Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give the Poor a Chance in Education

I always have a mission of my own to help the less fortunate, especially in Health and Education. This led me to read Psychology to learn more about human's mental health during my undergraduate days. Education has always been my passion. To provide education to others went a long way when I was a student, saving each penny overseas to pay for living expenses and also sponsoring kids in the third world. It lasted for a few years though, I had to stop and start pursuing my dream using the pennies saved.

Life goes on for me pretty well although stressful. I am happy now that I have two beautiful kids of my own, but I never stop thinking about those kids in the third world. With the birth of my second child, I am contented to have a good team as a family. It is also time to continue the mission of extending Education to the needies.

Hence, I have applied to sponsor two kids with World Vision, one for Clover, one for my husband and I. We shall continue to work towards sponsoring more kids in the future, locally or overseas, whenever help is needed.

It is not difficult to sponsor kids in the third world, we hope more people will join in to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another Inspiration - Bali Green School

This is another inspirational school that inspires me. It was reported on BBC, CNN, ABC and also on Malaysia Star newspaper. Bringing the children out in the nature for a lesson is a common thing to do at Bali Green School.
I have always been a dreamer since young, fantasizing various things that I can do in life. Most of the visions have been realised. For this, I have to thank my parents who created a business out of nothing but pure hardwork and humble attitudes towards life in order to provide for all the children in the family. Hence, I have developed empathy towards the less fortunate with my down-to-earth and humble background. At the same time, I have been exposed to various cultures when I did volunteer jobs at hospitals, schools and summer camps in Singapore, U.K. and the U.S.A. respectively.

After founding this Clover school, my principle is to provide something for the children to give back to the society. Yes, I want to provide the best education that I think for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and at the same time giving something back without monetary return. This is why our "ABC Music & Me" program for the 2 to 4-year-olds comes F.O.C. for parents.

However, this is definitely not enough to reach out to those less fortunate students who cannot afford good education. I have time and energy constraint. I hope one day I can do like what the Bali Green School is doing - giving out bursaries to the needies. This needs a good team of people to work together, I still need to find the ropes to do that.

In Bali Green School, the curriculum works towards the cambridge examinations. This does not hinder any of the curriculum which includes learning about the nature, hands-on with everything and anything, including eating plants and fruits everyday that the children are taught to plant and harvest. This is a dream school that I yearn to work in. I don't mind working for others again because I can do my part to help in contributing to the world.

Many parents told me I have done a lot for their child(ren), they are lucky to have found this little Clover land. However, I know it is still a long way to go to reach out to more, especially those who are less fortunate. Researching on Bali Green School will definitely give a light to my vision for Clover. My next step is to visit them, the people who make this "miracle" happen, to help me help those in need.

For information regarding the Bali Green School, please visit

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Excursion to Malay Cultural Village (31 July 2010)

This trip was planned to link to the Cultural theme that we are working on this year -- Malaysia Project.

The weather on the day before the excursion was real bad - stormy rain and greyish sky. I prayed on that night before going to bed for a nice weather, wishing hard for a good head start for the children at least in the next morning. I think my prayer was heard, thank you.

Our children looked smart wearing the Clover T-shirts. This design has been on my mind for a long time, wanting to make it simple without any advertisement (like the phone numbers or address) printed on the T. The children looked smart, and easy to be spotted on. Should have done this a long time ago.

Each child was also assigned a "buddy" to take care of, so that they were given a responsibility and would not run wild. They are all obedient kids, who were sensible to take care of themselves and at the same time keeping an eye on their "buddy".

One of the highlights was Batik Painting. The children were given a presentation of the materials used to make Batik, and how it was done. The interesting part was it was not difficult to paint Batik at all. We only needed to follow 3 simple steps -- Paint with water first, then the colour, then water again. That was it!

The children went off painting their Batik after the demonstration. It was quite an experience for them!

