds easy to write? Perhaps on first thought. On further reflection, you will realise that it is not because you need to consider the principles behind those ideals and how those could work out in our society.
Now, as a mom to a toddler, I ask myself the same question but obviously I’m thinking more in terms of a preschool for the time being.
This video on how a 4YO boy spent his morning in a Montessori classroom excites me. Somehow, it reminded me of Totto-chan who received a delightful education in a railroad car and where her individuality and creativity was nourished. I wish the same for Faith but I’m not sure how many preschools out there stress on this. In any case, I have not done any research and judging by how things progress in our household, it is quite likely that Faith would not be enrolled in a preschool any time soon. Hmmm…
If I am to teach Faith myself, then I had better design a curriculum for her and to find a community in which she can grow and learn with. This can be both daunting and exciting at the same time. And as each day passes, I am acutely aware that she is growing up really fast and there is no time to lose. So much stuff to teach her!
This week, I will be reflecting on this issue and if you are into montessori education and want to try some of the ideas at home, you can look for them at #montessoriathome on IG.
Here’s another video for your viewing pleasure.
I want to state that I’m not advocating that Montessori education is the way to go and that I would enrol Faith in such a preschool in days to come. In any case, I’m not even sure if those in our neighbourhood carry out lessons in the true Montessori spirit. However, there are areas with which I’m obviously impressed and would love to employ those methods to teach Faith.
These are some of the features that I love about Montessori education:
- The children work individually most of the time, coming together when they wish to, at different periods during the day. These periods are not set, but arise out of the needs of the children on a daily basis.
- Children are vertically grouped (mixed ages).
- Written observations of children are made regularly.
- Children have continual and free access to a full range of the Montessori materials appropriate for their age.
- Classes are run in such a way that they promote the children’s freedom to make spontaneous choices; to be independent; to complete cycles of work; to develop a sense of responsibility within the group; to use the materials properly.
- Children actively engage with materials that are designed from a developmental point of view and which lead them to successive levels of discovery about their world.
- Materials are displayed in an orderly way, well maintained and complete.
- The environment is prepared to be simple and beautiful, and is continuously maintained to a high standard.
- At any time in the classroom a ratio of no greater than 1 adult to 8 children engages in classroom activity.
Just some notes to remind myself in terms of choosing a preschool when the time comes. These ‘tips’ came from an ex-preschool teacher.
– Do you feel comfortable communicating with the principal and the teachers?
– Ask about the teacher-child ratio and the turn- over rate and qualifications of the staff in the centre as this will affect the quality of care that they can give to your child.
– The environment plays a part. If the centre is air-conditioned, children will fall sick often and virus such as HFMD and chicken pox will spread more easily.
– Curriculum wise, you could ask yourself if you are more concerned about your child’s academic learning or character/social development. Find a centre that supports your belief in how children should learn (e.g through hands on projects/activities or worksheets/drilling ).