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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Montessori Kindergarten in KK

I have been doing Monty Kindy hunting for the past 3 months now. Have not found the most ideal one yet (not like I am doing a good job here - in fact this is my 2nd kindergarten that I have visited), but yesterday hubby, lil C and myself went to visit a kindy at Austral Park who claims to be a Montessori. Called the principal a week earlier, and decided to drop-by yesterday morning.

It was quite a cosy kindergarten, with spacious backyard for the kids to exercise their muscle and balancing movement. There was NO slides outside the building as the principal explained that the children should be running, instead of playing with such unnecessary 'toys', for muscle growth.. hmm... (I thought slides are good for balancing??!! Not sure if her theory is acceptable.. wished Ms. Teoh of our workshopmate, the physical education teacher was around to answer me here). Anyways, the principal was very kind to show us around and explained a fair bit of the montessori principal that they apply in this kindy ~ freedom of choice, PLE, Language, etc.

There is a classroom for children below 3 years old which has 7 little students in it (recommended for lil C),a 3-4 years old classroom and as well as the 5-6 years of age. They also have a Chinese classroom caters for 4 years and above. Lil C sat in the class that was recommended for him for a shortwhile, until he noticed that Mama has left the room to follow the principal walking around the building. So, he screamed "Mama!!" and hubby took him out from that room before he scream some more.

We continued to walk around to see the available Montessori apparatus. I cant find the nature table, and the apparatus looked old and appeared to have chapped edges here and there. Some parts of the knobbed cylinder were even missing! hmmphh... But later on, the owner did explain that its because of cost-saving that's why they didnt replenish the materials.. hmmpp.. I saw 2 children were roaming about the rooms, and the principal explained that they are new and the teachers do not want to push them too hard by giving them task to do as yet. She let the child to adjust herself with the environment first, then only a task will be given.... hmmphh... Well, as usual, I would always keep my sweet smile and said 'oh!'.. what is there to say when the business isnt even mine?? ....

The principal knew that I was taking up a diploma course in Montessori Method, and asked about the course. She told me that she too, had take up a similar course in KK sometime ago, which were arranged by one of the Montessori Kindergarten's owner, whom has migrated to New Zealand. Her 3 other staff are also holding a Montessori cert (not sure if that's a diploma/certificate of attendance) that includes the owner herself, which is quite good for a montessori kindergarten. However, I did notice that when the children (age around 4-5) were working on the aparatus, they didnt even handle the materials with care.. the way they carried the materials to the working mat.. Two long rods were carried at the same time, the heavy brown stair was carried using one hand! hmmmph.. No PLE were placed on the shelf because according to the principal, the materials will only be taken out to show the children when they are ready. Ready for what? hmmmphh.. Of course the children can only work on those materials after they were taught how to use it, but again, where's the freedom of selecting which work to do on a particular day when there none to select from the shelves in the first place?? hmmphh..

My impression of that kindy? Well, having the principal said that they give the children the freedom (and she didnt say it is the freedom of choice, which is in Montessori philosophy), she and the other teachers did raise their voice at the kids to instruct them to do their work.

Some Eq:
"Kimmy, I do not see that you are doing your writing exercise!!!"
"Have you all done your homework? Do not tell lies to me, because I will know" <--- geezz, sounds threatening!"
"Do not spill the water on the table!!!!!"

And they also did not follow what they preached! The new child was given too much freedom by not doing anything, and the other children were FORCED/THREATEN to do their work..

Okay, enough has been said..

I remembered our lecturer told us about freedom of choice (Mind you, that means the child is given choices and they are able to do decision which one does he/she prefers). That does not mean a total freedom is given to a child entirely! It means that the child is given a choice, A or B, and allowed he/she to choose which one she prefers...

1. Parents may decide that a young child may choose either to have Apple or Orange for snack, but the child is not free to eat nothing at all.
2. The teacher gives the child an option to follow her to the shelf to do a work, and the child decides if he wants to follow her or not, but the child is not free to not do anything at all and stay idle.

That kind of limited freedom! until the child has learn responsibility to earn more freedom in future. This will help the child to build his self-esteem and in future will help him to do decision making for life! and not always kelamkabut like myself (always takes hours or even days to do a decision, and always regret and blam myself for doing a mistake after that! ahhaha.. so un-montessori trained)

Would I send my child there? hmmmphh.. Now, hubby understands why I have been preaching about doing homeschooling! haahah!

Update on Lil C's behaviour in that school:
He seemed to be friendly with most of the kids and teachers. The moment he was touching the Sensorial materials, he called one jiajia(age maybe around 4y.o) to show him the materials. Then, few of the boys came and joined them.. That was so sweet. That's why Dr. Maria Montessori had always preached that children age from 2-6 should be in one classroom to improve their social skills. The older kids will help the younger ones, and this helps to build their self-esteem & confident! We asked him if he likes that school and he nodded, saying,"jiajia". Hehehe.. He always love having older sisters around, to be taken care of by them!


Elaine said...

About the slide, in the book Montessori From the Start, they do mentioned about montessori stairs. So I suppose climbing is suppose to help with balancing and muscles growth.

And do you remember Mdm Janaki mentioned about how the kid's body porpotion. The head is heavy than the body so they tend to run instead of walk. We shouldn't give them too big a space and that's why you place a little obstacles here and there for them to learn to control their body muscles not just a big open space

Celine said...

Thanks for reminding.. hehehe... that's true! ;) Cheers!

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