First an MSS parent then an adult learner, today a Montessori teacher

Introduction: 

Teaching materials are only tools. The most important is the Montessori educational philosophy.




By Joe (Jing Kids)

 

As a devoted mother, we are driven to protect our children. What does it mean to protect, nurture and guide this gift of life we hold so dear to our hearts?  Jeanine, a Singaporean, is neither a Tiger mom nor a Permissive mom. She practices imparting the core values of Montessori philosophy to her children “freedom with limits”, which she observed practice when her two children attended the Montessori School of Shanghai (MSS).

 

After observing her children’s positive progress and attending parent education workshops offered at the Montessori School of Shanghai her inquisitive nature led her to making a career change to become a Montessori teacher.  She enrolled in a Montessori course offered by the Trinity Montessori Education Center (TMEC) and completed a practicum which opened her eyes to the wonders of the young mind. 

How did she make it?

 

A Montessori campus hidden in the downtown

Jeanine was born in Singapore. She moved to Shanghai and started her small family with her husband in 2011. Her son was born in 2012. Two years later, they began thinking about their son’s pre-school education. Which kindergarten? A friend told her that there was a good kindergarten near Huaihai Road. So, after making an appointment, she went to the MSS Xuhui Campus for a visit located in downtown.

 

As soon as she entered the campus, she was amazed by the large lawns and gardens -- in the city center where land is scarce, such outdoor activity space can be described as luxury.


Jeanine knew being close to nature would be a great experience for her children. She was impressive with the Montessori concept introduced by a teacher -- freedom with limits, which aligned with her desire to support her children in gaining independence and a desire to care for themselves.  The decision was made.  Soon after her visit, her son was enrolled in MSS. Two years later, her daughter was ready to begin her journey in this beautifully designed environment.

 

What did Janine’s children gain from their Montessori education experiences, which advocated love, freedom of movement, thinking, equality and independence?

 

More independent, confident with Grace & Courtesy

Jeanine remembered clearly that her son was able to independently prepare for sleep within a few months. He prepared the bed well, then covered himself gently with a blanket and began to lie quietly to fall asleep.

Jeanine wondered: "Is that what you do in school?"

The son said confidently: "Yeah, I do that every day."

 

Montessori education taught Jeanine's children to take care of themselves, and more importantly to care for others.  Her children prepare snacks,  cut apples and fruits at home, and enjoy putting on their jackets in what they call the  "Montessori Way" rater then randomly pushing their arms into their sleeves. She values their polite and generous nature.  Recently, her son reminded her how special this experience was as her son held the door open for her when she went out.  “How nice it was for my child to take care of me. Such a gentleman!”, Janine shared. Her children gained so much and truly enjoyed their time in the kindergarten.  Jeanine knows she chose the right school and the right educational path children which has changed their lives forever. But why did she change her career and became a Montessori teacher?

 

When Jeanine met TMEC

It started from the Parent Education Workshop organized by MSS. Jeanine participated in a series of lectures and book clubs, where she learned Montessori at home, Montessori mathematics, and family parenting ideas. Once, the training instructor introduced the training program of TMEC (Trinity Montessori Education Center, TMEC and MSS belong to Zion Educational Group).  Jeanine’s curiosity led her contact the program administrator to get more details. 

 

The Montessori course offered by TMEC is accredited by Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) includes 315 hours academic training and 540 hours of practicum over the course of 10 months in a Montessori classroom. 

 

Jeanine knew the Montessori philosophy was a match for her. She wanted to learn everything she could about the Montessori approach.  She wanted to be a part this way of sharing education with children.   The timing was right, her daughter was in school, she time to make this choice for her own interest.  She was in a right place at the right time, so took the big step to commit to the challenge of becoming an adult learner to learn about this fascinating way with children.

 

TMEC offers two courses, Infant and Toddler (Birth-3) or Early Childhood (3-6). Jeanine chose Early Childhood. Many of the instructors have an international academic background and are experience in teaching the Montessori method for many years.  The courses are taught in English, with professional translators to ensure the accuracy of the course contents. The classes include lecture and group discussion, which include comparing characteristics of the early childhood education from the perspective of different education systems and discussing classic topics such as "Nature vs. Nurture" (Talent vs Nurture). Although discussions often did not lead to unified conclusion, they made Jeanine and her classmates to think further. 

