Montessori World

An educational blog for children and adults

Seesaw For Kindergarten Online Learning

SEESAW is a good tool to use to organise teaching materials as children can draw on the screen and send it back to teachers. This is especially fun to for young learners.

For Mandarin learners, go to my link https://app.seesaw.me/a/9a1e0b8b-044b-4d1b-a10d-cdd45ede2ae7, there are instructions for you to follow. Most importantly, please be patient if this is something new to you.

February 10, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Special Needs and Online Learning

What educational experiences do kids need to thrive in the world given the current situation in which remote teaching and learning is taking place? This is the underlying question addressed by many school owners, principals, teachers, parents and students. If kids are going to thrive, they will need enhanced outdoor learning program, even during this most crucial moment, that employ all the various areas of intelligences, including those children with special needs.

The big question is HOW!?

Often practitioners working with children with special needs address their concerns about the challenges inside the classroom, hence proper accommodations are necessary so that the students can thrive in outdoor learning environments, which is the case most of the time. However, with the recent global pandemic situation and changing regulations, teaching and learning has been brought back into the indoor, remote and online environment, where the screen in a box seems to be the learning environment for children with special needs. What type of proper accommodations can facilitate these children to thrive in their learning process?

Children with special needs can find it difficult to follow instructions, seems to forget directions immediately and always in trouble, which causes reprimand, punishment, consequences, time-outs or let lose outside the classroom for a bit. They could have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), family problems or CAP (Central Auditory Processing Disorder, a type of Learning Disability even among children with high IQ and superficial ability).

There is mounting evidence that outdoor education provides enhanced learning experiences for all students, especially and exclusively for those with special learning needs. The alternative outdoor approach becomes a necessity to this group of children who, most of the time, is sidelined or missed this significant portion of experience in their learning environment. During this time, there is an urgent need that teachers and parents become better informed and equipped about how to create greater accessibility and involvement to help these unique learners, including those with lower intellectual capacity (Down Syndrome) to children who are unable to focus, seem disinterested, overactive or uncooperative but extremely intelligent.

As with a typical indoor classroom, outdoor education programmes are best put into practice with a clear structure, and in the current remote learning situation, sharing your teaching/activity plan ahead with the parents is necessary to facilitate student understanding and participating in the activities.

A few guidelines outlined by Carol McMullen, a special needs specialist, can be used to accommodate children with special needs, even in a remote learning situation (in some cases, this guideline is also useful when planning activities for very young children under 5):

a) Instructions need to be repeated or presented in a couple of different ways, and chunked into smaller steps. A checklist or visual guide to the parents and/or the children will further assist focus and motivation.

b) Use visual aids with bright colours, and hands on practice examples.

c) Simplify your learning or activity goals.

d) Help children to use all their senses, especially touch.

e) Pair the child with a partner who is strong in organization and performance skills.

f) Close proximity to an adult who acts as an instructor, education assistant, a much older student, a parent, or an active senior volunteer with good skills to guide and engage the child.

g) Assign tasks to help children with special needs to maintain focus, motivation and status within a small group. They will certainly feel ‘important’ and valued like the rest of the children.

In an online class, breakout the usual classroom sessions with 2 or 3 children, as well as supervision from a parent or an adult. Extended mini-meeting may be necessary rather than having an overall gathering to discuss an outdoor activity.

From the viewpoint of the teacher/instructor, this task could take up a lot of their time, in which parents should also be notified about the time allocation and management on the teacher’s part. A meeting could be held to discuss of a certain consensus that would benefit and agreeable to parents and teachers.

Teachers could attempt to plan a lesson or activity by bringing in outdoor lessons into the online classroom. On other days, after assigning a set of clear instructions with clear learning goals, for children to do with their parents or caregivers, and then return to the online classrooms for some discussion and sharing moments.

Even in this time of lockdown, teachers can continue to form special connection with the children of special needs and their families in a more restricted setting and a less physical proximity manner. This new type of learning and staying connected though space and time can be an inspiration on many levels for the children’s future.