After the Batik painting, we visited the plantation. Lots of fruits were "missing". Some due to not harvesting, some due to the storm on the day before. What a disappointment. Nevertheless, it was fun to see the pewter-making demonstration. The manual peeling of the coconut husk was also very interesting. Strength and technique were the key-words. We were also shown the rubber-tapping procedure. Our tour guide (the lady in the orange T-shirt) asked the children to answer her quiz -- "Name three products made of rubber." Some of our older children gave the answers quickly, we were very proud of them.

We also made small tiny rubber balls using the latex from the rubber tree. However, most of our children's rubber balls were grey in colour, rather than the usual white. Guess their habit of touching things around them collected the dust on their little hands. If I could remember, only Tristan's rubber ball was white and bouncy.

The Malay Cultural dance was also very entertaining. The children were shown the ang klongs before the performance started.

They were also asked to sing Rasa Sayang. Luckily we had trained them to sing this song in school for the upcoming Parents Morning. We were very proud (really proud) of our children when they could sing this traditional Malay song loud and clear.

It was a very fulfilling trip. We, as teachers, enjoyed it as much as the children.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kindermusik Class for 0 to 18 months old!

ENROLL NOW for 18 Sep Intake
to avoid any disappointment!

The musical poems of Woody Gurthrie, bird songs and the naturally occurring sounds in nature help babies develop an early appreciation -- and accelerated aptitude -- for language, movement, and music in the class.

Your Home Materials (Imported from U.S.A.)

1. CD featuring songs from class.

2. Kindermusik Chime Ball

3. A picture board book (non-toxic) featuring the birds and their vocal sounds for vocal play.

4. A set of Art banners for the nursery wall that strengthens vision and promotes early literacy.

Lesson Start Date: 18 Sep 2010 (Saturday)

Lesson End Date: 20 Nov 2010 (Saturday)

Lesson Days: Once a week on Saturday (8 lessons)

Lesson Time: 10.15 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. (45 minutes lesson)

LAST ENROLLMENT DATE: 4 Sep 2010 (Saturday)

For further enquiries and details, please email us at


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Annual Kindermusician Workshop- Orff Shulwerk

I have always looked forward to the Annual Kindermusik workshop. Although this means we have to put aside our work and family for 3 whole days, and going back to the reality right after the training, it is always refreshing despite the tiredness.
Trying to remember it as long as I can what we have been taught in the 3 days is something that is very hard for me too. Especially when I am expecting now. However, this year is the best year that I think the workshop has suited me. Very, very well-written notes by Ginette really helps me to concentrate more on the practical of the workshop than requires me to jot down the notes by myself. Thank you Ginette, you are the best!

This workshop has opened my eyes to the work of Orff Shulwerk, and how PROCESS always matters more than results. The pedagogy is so step-by-step that I feel it is easy for the young children to perform a complicated work in a simple way!

Shirin, our other Kindermusik@Clover educator, has also enjoyed it very much!

Our group project -- coming up with a performance on instruments and entertainment within 2 hours, is never a tough task for great Kindermusician!
This is our dear Ginette. Being a friend, colleague and trainer, she has shown her patience and competencies to help us reach to another level. Love you Ginette!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dances for Boys & Girls!


Let your child join in the fun of learning dancing!

This class is opened for children 4 to 7 years old to develop the fundamental skills of dancing - rhythmic movement with music.

Your child will be trained the basics (e.g., leap, slide, gallop) and dance in synchronity with the music phrases to prepare him/her for both professional & leisure dancing later.

Why sign up?
Because our dance instructor has over 20 years of experience in teaching professional dancing. Your child will be exposed to various dance movements before choosing which is the most suitable for him/her later. Most importantly, it is FUN!

Lesson: Every Monday 2.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.

Lesson start date: 5 July 2010 (Monday

Contact Us: 012-7063230

Enroll by 28 July to enjoy 15% discount!

Monday, June 7, 2010

1 New Class for Kindermusik "Milk & Cookies" (18 months to 3 years old)!

Due to over-whelming response, we are opening up 1 more class for this semester!
Enrol now to avoid any disappointment!

"Milk & Cookies" empowers the parent to lead the child through familiar everyday home activities such as cooking, dusting and washing clothes. Baking cookies, eating cupcakes, blowing on hot cross buns, wiggling like jelly, going grocery shopping and making teas are all represented in familiar songs and activities!
Your Home Materials:

1. Double CD features 50 songs, sounds, and recordings of favourite activities from class.

2. Two story books - "At My House" and "Cookies", to develop early literacy skills.

3. Home Activity Book

4. Stir Xylophone (FUN!!)

Lessons are conducted on Saturdays, once a week. There are 15 lessons for this theme (1 semester).

Semester Start Date: 19 June 2010 (Saturday)
Semester End Date: 9 Oct 2010 (Saturday)

Lesson Start Time:

(Group A): 10 a.m. - 10.45 a.m.
(Group B): 11.15 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Last Enrollment Date: 12 June 2010 (Saturday)

Please email us at for:

1. All lesson dates for this theme/ semester.

2. Lesson Fees and Home Materials price.

3. Any other registration enquiries.


Kindermusik for 0 to 18 months old!

This class is almost full! Enrol now to avoid any disappoinment!
Pick up your baby and dance! Dance the Charleston, the Tango, the Cha-Cha and learn why dancing with your baby helps develop vital learning skills - from head-to-toe. In this class, play a variety of baby appropriate instruments, a dance with fun props.

Your Home Materials (imported from U.S.A.)
- CD featuring songs from class
- 1 yellow egg shaker & 1 Kindermusik scarf
- A picture board book (non-toxic) Do-Si-Do with lithing move-to-it rhyming text.
- A set of Art banners for the nursery wall that strengthens vision and promotes early literacy.

Lessons are conducted on Saturdays, once a week. There are 8 lessons for this theme (1 semester).

Semester Start Date: 26 June 2010 (Saturday)

Semester End Date: 21 Aug 2010 (Saturday)

Last Enrollment Date: 12 June 2010 (Saturday)

Please email us at for:

1. All lesson dates for this theme/ semester.

2. Lesson Fees & Home Materials price.

3. Any other registration enquiries.

Kindermusik @ Clover

Friday, June 4, 2010

Come Join Us in Children & Adult Ballet!

An education in Dance that should be experienced by everyone!

We are proud to have Mrs D' Silva,
who has over 20 years of teaching experience in Ballet,
to impart ballet skills to adults & children at our centre.
Ballet for Children
(4.5 to 8 years old)
Lesson Day: Every Saturday
Lesson Time: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
We prepare our students for the
Grades Examinations and
Vocational Examinations
of the
Royal Academy of Dance,
United Kingdom.
Ballet for Adults
Lessons on every Sunday:
(Group A) 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.
(Group B) 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m.
There is no age limit to learning Ballet.
Enrol for our 3-month course in Ballet.
We are confident you will wish to continue, and later on dance on your toes too!
Fore more information and to enrol, please contact:
Ms Toh: 012-7063230 (Johor Bahru)
Mrs D' Silva: 07-2245671 / 016-7569256 (Johor Bahru)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Teacher's Day!

Happy Teacher's Day!
Our lovely children made Teacher's Day card for each Teacher. What a pity, some children were absent on that day. We also missed Auntie Shirin on that day. (From left: Auntie Chaz Yee, Auntie Latifah, Auntie Margaret, Auntie Liew, Auntie Rozah).

God Make Teachers
Author Unknown~

God understood our thirst for knowledge,
and our need to be led by someone wiser;

He needed a heart of compassion,
of encouragement, and

Someone who would accept the challenge
regardless of the opposition;

Someone who could see potential
and believe in the best in others...

So He made Teachers.


The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. ~ Mark Van Doren

A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others. ~ Author unknown

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. ~ Thomas Carruthers
(This is so true in Montessori!)

A good teacher is a master of simplification and an enemy of simplism. ~ Louise A. Berman
(This is what we have been doing!)

About Us

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:


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Are Practical Life activities so Important?

YES. Practical Life is very important for young children to help them grow and develop in both practical and academic ways.

Practical Life activities can be as simple as pouring and transferring beans / rice/ sand/ water from one container to another with different utensils. They can also involve many other lifeskill activities in our daily lives. Many parents may have mistaken Practical Life as play, but it is not. It is a set of skills to help children get around the world. What else? Let me do a quick review here:

The main aims of Practical Life activities are to:
1. Refine a skill

2. Develop eye-hand coordination.

3. Develop concentration level -- While concentration level is developed, there is always repetition in order for them to master the skill.

**(Many parents whom I have met told me about their children having no concentration in doing their homework. Well, this may largely be due to no practical life activities being introduced before their children reached the age of 7 years old. So, do extend the practical life activities at home even if the school is offering this area of learning.)

4. Develop independence -- This is definitely achieved once they master the skill. They will be very happy to do things for themselves. So, no help from anyone please.

5. Develop self-confidence -- Yeah! They feel so good about themselves that they are eager to do things for themselves and people around them. This also initiates the love of learning in other areas like science and math, because they are confident!

6. Pincer grip -- Their small muscles in the first three fingers (thumb, index and middle fingers) are strengthened when they do practical life (think about it, don't you use these fingers much more than the ringman and pinky? E.g., cutting with scissors, using chopsticks, holding pencil while writing). **This prepares them for writing later on.**

Children at work @ Clover (Montessori, Johor Bahru)

Celeste was transferring and sorting small little beads with a tweezer. High level of concentration is needed in order to develop the eye-hand coordination. Look at her "do not disturb me" look :).

Bong Yi pegging his work at the line. Pegging is a Practical Life activity that directly helps to develop pincer grip.

Some 5 and 6 year-olds were learning how to make Milo, Chinese Tea and Coffee in their Practical Life lesson. They are ready to make drinks for their family members at home! :)

What a good helper Jia Le will be at the kitchen next time. He will have no problem filling up his tum even when he goes for a camping trip.

Learning how to take care of themselves is another important Practical Life lesson. Brushing teeth is a must-learn lesson. Heard from Tristan's mom that Tristan has been taking initiatives to brush his teeth after this lesson. Great impact!


Friday, March 26, 2010

The lil' musicians at Parents Morning 2009

The children at our centre performed at the Parents Morning 2009 (November). They showcased what they had learned throughout the year in their ABC Music & Me (created by Kindermusik) lessons.

The 2 to 4 year-olds were much easier to manage than the 4 to 6 year-olds. The younger ones followed instructions and developed great listening skills throughout the course and ta-da! They were perfect during their performance of pretending to be little Robins searching for food by following the musical cues. This was a great achievement for the children! I was so proud of them. Some parents feedbacked it was a great success!

Also thanks to the teachers who took great pain in sewing all the sequins for the wings and bibs!

The little Robins woke up as they heard the cues for the Sun to come out.

They started flying high upon hearing the ascending sounds of the bells and gradually flying low upon hearing the descending sounds of the bells.

The little Robins started to hop on the ground to look for food when they heard the staccato notes.

The 4 to 6-year olds were usually over-excited during their ABC Music & Me classes that they were harder to manage. They told me they loved the lessons so much that they started dancing non-stop even though I asked them to stop. I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I heard this. I wanted them to develop listening skill, so it really took me about 6 to 8 months to really know how to manage them.

Nevertheless, they were a lovely bunch. During the practice sessions for the Parents Morning, they cooperated. No one made any fuss when they were asked to be fixed to just one type of instrument being assigned to them. They were able to do the call-and-response rhthym using the drum and the sticks and play their little instruments in an ensemble. Bravo! I was also thanking god that I could take the role of the conductor due to my school-day experience of being a student conductor in the Chinese Orchestra! So what I did when I was young really came into handy.