 

TMEC has a unique advantage to other Montessori training centers. Students are generally placed on one of four beautifully designed campuses ( West Hongqiao, Xuhui, Minhang or  Jiading ) to complete a practicum over the course of the academic year from September to June of each year along with 315 hours of theoretical study. The practicum is an important phase of of teacher training. The experience with children in carefully designed classrooms with an experienced master teacher. Throughout the year, field consultants who have extensive experience in the Montessori classroom, provide on-site observations and consult and set goals with the student which supports the learning process. For the practicum period, Jeanine followed her mentor’s advice and stayed in the same campus for an entire school year. Over the course of the year, a teacher can fully observe children’s academic, social emotional growth. The support of the instructors, field consultant and master teacher helped Jeanine bring her inspiring thoughts into action which one can observe today.

 

From a parent to a teacher, role change brings new gains from different perspectives

During the practicum, Jeanine was placed at the MSS Xuhui campus where her daughter was enrolled. Starting as an observer, a Montessori substitute teacher, and now as the lead Montessori teacher has been a professional journey and reward.

 

When she was asked if she gain a new view of Montessori education after her role was expanded from a parent to a teacher, Jeanine said “When I first touch Montessori teaching materials at the MSS Parent Education workshop, they seemed very good. But after completing my teacher training at TMEC, I soon realized that the teaching materials are only tools. It is the Montessori's educational philosophy, as well as the teaching of adults' words and expressions that are more important. Academics are important, but the development of an independent personality, good social habits and care of self are the most important.”

 

“Give us an example of something you taught your children today when they were young. Taking a bath is a good example I can share with you”, shared Janine. “My children began to bathe themselves when they were 4 years old. I taught them how to adjust the water temperature and how to make bubbles. Each time they finish my daughter asks me in her happy voice, ‘Mom, do I still have bubbles on my head?’ It isn’t as important that a child is perfectly clean. Practice will make each bath better. Learning requires practice and the freedom to go through processes without someone doing everything for you. We must always be careful that we don’t limit children’s potential by doing more for them than they need. Parents must give space to children in moderation, so they can practice, learn and practice again! ”


In the Montessori classroom, children learn how to use real knives (child-friendly size), set the table with cups and dishes made of glass,  using these tools in real and practical ways is a joy for children. “ When children know glass is breakable, they are more careful ”, Jeanine said.


When it came to the topic of developing good habits, Jeanine shared thought of eating.  So often, you see parents feeding their children when in fact they could and would love to feed themselves.  Once her son saw a child at the table next to them eating and playing with an iPad, when Jeanine took her children out for a meal.  Her son asked:

"Mom, why does he watch cartoons while eating, but I can't?"

She did not answer directly, but instead asked: "Do you enjoy your food now? Does it taste delicious?"

"Delicious."

"Do you think the little boy playing with the iPad is enjoying his food and thinks it is d is delicious?"

"Look at our table, the whole family is enjoying food together and chatting together. If you only look at electronic products, we cannot have a conversation with each other, right?"

 

After hearing this, her son became thoughtful. Jeanine said, although he was young, in fact, he was very observant.  Adults must set an  example, be a good model and be consistent in the principles they want their children to emulate.


As a parent, Jeanine, sometimes feels anxious, and worries as all parents do, that her children may lag "behind" their peers because they don’t attend extracurricular classes. However, after becoming a Montessori teacher, Jeanine understood more about developing children’s basic cognitive skills, such as independent thinking, observation, respect for others, and perception of life, rather than learning specific rote skills.

 

Inspired by Montessori education, Jeanine values time for her children to develop interpersonal interactions, cherish food, to enjoy nature which are all required in order to develop a healthy lifestyle. With the influence of this family education philosophy, her children truly love nature, enjoy gardening, and observing the miraculous wonder of watching seeds germinate and insects metamorphose. Janine’s children do not attend cram school, but love sports and piano playing without utilitarian purpose.

 

"My son is now in elementary school and still likes asking questions. This is an important value I want to instill in my children. Being curious along with the ability to focus and concentrate learning will be enjoyed and unstoppable. Good grades will follow." Jeanine shared.