Compiling photos and videos is a great way to share your stories with each other in a classroom. Parents and other volunteers can come forward to share their stories in an online classroom session.

*I would love to hear comments, feedbacks or questions from readers on the change in teaching styles and approaches for children with special needs.

February 10, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CONVERSATIONS WITH MONTESSORIANS: Lyndiem

My ex-colleague, Lyndiem (not her real name), is an extremely low-profiled but highly experienced and qualified Montessori teacher in Shanghai, China. Hailing from the Philippines, she has travelled extensively to many countries in Europe and North Africa. She inspired me so much so that I felt the urge to apply to AMI Navadisha Montessori Teaching Institute in Chennai, India. (Sadly, I didn’t pursue the AMI Elementary course upon getting admitted due to inadequate fund.)

Lyndiem did not have a teaching background. In Singapore, she worked as Customer Service executive in a telco company. As she couldn’t see herself having a long term prospect in that company, she decided to take a course that led to an early childhood qualification. After much extensive research in the best method of education, she found the answer in the Montessori Method, a scientifically proven method that supports the development of children aged 0-6 through promoting independence, peace and order.

Lyndie heard about the Montessori education when she was in the Phillipines. “Montessori are commonly known as expensive schools which only the elite ones go.” As she was doing her research, Lyndiem understood more about the pedagogy, convincing herself to spend two years pursuing the course in one of the leading AMI training centres in Chennai, India, also known as Navadisha Montessori Institute.

“Is there a favourite trainer whom you like?” I was not surprise when Lyndie blatantly said “Usually we hate our trainers. We never like them. AMI training is always well known as ‘super vigourous and rigid’.” However, the trainer whom she hates the most was her favourite trainer who owns the learning institute and she wishes to be trained under her as a future trainer for teachers.

During her training, Lyndiem had to draw the teaching presentations step-by-step, in addition to many other assignments like essays and drawings showing the flow of the presentations. For example, when doing water pouring exercise, what happens to the water. Photo presentation is not accepted, only drawing. Lyndiem was not good in drawing so this was the part she hated the most.  Another example of presentation is building the Pink Tower in motion. Lyndiem refers to the drawings in her albums a lot. “We can’t always rely on the writeups, but drawings.” This method of learning helps in her review of the area of Mathematic (Decimal System and Stamp Game) and Language. 

What is the most important quality did your trainer have which has inspired you the most? “Rukmini. She is very knowledgeable in everything related to the theoretical part of Montessori philosophy. She also edited two Maria Montessori books.”

Lyndie started her course in year 2010 which took about 9 months to complete, during the training she also completed practicum which covers classroom observation, school practice and completion of albums, which encompasses about 420 hours. Besides wishing there were more time in submission of assignments and albums, she has no regrets at all.

After completing her diploma, she started to look for schools on AMI website, and hence began her teaching career in: Bulgaria, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Morocco and China.

What is your most memorable  teaching moment? “Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s culture is so beautiful. They have their own alphabet, healthy food and own language (Cyrillic).” She was there for two years, Czech Republic one year, and Morocco for two years. Although her first teaching experience in Bulgaria was a struggle, parents were welcoming, don’ t judge or complain, they shower you with love, and friends with parents. Czech’s parents are colder, “I am not going to rent out to you because you are a foreigner”. Moroccon parents are warmer. China was a culture shock for her.

Lyndie admires her first employer, a Bulgarian headmistress who owns a school where Lyndie taught. The principal started a new school with no assistant, only one classroom, 3-6, and another classroom, 0-3. “There were 20 children in the class, both teachers are AMI trained and we have 10 children each. Most of the time I am in the classroom, and she manages the school. During the whole 3 hour interrupted working cycle, she is there. She is always there. I am lucky to choose the school. She strictly follows the AMI Montessori philosophy. The materials are beautiful. She was mentoring me. I am very thankful to her for giving me the opportunity for my first teaching experience. We are still friends. She is doing her AMI trainer course in Switzerland now. She wants me to manage the school. And her mother loves me so much.”

