Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are we doing too much for our child?

China, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong are some countries which preschools emphasize a lot on academic achievement. However, there are a lot of schools and education system in other countries which inspire me. When I see how they operate, they remind me a lot of the Montessori philosophy.

I just came across an article on Japanese preschool. A China mom was shocked over the preschool system in Kyoto when she sent her daughter there. The article stated 12 things that stunned her. A smile went across my face when I was reading it. What she wrote has clearly reflected the difference between the Chinese and Japanese education system. The Japanese system advocates independence, bravery, inner and outer strength of a child. The Japanese moms neither help their young child to carry bags nor change clothes. As a result, the Japanese children are all cheerful little angels with smiles on their faces at all times. (To check out this interesting article, click here.)

Why is that so? INDEPENDENCE leads to SELF-ESTEEM. Remember I mentioned this in my "Are Practical Life activities so important?" blog?

In addition, there are forest kindergartens in Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, England and the USA, operating in woodland teaching children from 3 to 6 years old. The children at the age of 4 are allowed to use a knife without supervision. We see freedom within limitation here. The children are well aware of the consequence of misusing a knife, hence they are extra careful. Independence! Children learn academic subjects through activities in nature. These children can ease through their primary school very well after they have left the forest kindergarten, because they are more coordinated and willing to work out solutions to problems on their own. Bravo!

So, are we doing too much for our children which indirectly impede their development, especially in independence? Many children have "kakak" doing everything for them at home. The children may start to wonder, "Am I incapable of accomplishing the task? Kakak and other adults are more capable." This may lower the self-esteem of a child, which indirectly discourages her to learn in all aspects.

I have seen this happening a lot in the past few years of teaching. Some parents are willing to take my advice and start involving their children in household chores. I see a great difference after a child has become more independent. She is usually confident about herself and is happy and willing to take up challenge to learn new things.

Related Blog:
1. Are Practical Life activiities so important?

Related Links/ Articles:
1. Japanese Preschool: 12 things that stun a Chinese mom.

2. Forest Kindergarten

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

书法班 Chinese Calligraphy Class

Chinese Calligraphy for Primary, Teenagers and Adults!





每逢星期日 10.30 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.
Clover Learning Centre
39, Jalan Tasek, Taman Tasek.

To view the profile of 罗绍光老师, click here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We are Featured in Tasek Newsletter!

We are featured in Tasek Newsletter (2nd issue)!

(Click on the image below to get a bigger & clearer view)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How to choose a good Montessori school?

The name Montessori is not patented. Hence, it can be used by anyone, for any purpose. It is important that anyone searching for a good Montessori school or Teacher-training centre be aware of this.

Many pre-schools incorporate Montessori methods, usually only the Practical Life and Sensorial activities. However, they are just using the activities outlined in the Montessori manual. As discussed earlier in my "What is Montessori" blog, there is a total of 5 areas in Montessori, and these 5 areas are intertwined. What a pity it will be if Practical Life and Sensorial are just stand-alone subjects.

In a Good School there will be:

1. Large space for movement. Children love to explore the world on their own since the day they could crawl. To be able to move freely is so important to help them keep peaceful mind. If a young child is forbidden to move for more than 20 minutes, the frustration built up in her may result in some undesirable behaviour.

2. A Teacher/ Directress does not give traditional classroom lessons, but implement lessons for each child according to her individual progress. This progress is recorded and kept to plan for future lessons for that child.

3. A FULL-RANGE of tested and proven Montessori materials in a clean, elegant, uncluttered environment.

4. The learning environment should be aesthetic and not over-stimulative. A learning environment with too many colours may distract a child instead of stimulating her.

5. Happy and kind children who are busy on self-chosen, uninterrupted work.

6. Children show initiative and love for learning.

Related blogs:

Related links:

Montessori Philosophy - The Soul of Early Childhood Teaching

Imagine all those little feet and little hands moving and working around an adult environment -- everything seems so huge to them. The tall tables, chairs and sink. The large and heavy bowls, plates and utensils. There is always a high chance to fail to do tasks independently due to the inability to handle the adult stuff or being stopped to do things.

"No! Don't touch the tea pot!" Is this something commonly heard when mummy sees her young child trying to pour a drink for herself?

How do we instill self-confidence and independence in a child if she always failed to do or is forbidden to do something for herself?

Maria Montessori had observed this more than 100 years ago and derived a philosophy which we all should take seriously.

1. Child-size furniture and household things should be available for the young children to manipulate on their own. This will help to develop their independence and self-confidence. They will take more intiatives to do things for themselves and the people around them.

2. Give them freedom, but within limitation. Some parents misunderstands that the Montessori method is giving children too much freedom. In fact, it is not true because Montessori gives a young child freedom to work within the ground rules. Hence, a child is clearly aware that she needs to be responsible for any actions that she is doing freely in the environment.

3. Child-centered teaching is important. Allow the child to express her thoughts and do things her way. If the way she does is incorrect, re-direct the child to the correct way by using positive language (e.g., "Hmm...may I show you the right way to work with this?"). There is no negative words or tone, a child is happy to let you correct her and willing to follow your way. Hence, no forcing is required.

4. Be a role-model yourself. Adults need to be good models for the children to learn from -- Action always speaks louder than words. There is no point in asking a child to keep quiet if we are the ones talking on top of our voice. They learn from us!

Related Blog:


What is Montessori?

"Montessori" is the family name of Maria Montessori, who developed the Montessori way of teaching. She was the first woman who graduated from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School, becoming the first female doctor in Italy.

(For more information about the history, please visit Wikipedia.)
(For a good overview of Montessori method of Teaching, please visit The International Montessori Index)

Montessori consists of TWO important elements, which are the Montessori Teaching Method and Montessori Philosophy. The Montessori Teaching Method is the "Body" and Montessori Philosophy is the "SOUL". These two elements cannot do without each other -- they have to complement each other so to help children achieve the following:

1. Develop a love for learning

2. Independence

3. High Self-esteem

4. Concentration level

5. Freedom within limitation

There are 5 areas in Montessori (Practical Life, Education of the Senses, Mathematics, Literacy, Cultural). These 5 areas are intertwined. Some activities in one area may be a preparation for another area. For example, learning how to arrange the Long Rods from the shortest to the longest is the education of the Visual Sense. This helps to prepare the child for Mathematics counting later when working with the Number Rods -- arranging fixed quantity rods from 1 to 10.

  • Practical Life activities can help to prepare a child to use a pencil to write later on because a lot of emphasis is on the strengthening of the pincer grip (first three fingers).

  • Education of the Senses includes Visual sense (dimensions & colours), Gustatory (taste), Olfactory (smell), Auditory (hearing), Tactile (touch), Baric (weight) and Thermic (temperature) senses.

    [To teach the concept of a map in the Cultural area, first we have to start from the Tactile lesson. The children need to understand the concept of Rough & Smooth in various activities, which leads them to understand water is smooth and land is rough. From here, we proceed to introduce them a globe with just water (smooth surface) and land (sandpaper). Then, we introduce the various continents on the globe. Next, we flatten the globe and it looks 2-D like a map.]

Note: There are a lot more examples that I can't list them all out here.

Related Blog: