Be part of the Kiddie Toes Montessori School Family!

Our elementary level follows the Progressive Education Method. We also use the Singapore Math Curriculum.

The Progressive Education’s main objective is to educate the "whole child" (physical, emotional and intellectual)

• Emphasis on learning by doing (experiential learning)
• Integrated curriculum focused on thematic units
• Strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking
• Group work and development of social skills
• Collaborative and cooperative learning projects
• Education for social responsibility and democracy
• Integration of community service and service learning projects into the daily curriculum
• Selection of subject content by looking forward to ask what skills will be needed in future society
• De-emphasis on textbooks in favor of varied learning resources
• Emphasis on life-long learning and social skills

School facilities

- Airconditioned classrooms
- Highly qualified Teachers
- Imported learning materials
- English as the medium of instruction
- Spacious play area
- Ideally located in the center of the city
- Comfortable waiting area

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Overcoming Fear, Building a Future


from Natural Life Magazine, November/December 2010

Overcoming Fear, Building a Future
by Kelly Coyle DiNorcia

Choosing progressive educational opportunities for our children and our society

Wellspring Community School, our small independent school in New Jersey, has recently hosted a number of outreach events that have brought many new people into our midst – educators, grandparents, parents, children, and other members of our community. Parents, especially, frequently comment about how welcoming and appealing our space and people are, and often leave full of enthusiasm for our particular embodiment of the philosophy of holistic education. However, more often than not they ultimately select a more traditional educational setting for their children.

We often wonder why people are so full of interest after visiting us, only to later decide that our school is not a good choice for them. Parents who have a viscerally positive reaction while in our classroom go home and create a boatload of excuses as to why our school would not fulfill their children’s needs. Why is this? I ask myself how we can better reach potential families with our vision of filling the world with inspired children who are happy, creative, and active members of a local and global community.

This is a vital question for the future of progressive education, and I imagine it is one asked around the world by those of us seeking to grow a larger movement while sustaining our schools and life learning opportunities. I think the answer to this question lies in our willingness as a culture to abdicate responsibility for our lives and our children in a very fundamental way. (I would like to insert here a recognition of the fact that not all families are biological, and that families created by adoption or  other non-biological means often must jump through all manner of hoops in order to secure their rights as parents, whether they like it or not.) This begins before children are even born, when many parents choose a physician and follow her orders without questioning. Once a child is born, the pediatrician becomes the arbiter of good parenting in many ways. Many parents are beholden to their doctors’ advice when it comes time to choose which if any drugs they put into their children’s bodies, how to ensure that the young people in their care reach developmental milestones “on time,” even what detergent they use to wash an infant’s clothing.

For questions that arise between well-visits to the pediatrician, parents consult any of a burgeoning number of books that can be found at bookstores or libraries. These books are granted the status of user manuals (if not religious texts) as parents use the authors’ advice to guide them through the difficult, messy, and exhausting terrain of living with young children. If you want sleep, you’re told to leave your child to cry in his crib for this number of minutes before going in to comfort (but not hold) him, and then leave him for this number of minutes and so on until he is quiet. A fever of this particular degree warrants a call to the doctor, and this other temperature should send you straight to the emergency room. Even clothing for young children is labeled by age, so that my two-year-old who is still wearing eighteen month clothing is somehow not quite right, at least according to Carter’s or Gymboree or Gap Kids.

Soon it is time for the young child to begin school, and parents are faced with a decision that is often perceived to be the most momentous of all. Education is seen as preparation for adulthood and career (or at least work), so the start of a child’s school years is make it or break it time. Most parents, when faced with this milestone in a child’s life, send their children to public school or, if they can afford it, to a traditionally-structured private school.

A growing number of parents are beginning to have niggling doubts about what is going on in our schools. Large class sizes, high-stakes testing, curriculum developed by bureaucrats rather than educators, teachers hired by their position on the pay scale rather than their qualifications, even school lunches made from highly processed government-purchased surplus rather than fresh, healthy, local ingredients – these things make many parents uncomfortable. However, most parents set aside their discomfort and send their children off to the neighborhood kindergarten anyway. Some of them are not aware of the alternatives. Some are aware but simply cannot afford the expense of a private education or do not have the option of homeschooling due to employment or other concerns. Other parents are genuinely committed to the ideal of quality free education for all children and work to improve the system from within. Some of these parents are the ones who visit progressive schools like ours, are enchanted by what they see happening there, and still choose public or conservative private schools.

Why? The short answer, in my opinion, is fear. By abdicating responsibility, we also free ourselves from accountability. If we do what the doctor says and things don’t turn out well, it’s the doctor’s fault, or if not the doctor then it’s the medical system, or the pharmaceutical companies, or the malpractice insurance providers. In any case, the fault is definitely not ours. If we send our child to school and she doesn’t read “on time” or fails to achieve acceptable scores on standardized tests, then the school has failed her despite our best efforts. After all, we did what the experts told us to do. We did our part. Once we take on the responsibility of researching our options and making our own choices, we become responsible for the outcome as well. We have no one to blame but ourselves if things turn out to be less than perfect. That scares most parents.