What is the one Montessori principle that you hang on to as your core value? “Don’t help the child. Help him to do it by himself because independence is aid for life. If you keep helping the child you are obstructing his development. But parents do not understand that until they study Montessori.”

Has Montessori training or values change your personal life? “Absolutely. Right after I became a Montessori teacher, I became watchful of how I would conduct myself in front of the children. They have this absorbent mind and sensitive period. I would be more conscious. Lyndie you cannot sit like that. You cannot put so much food in your mouth. That is the spiritual transformation and preparation that you will need to do. Maria Montessori said that: spiritual preparation.”

Is there one rule that you have ever broken? “Like when children are testing you, your patience, I have to raise my voice.”

In order to educate parents, what is the one thing you wish to tell them? “Independence and order. The routine is very important.”

Do you have a plan to open a school one day? “Oh yes.”

What is the first thing you would do? “Physically and mentally. I want to give back to the children in my hometown who couldn’t afford Montessori. That’s my dream.”

How do you see your future school different than the others? “It would be very very clean, full of gardens where children grow their own vegetables, full of authentic Montessori materials.”

Please elaborate more on authenticity. “During my training and after that I joined one school, all are authentic from Nienhuis. I have actually. When I was preparing my visa to go to Bulgaria, I have to go to Indonesia to apply for visa. I stayed in Indonesia for a month. There I met a principal of an international school with a classroom of one hour Montessori. They asked me to help out . I tried to do some presentations with the children. When I took the brown stairs, there were ten prisms. When I took it, it is the thickest and the lightest.”

So, the authenticity of the materials is something that you talk about a lot. We know Nienhuis manufacturer has the standards which they always maintain in the beginning, and you talked about the materials must be created for their brain development and sensorial experiences. What are the other authentication guidelines you would look at when you open your own school? “We were advised, at the last stage of our training, that the shape of the classroom has to be pentagon 5 sides for the five areas. If I can have a big property/land, I will do that. I am eyeing for one. We have a property, a big piece of land from my mother. I only want a small school and I will ask my sister to be the principal. I will be in the classroom and I don’t want to come out of the classroom. I hope to fulfil the dream.”

Are you planning to further your studies? “Yes, to become an AMI trainer. And do a master’s degree in psychology. One at a time. I want to do 0-3 course. I will check online about the Child Psychology course. My friend in Singapore is also looking for an AMI teachers,  just like me.  She has 3-6 and 6-12 classes.”

Tell me one thing that you have learned from all your experiences, working in Europe, Africa and China. Tell me one thing that has enriched you the most as a Montessorian. “I think working with non-English speaking children and you will trying to see them learning a new language without being pushed by the parents. I saw them evolved naturally, who speak 5 languages,. You will be very proud to see them reading English texts and sentences, recognise the Latin letters, especially when I was in Bulgaria. That was one thing that I am really proud of myself. When I decided to work, I didn’t choose to go to an English speaking country like America, because I think it is boring, so easy to teach the children.”

Tell me the importance of the uninterrupted 3 hour work cycle. “This is where they develop concentration. Circle Time is not included. Mixed age group too. And trained teachers and prepared environment.”

How important is the child to stay in the school for 3 years? “This is how you are going to see the child develops. The moment she enters the child sees Practical Life. Which helps her to understand the Sensorial area and the basic of Mathematic, and Language is in the Practical Life area and Sensorial. So it goes hand in hand. Order. Concentration. Independence.”

How important do you think it is to work as a team? How do you find a way to work as a team? “When I was in Lithuania, I had a great assistant. She has , the only assistant you could wish for, she has the initiative to make materials, she would search for songs, learn guitar, very pretty physically, and she has an eye for things. When I left the school, she left too. And then, I move to Morocco.”

How was it like in Morocco? “I role-model in the classroom, I don’t boss around in the classroom. Though I am tired, I will show you I am not lazy. My boss would come and say, ‘Look at Lyndie, she is sitting down and you are the one walking around. She is your assistant, you shouldn’t let them do that to you.’ I was like a ping pong ball. I talk to my assistant. She eventually realised that she has to change.”