Oscar playing the drum to the rhythm of tas and ti-tis. The other children responded to his drum rhythm by playing their sticks. Hence, the results were the sticks being the echoes of the drum.

During an ensemble to the Twinkle Dance, they really exercised their steady beats with their instruments. Zhi Hui, Oscar, Uma and Kareena played the major part of the music, Jia Jun, Jeslyn and Royce played the minor part. They all played in unison at the last part of the music.

They were not nervous at all with the spotlights on them! I love them all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The death of MCI in Singapore

My colleague wants to take up Montessori International Diploma in Singapore and I encourage her to sign up with Montessori Centre International (MCI, U.K.) since it has been acclaimed to have one of the highest rating in the Montessori Pedagogy internationally.

However, she found out the MCI pedagogy course is no longer available in Singapore because the new policy disregards Montessori Teaching Diploma certificate. Pre-school teachers are to take up the Early Childhood course accredited by MCYS and MOE. So now those who already have an International Diploma in Montessori need to take the Early Childhood Edcucation course "again" before being able to teach in pre-schools. Many of the curriculums are overlapped with Montessori Diploma course. Will this be a waste of time? This is a question that many Montessorians have been discussing with one another.

So now, MCI has vanished in Singapore. But Modern Montessori International (MMI) is still standing strong, because they have opened many Montessori enrichment centres. This means Montessori Diploma holders can still teach in these centres. However, enrichment centres enroll students by subjects. Who will want to enroll their child just to Practical Life or Sensorial course? Hence, these two important child development subjects are totally absent in enrichment centres.

Now, has Montessori really become a Teaching Method without a soul? A school that uses Montessori materials to teach does not mean that it will achieve the results of a real Montessori school. The Montessori Philosophy is the SOUL of Montessori methods. This Philosophy is so powerful that both children and teachers are transformed by it.

There are 5 areas/subjects in Montessori (i.e., Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Literacy, Cultural). These 5 areas are intertwined. I have talked more about why Practical Life activites are so important in an Early Childhood setting in my other blog entry.

Related blogs:

1. What is Montessori?

2. Montessori Philosophy - The Soul of Early Childhood Teaching

3. Are Practical Life activities so important?

4. Peaceful Learning Environment

Related link:

1. Pre-school Teacher Training & Qualifications (Ministry of Education, Singapore)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peaceful Learning Environment

I have been working in Montessori schools in Singapore and Johor Bahru since my Montessori Teacher's Training days. There is always one thing in common -- peaceful and calm learning environment. The children are usually working on their own activities quietly, and of course this comes with ground rules.

Rules are always set in the environment, but for children to carry out those rules with own willingness is quite an art. This has got a lot to do with the Montessori philosophy -- the Teachers have to carry themselves with grace. We cannot rush here or there, even when we really need to. We always need to keep our composure and be calm. Children get influenced by us. This can extend to outside the school too when Parents can keep their composure and be a role model in terms of behaviour and speech.

I do take this peacefullness in our learning environment for granted until some teachers from other traditional preschools visit our centre. The first thing that they always comment is that our centre is so peaceful and quiet. They would say children in their schools are always rowdy and Teachers always need to shout on top of their lungs to cover the children's voice to keep their voices down.

There is another reason for the rowdiness of children in traditional school settings. Children need movement, especially pre-schoolers. Since they learn to crawl, they can't wait to explore the world. Hence, it is normal for a pre-schooler not being able to sit still for more than 20 minutes. They need to move about. Montessori environment requires the children to move about to select activities from the shelves. The need of movement is fulfilled. This makes them calmer and more willing to oblige. However, in a traditional school setting, children have their own designated desks and they are required to sit there and attend lessons. The need of movement is not fulfilled and they get frustrated.

Related Books:

The Secret of Childhood (Maria Montessori, 1982) - This book goes a long way in helping the argument that the child-centered approach is the finest way to create great adults from children.

The Discovery of the Child (Maria Montessori, 1982) - Maria Montessori discusses the array of materials and techniques needed to release a child's learning potential.