When parents come to visit our school, they do not ask us if our students are content, or motivated, or curious. Naturally, visitors do not really have to ask because they can clearly see that our students are all these things. But the sad truth is that these are not the things parents are really concerned with anyway. They want to know when the children learn to read and write, and how they compare to their public school contemporaries in mathematical abilities. They want to know if their children, if educated in this way, will be able to compete with their traditionally-schooled peers when it comes time for high school or college or “life.” Even parents who realize that a child’s learning and potential cannot and should not be quantified still find some reassurance in assigning numbers as indicators of educational performance and possibility. They are comforted in the belief that test scores provide some useful information, as well as providing a clear, attainable goal. Eschewing statistics in favor of more esoteric things like portfolios and subjective observation takes a leap of faith. That scares parents, too.

As a parent, I can certainly relate to the fear. Of course, I worry that my children may not find success and happiness. I want them to be safe, healthy, and fulfilled. But in the words of Antoine De Saint-Exupery, “Those of us who understand life couldn’t care less about numbers!” As an educator I know that numbers are less a guarantee and more a security blanket. I know that doing things the way they have always been done is often a sign of stagnation rather than success. I know that children are better served in the long-term by learning about cooperation and community than conformity. Most importantly for me, as a product of the traditional school system who was considered a model student – a “gifted” student, even – I know that I have spent the entirety of my adult life trying to overcome the training I received there.

More and more parents are choosing progressive educational settings for their children, both in schools and at home. Instead of being motivated by fear of what they do not want for their children, these parents are courageously setting their sights on what they do want. It is encouraging to see the availability of educational alternatives growing, yet the original question still remains. How can we get more people to set aside the fear, step outside their comfort zone, and join us as we build a new system of education where children’s bodies, minds, and spirits are valued and nurtured?

In the end, when visitors to our school ask how our students compare to traditionally-schooled children, the true answer is that we really do not know. Insofar as we reject the quantification of children’s essential qualities, we may never be able to answer this question to anyone’s satisfaction, since the evidence we offer is anecdotal. Yet on the other hand, the very fact that the traditionally schooled individual is held up as the benchmark against whom alternatively schooled children are measured is based on a rather bold assumption that the predominant system for schooling children is effective. In our rapidly changing world, no one can say with any degree of certainty that any system of education will adequately prepare young people to be adult members of society in ten or twenty years. No one even knows what that means; much less does anyone know how to prepare children for it. We are all taking a huge leap of faith when it comes to raising and teaching our children, albeit some of us with a greater sense of security (false or otherwise) than others.

I wish that there were some easy answer whereby we could quickly grow a broad and strong progressive education movement based on respecting children and equipping them with self-confidence, curiosity, problem-solving skills, and a deeply-ingrained sense of community. I believe that such a system of education will benefit not only my own children but the entire Earth and all her inhabitants. I am grateful that our movement is gaining traction and momentum, even if this is happening at a slower pace than I would like.

We must continue to grow a movement for progressive educational alternatives by seeking out educational communities that speak to us as parents, educators, and individuals while recognizing that this means something different for each child and family. We must support all manner and type of alternatives, because freedom is only meaningful when options exist. We can spread the word within our circle of friends, family, and acquaintances about the choices we make and the reasons behind these choices. We should make use of the tools of social media to reach an even wider audience with our ideas. The people who share our vision will find us, and we will continue to grow as a grassroots movement of people seeking a stronger, more sustainable future for our children and our planet. As Krishnamurti says, true revolution “comes about through cultivating the integration and intelligence of human beings who, by their very life, will gradually create radical changes in society,” and we must continue to cultivate our young children to bring about change.

Kelly Coyle DiNorcia is a writer, educator, and mother of two children: a daughter who is a student at Wellspring Community School in Gladstone, New Jersey and a son who is two years old and still doing his learning at home. She earned her M.Ed. from Cambridge College through their partnership with the Institute for Humane Education. This article has also been published in Education Revolution Magazine.

This is one of a limited number of articles from Natural Life magazine that are available on this website for free. To read more articles like this, please subscribe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Google thanks Montessori

Sergey Brin, one of the Google founders talks about how AUTHENTIC Montessori education made him who is he is now.


Click on this YouTube link:
Sergey Brin talks about his Montessori education

Photo source: internet

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What is a Progressive School

Progressive School: Fact or Fiction?

Posted on March 15, 2011 8

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard a professor from a prestigious university said that there is no such thing as a progressive school in the Philippines and if there is, then they’re just making things up. WOW! That blew my mind. I wanted to automatically face that professor and tell him a piece of my mind until I realized.. hey, we ARE making things up! We’re making up a curriculum from the interests of our students, we’re making up activities that are integrated through the subjects and we are making up projects that stem from the imagination of our students!

A lot of misconceptions are being bandied about our beloved progressive schools that I think it’s about time to clear some things up.

1. “Progressive schools encourage noisy, rowdy and disrespectful students. The students are so free that there isn’t any order anymore.”

FICTION. Progressive schools encourage children to be outspoken and allow their ideas to be heard. Someone who is used to the convent-like silence of traditional and montessori schools may read this to be misbehavior or rowdiness. But stop for a second and LISTEN to the noise. You’ll be surprised on what you can harvest from all that conversation. Ideally, the teachers are part of the “noise” too. Their role is to manage the ideas and words of their students and keep boundaries on how students should be speaking to one another and to other adults.

Freedom may sometimes be read as lack of order. There is order but not the order that we have been used to growing up in a traditional school. I know the term “organized chaos” has grossly been abused but that’s the best description of the feistyness that we see in students of progressive schools. They’re free to speak their minds however they are not free to be disrespectful in their words. They’re free to be angry at someone yet they’re not free to hit in anger.

2. Where are the worksheets and textbooks? Progressive Schools have no curriculum.

FICTION. There IS a curriculum. There IS a guide called a scope and sequence that teachers follow to check the skill level of each class. It’s the flexibility of implementing the curriculum that creates an illusion that it doesn’t exist. Why can the teacher change activities during class? Why are there no preschool textbooks? This is not a loss of structure. This is the adaptation of the structure to the ones who are in the center of it — the students.

Activities do not necessarily equate to a worksheet. As much as additional learning does not equate to homework. Nor does a textbook equate to the best source for a particular topic. Alfie Kohn, narrated it well in his article, Progressive Education: Why it’s hard to beat but also hard to find (2008)

And then (as my audiences invariably point out) there are parents who have never been invited to reconsider their assumptions about education. As a result, they may be impressed by the wrong things, reassured by signs of traditionalism — letter grades, spelling quizzes, heavy textbooks, a teacher in firm control of the classroom — and unnerved by their absence. Even if their children are obviously unhappy, parents may accept that as a fact of life. Instead of wanting the next generation to get better than we got, it’s as though their position was: “Listen, if it was bad enough for me, it’s bad enough for my kids.” Perhaps they subscribe to what might be called the Listerine theory of education, based on a famous ad campaign that sought to sell this particular brand of mouthwash on the theory that if it tasted vile, it obviously worked well. The converse proposition, of course, is that anything appealing is likely to be ineffective. If a child is lucky enough to be in a classroom featuring, say, student-designed project-based investigations, the parent may wonder, “But is she really learning anything? Where are the worksheets?” And so the teachers feel pressure to make the instruction worse.

I rest my case.

3. Progressive schools do not let students memorize facts. The students don’t learn anything.

FACT and FICTION. Why both? Well, progressive schools do not aim for students to recite facts from rote memorization. Progressive schools aim for students to understand the facts and therefore having them remember them longer.
Every time I asses a preschooler and I ask him to tell me the days of the week, almost always that child will sing them to me. This is because during Morning Message in circle time, their teacher sings the Days of the Week song, writes down the day whether it was Monday, Tuesday, etc and highlights each letter in the word. The child then remembers all the days with an idea on how to spell each of them. This activity is appropriate for young students because they’re fond of singing, they love circle time and they can relate with the letters on the board specially because their teacher points out “M is for Monday. Hey, it ‘s also the first letter of your name, Matthew!”
Now compare this to a child whose teacher just makes him memorize Monday to Sunday like a drill sergeant everyday. He may be able to remember this during a test but I’m sure he will completely forget this after. There is no connection to his real and everyday life.

4. The students are having too much fun. They’re just playing and not learning anything.

Who ever said that learning should not be fun? Or that there can never be anything learned by playing? I wonder how that person is as an adult… In the days of the dinosaurs (ok, I exaggerate..), children were pictured chained to their desks, seriously writing on a piece of paper when in school or when in the process of learning something. This image, in reality, hasn’t left the memory of today’s parents. There is a stigma when a child utters the sentence, “Oh, we just play in school.” It’s like laughter does not equate to active learning.

The Disney movie “Monster’s Inc.” depicted a monster world whose primary source of energy was children’s screams of fear. Their energy supply was so low because children were not easily scared anymore. They then realized that children’s laughter offered 10 times more energy after a child accidentally laughed in their power plant. I wonder when this accident can happen in our world?!

Fun is socially not equated with learning because the concept of school was not equated with a place to have fun. And we wonder why as adults we also view ourselves in the workplace with a ball and chain.

There are numerous other fictional or might I say, urban legends about progressive schools. But the number one enemy of the philosophy being implemented in them are traditional expectations. Even after numerous parent seminars or orientations about what a progressive school represents, it is still a struggle for progressive schools to break the barrier that our traditional upbringing has seared in our ideas about education. Sadly, some progressive schools have been swayed to just adapt to this traditional pressure rather than uphold the progressive philosophy.Let’s hope they also read this post.