“We sit with the management and discuss our roles. I will tell my assistant to prepare the materials in the morning because I will be in the office. My classroom is already prepared before I go home, the only duty for my assistant is to put back the materials for practical life. Cleaning and sanitising I will do it, alone. I have to clean the placemats, folding the aprons, I am very meticulous.”

I am happy to be your colleague for a year, Lyndie, and I have witness your commitment towards Montessori Philosophy and Practice throughout the year. Before we end this interview, tell me how would you describe your teaching spirit as a Montessorian. “I am not here to please the parents. I am here to teach the children. If they see any good results, academic wise at home, it is because I did it in the classroom. I don’t need to show it off. Children need to adjust to the new materials and the new routine. You will need time to let them blossom. They need time to learn and practice folding aprons, wash and dry the dishes. This take a long time for them to memorise. This is indirect preparations for the brain development. Two weeks is not enough to see any improvement. Give them a term of 3-4 months, and you can see them blossom. Children are different everywhere but they have the same needs.”

Thank you Lyndie and I hope someday we get to meet again.

(I am so pleased to reconnect with Lyndiem on Wechat through an ex-colleague just before Christmas.)

This is the best picture I have from a dedicated Montessorian.

December 28, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Montessori in the Workplace.

I’m always hyped up by this thing called Montessori and this time it’s from a TED Talk.

According to the speaker, who is a Montessori parent and former HR personnel, three Montessori elements is able to produce changes in any workplace for the benefit of the organisation and employee: Freedom, Curiosity and Play.

I think so too (although some play advocators or Montessorians themselves might argue that play in a Montessori environment, by definition is not considered play due to the factors of structure and rule).

So, have a watch and rethink how companies like Google and Apple are able to recreate the organisations’ vision and mission for the 21st century generation.

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Montessori Lead Guide Opportunity at Austin, Texas

I am always excited to share news or job opportunities from other schools around the world. In this post, you will find another lead Montessori guide opening amidst the current precedented and unprecedented upheavals.

“Magnolia Montessori For All is one of the most diverse schools in Austin—racially, culturally, and socio-economically. We seek to dismantle the segregation, racism, and white supremacy that plague our city and nation. 

We seek to create an experience for children that is grounded in liberation. The Montessori method has been cultivating leaders, innovators, humanitarians, and artists for more than 100 years. However, it is typically only available for affluent families in private schools. We started Austin’s first free public Montessori school to provide hands-on, restorative, self-directed learning communities for all children, regardless of their families’ income levels. 

You can find more information here in the job description here. Also, here is a video of our lab school in action: https://bit.ly/3dqsjlR. Finally, here is our Creating a Welcoming & Inclusive Community overview.”

Contact Sara at her email address or personal phone number if you or anyone is interested and wants to know more about the position.

Sara (512) 720-8507; saracotner@montessoriforall.org
Sara Cotner
Founder & CEO, Montessori For All

October 18, 2020 Posted by | advertisement | Leave a comment

Homemakers Club – for girls and boys

This article was published in 1985 when I was in primary school. My late appa collected many newspaper cuttings, including this one. The school that was highlighted was located in Section 5, Petaling Jaya, named Taman Petaling Secondary Girls. In the beginning, during that time, this school had a store which also sells fruits, a mini-zoo and a Homemaker’s Club which intrigues me because I wish I had learned the skills shared and offered through the club at a younger age. Through this club, the girls learn to cook, sew, garden and handicraft.

The advisers for this club played a somewhat similar role to a Montessori guide: “Teachers are only to advise. If the girls have any problems, they can come and consult us. They run the club by themselves.”

The president of the club is a Fifth Former domestic science student. One of the many successful projects is “The Garden of Spices” which took about six months to “blossom into something that not only looks good but smells heavenly too”, where chillies, curry leaves, lemongrass, ginger, limau nipis (lime), mint and other spices grow bountifully. The girls used these items in their cookery sessions, yes they cooked and sold to other students, yes they sold and used back the proceeds to tend their garden. Yes, they practised real life entrepreneurship.

