Montessori Schools

Montessori schools are fast spreading throughout India. If you are the parent of a toddler searching for play schools for your child, you would have seen Montessori schools in your neighbourhood. For those who are wondering what Montessori schools are all about, this post is for you! Read on to know more…

Montessori is a different approach to education. Montessori schools have no normal classrooms with teachers teaching children. Instead, they have classrooms where teaching aids are placed all around. Children are free to explore these teaching aids as they wish. These classrooms are similar to a home where children’s toys are spread around, and the child picks a toy as she pleases. The only difference is Montessori has specialised toys that help the child explore, observe and understand.

If children are free to do what they want.., and learn by themselves, what is the role of teachers in Montessori play schools?
Teachers are observers and guides. They monitor and observe every child’s progress. they help and guide children with their activities when the need arises. In Montessori play schools, teachers introduce different kinds of activities to children, and then let the child take it up as per his will.

Child in a Montessori school

Montessori classrooms group children based on their age. Unlike traditional schools, montessori schools follow a mix of ages. For example, children from age group of 3 to 6 can be grouped together. This is because, children in age group 3 to 6 have similar development milestones. Schools or Classrooms for children of this age group focus on activities like spooning, pouring to exploring textures, shapes to basic maths, language, music and art materials.

Montessori materials in a classroom

Montessori materials

Children’s physical, mental and intellectual abilities grow in stages. Starting from birth to adolscent years, this growth happens in stages. These stages are commonly referred to as development milestones. Montessori teaching aids are designed based on these stages of development. For three year olds, their normal development milestones would be muscular co-ordination, speaking and sentence formation, Identifing clours, textures and shapes, first stage of counting, etc. Thus, teaching aids for montessori play schools focus on activities like spooning,pouring, stacking cups, staircase rods, color cards, texture cards, rhythm, beats, drawing and colouring.

Advantages of Montessori education when compared with traditional education is: Montessori encourages children to continue their exploration and creativity at school. It allows children to be free and learn at their pace. No peer pressure or schedules. It thrives by encouraging every child’s in-born urge to explore, discover and create.

How did Montessori system come into practise?

This method of education was first practised by an Italian physcian and educator named Maria Montessori. She started developing her education methods in  1897. She opened the first Montessori class room in Rome in 1907. It spread gradually, and finally reached the US in 1960 where it gained popularity. Thousands of schools in the US have adopted the Montessori methods of education. Since then, Montessori has spread to almost all countries and is widely seen throughout the world as a unique approach to eduction.India Montessori

India was one of the early countries to adopt the Montessori method of education starting from 1939. Maria Montessori lived in India for a brief time with her son. During this time, she opened Montessori centres in Madras, Pune, Ahmedabad and Karachi. There are several legendary training institues in India that impart training on Montessori education. Montessori schools in India employ teachers trained in these prestigious institutions.

If you are interested in becoming a Montessori trained educationist, please check out India Montessori Centre  and Indian Institue for Montessori Studies .

If you are a parent interested in Montessori education for your children, pay a visit to the nearest Montessori school. Montessori schools allow interested people to sit in as observers in their class rooms.

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Image sources: The Growing Concern School, Montessori Tides School, The International Montessori Council.

Good pre schools for toddlers

Forty years back, the correct age for sending children to school was five years. Twenty years ago, three years was the correct age. Now, children as young as two years start attending pre-schools and play schools. How does this influence a child’s growth?

At the completion of two years, children can gradually observe and understand how the world works.  Every child has his own way of observing and exploring the world. Some children are fast at understanding, while some take a longer time. However, these are best learnt by silent observation at the child’s own pace.

Child learning from water

Increasingly, children start preschool between two and three years. . The reason for this is the academic competition prevalent in India, nuclear families with working parents, and the social pressure to do what every one else does. In this context, here is an analysis on what kind of play schools are out there. How do they affect child development? Here are a few thoughts….

Routines and Schedules:

Not all two / three year old kids can adapt a routine. For active and curious kids, a routine may end up frustrating. If your kid does not show interest in adapting to a scheduled life style, skip preschools that emphasize on getting kids follow a routine.

child winning

Competitions:

Many schools hold races, fancy dress, oratory competitions as a means of entertaining parents and children. Think twice while choosing a school that holds many competitions. The concept of memorizing, winning, etc might be over whelming and unnecessary at three years of age.

Open play spaces:

Toddlers need to experience a lot of textures, sounds, shapes, etc. This is best done by letting them play outdoors. The variety of colours, sounds, shapes, objects that nature provides are the best teaching and growth aids for children. Preschools that offer safe open spaces are a definite advantage to your child’s growth.

nature playground

Image source: http://www.naturegrounds.org/

Food:

Some preschools and international schools provide snacks and food. If opting for schools that provide food, due attention is needed for the menu and food. Ensure the menu provides a multi-grain nutritious food. It is best to go in for schools that offer specialty cooked food rather than outsourced food cooked in huge quantities.

child melon

Hygiene:

Not all toddlers are properly potty trained by the age of two or three years. ISome school that looks down on toddlers who cannot wash themselves. Some schools even call up parents to complain or scold kids who are not potty trained.  This have a negative impact on your child’s psychological growth. In addition, your kid will have an awful day at school if she has to spend 4 or 6 hours smelling bad in soiled clothes. It will be a good decision to avoid such schools.   Give preference to schools that have motherly care takers who can wash and tend to your kids.

child nappy

Montessori Preschools:

Montessori preschools offer kids a variety of learning tools and play things. The child is free to select the activity that she is interested in. Montessori preschools let the child discover her own observations. They do not involve direct teaching or instructor led teaching. Montessori schools are a good option for parents who give more priority to their child’s overall development (psychological, behavioral, social, etc) over academic development.

Montessori-Knobless-Cylinders

Waldorf Preschools:

Waldorf education model for preschools offers group activities, home like environment, focus on extra curricular activities like coloring, reciting, playing with building blocks, modelling clay, etc. Waldorf system is widely believed to be suitable for children who like rhythmic repetition, and order.

child colouring

Religious Preschools:

There are a whole range of schools affiliated to various religions and spiritual trusts. These schools offer the usual classroom education, along with teaching aids and curriculum influenced by the teachings of a particular religion or spiritual guru.

A few of these institutions focus on discipline. Strict schedules, punishments, verbal admonishes are things to be aware of when selecting schools that focus on making the child learn discipline. Select religious schools that nurture the child’s innocence and teach them values in a child friendly manner.

child praying

Instead of exploring and understanding the world, many two year old children spend time in closed classrooms,  eat out of snack boxes, memorize rhymes and action songs,  have teachers teaching them, etc.  When this happens, we need to ensure these class rooms help in the child’s overall development.

A healthy body and happy mind are essential for a good childhood.  Let us ensure every child has access to a healthy, free and happy childhood.