Not only that, the Homemaker Club members also made curtains for their room where recipes and cookery sessions were shared amongst them. At the age of 15, one of the members learned how to make chapati from her mum and taught her friends how to prepare her new found skill. There were also chocolate moulding and bread making sessions.

The girls used a board in their school to broadcast skill-sharing sessions with other students in terms of recipes and needlework. They also planned trips to food processing related places.

At that time, each member contributed 20sen each week to sustain all their projects. They usually collected more fund by selling their handwork, such as nylon flower, to other students in the school. The idea of having a reporter to write about the Homemakers Club was also to create interest and awareness among the readers of New Straits Times for funding purpose.

Reading this article made me to reflect on the role of a Montessori Guide/Teacher, especially for a group of adolescents and the inclusion of boys to participate in the tasks of Homemaker Club.

“My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams, earning a secondary diploma, and proceeding on to university, but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual. —— Maria Montessori, The Erdkinder programme”

Teachers need to remember that they can be a ‘catalyst’ in the matter of gender socialisation, gender bias/sex sterotype and gender roles. Children as young as 3 year old are found to have gender bias conception in their conversations and play activities. As an educator, I believe that a person should act according to one’s identity, responsibility and purpose, not through gender or sex. Thus, the inclusion of boys in doing housework and girls fixing cars and pipes are essential towards the integration of both gender roles in creating a harmony society.

Let’s make this world a better place starting from the school by creating a Homemaker Club in schools.

*I am curious to know whether the school Taman Petaling Secondary Girls School and the teachers and students mentioned in this article are available to give their feedback on my post.

#Taman Petaling Secondary Girls School #Sekolah Menengah Perempuan Taman Petaling #Mrs CM Chan #Puan Faizah #Ngoo Poh Lay #Mrs Ang Siew Khim #Teranjit #Norliza

September 23, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MONTESSORI EVERYWHERE

Press Release from a group of Montessorians in the cyberworld.:

August 17, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vacancy in China.

‘Procrastination is the mother of some evil’. If you are constantly finding yourself procrastinating on a regular basis, stop and start to take action.

If you want to give yourself a new beginning or a new opportunity, perhaps you would like to venture into a new realm of education.

Try this:

A school in Putuo, Shanghai (China) is currently looking for a certified English teacher, and Montessori lead teachers and assistant teachers for their casa and toddler children.

For those who are interested and want more information about the above positions, please write to Helen Yang at helen.yang@hotmail.ca.

Sail through with Perseverance, Patience and Persistence

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Free resources.

Hey wonderful readers, I am exploring the cyberworld for resources by opening the mails in my inbox, and I’m quite surprise to know that there are many generous people around the globe offering free courses, webinar and resources, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s truly a blessing in disguise.

Here, I will share 3 sources which I find benefitting and engaging for the present situation and future planning.

  1. Free webinar: Developing Inner-Resilience for the School Year by developing Inner Compassion, on 21st July. Register here: www.mindfulschools.org
  2. Free talk: How To Theme Art Activities, List of Fun Art Books and List of Art Materials. Watch it here: Spramani Elaun
  3. Free online summer camp: TIME For Kids camp for the whole month of July. Join other kids and families at: TIME Magazine For Kids

HAPPY SCURRYING!

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Practical Life & Science: Life of Paneer

I read somewhere recently that for children to become multifaceted citizens, they should be able to do things independently, despite their ages, skills and abilities. How adults should prepare children for the road and not prepare the road for the children.

So, to relate this to my journey in India, I was ‘fortunate’ to be placed in a situation where I had to live in scarcity, without the basic amenities for cooking and a fridge. If I want to teach children about resilience, perseverance, creativity and innovation, I must first go through the process myself, don’t you think?

This time around, I noticed that the weather which had slowly turned hot can affect the material and chemical properties of milk. Following nature’s flow and guidance, as I learn to listen to It, I can actually make paneer (Hindi for cottage cheese) without much effort, which I never learn how to make in Malaysia.

Watch the clip and tell me how do you make your own paneer.

June 16, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment