Rajiv is a Business Leader with over 25 years of experience in Education industry in India, APAC, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean, across the continuum of Skill Development, Employability and K-12 segments. In his current role as Director-Operations at GIIS, Rajiv is responsible for business development, overseeing all operational matters related to infrastructure, academics, affiliation, compliances, recruitment & training, finances and driving the profitability & growth agenda of GIIS’s School business in India. In his past engagements with Aptech, NIIT, Pearson & HCL he has managed P&L, created products & services, set up distribution channels and leveraged technology for education delivery. While at NIIT, Rajiv executed large and complex projects, notably in setting up IT centres of excellence in Latin America & the Caribbean, which required working closely with various government bodies, diplomats, and academic institutions on either side.
With the growing number of learning options available these days, it is a bit natural for parents to get engulfed in a cloud of confusion regarding the best study model for their child. Early childhood development is no more limited to playgroups and kindergartens. The growing research in technology and understanding the psyche of learners has resulted in the innovation of several new learning formats for kindergartners, each claiming to be better than the other.
Montessori School of Learning
Introduced in 1870 by acclaimed physician Dr. Maria Montessori in Italy, the Montessori system of learning believes that children can develop skills like speaking, reading, and writing as a natural process of early childhood development without the need of any formal education or training.
What is the Montessori Model?
In the Montessori model of learning, teachers play a very unobtrusive role in the child’s learning and development. The teacher introduces the students to an activity and then observes their progress on how they individually approach the activity in their own accord without any external directions. In this way, the child/ student is free to choose whatever project interests him. Thus, inculcating the skills of focus and concentration from an early age. This system also lays great importance on hands-on, individualized learning, collaborative play, and celebration of achievements.
Benefits of Montessori Learning
Unlike a normal preschool or kindergarten where there is a strict syllabus and method of teaching, Montessori is very fluid. In this kind of setup, the child is introduced to age-appropriate playing tools and activities to learn from as per his own pace and interest. Compared to the traditional mode of learning where every child is taught the same twenty-six letters and a hundred numbers in the same way.
- Value-Based Learning
The Montessori model has a system of value-based learning. Essentially, it focuses on the quality of lessons learnt rather than the quantity. Hence, ensuring that children have learnt the right concepts in the right manner. In a way that will stay with them lifelong. Another reason why Montessori systems can offer value-based learning is due to their system of ‘Concrete Education’. In concrete education, students use their minds as well as bodies to learn. This is done with the help of specially designed toys which are used by children to ‘play’. These toys are made to teach students a specific concept, the practical usage of which is solidified in the mind of the child due to the involvement of muscle memory.
- Learning is Fun based with a High Level of Engagement
The Montessori system focuses on key milestones of children. Hence, at different age levels, the children are engaged in different activities. Three-year-old children are given large toys to play with to polish their muscle and language skills whereas four to five-year-old children are introduced with activities like cooking and gardening to sharpen their motor and collaborative skills.
With zero reliance on books and syllabus, this makes learning fun and engaging. Children end up talking to each other through collaborative project work thus helping them become more socially malleable and adaptive.
- Helps in Holistic Learning & Confidence Building
The concept of learning is much wider in a Montessori system of schooling than it is in a traditional system. Here education is not limited to phonetics and alphabets. A Montessori school’s major focus is developing social and soft skills in a child. Hence, through their unique curriculum, they introduce the child to activities that indulge their speech, motor, and collaborative skills. Through this, children learn to speak and cooperate at an early age thus helping them build a solid foundation of self-confidence and social etiquette.
Makes Children in Charge of Their Learning
Though teachers in a Montessori system play a very significant role, it is relatively small in the larger scheme of things. Since this model of learning has a relatively low level of formal training and instruction delivery to students, the child is put in control of his education. Ideally in this system, the teacher introduces a puzzle or activity to the student and the student engages with it in his way without any express directions. This helps children develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills from an early age.
- Customized Learning
Education in this system is highly individualized and customized. The common perception of ‘one size fits all’ is absolutely not encouraged in this model. As mentioned above, children are free to choose whatever activities they want to engage at their own individual pace thus helping them develop as per their capabilities and aptitudes.
- Children Develop Self-Discipline
Maria Montessori, while formulating the Montessori system of learning spoke about the three stages of self- discipline. She applied this research in designing a curriculum for her students to instil self-discipline in them. In a Montessori school, children are not told to do something or refrain from doing it, instead they are kept in a surrounding as per their development needs. Thus, they naturally learn the art of self-discipline by assimilating themselves into the environment around them. Studies have further proven that children who are taught self-discipline at an early age grow up to be more academically sound and addiction-free as adults.
- Encourages Emotional Development
Children are born with a system that gives rise to a zillion different emotions. Some of them may understand and most of which are beyond their control. Teachers that play the role of a guide or facilitator in this schooling system speak to children about their emotions and help them understand it. This helps children develop emotional intelligence and be more level-headed in future courses of their life.
- Children Learn Independence
When children are put in control of their learning and given the freedom to choose their choice of activity. They learn to be independent and self-regulating. Without any external support, they learn what is right and wrong for them through a first-hand experience and learn the art of decision making. It is these experiences which stay with them life long as they have got a front-row seat to them rather than somebody instructing them to do something or avoid it.
- Motor, Language and Cognitive Skills
Hands-on experience with age-appropriate equipment, field trips, multi-age group classes, and group activities help develop important motor, language, communication, speech, and cognitive skills in a child. These are some skills that, in a traditional mode of learning, come into play much later. This helps in building integral life skills in a child in a completely natural and informal way as part of his everyday growing process.
- Helps in Better Child Development for Future Schooling
Lastly, what do the likes of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Will Wright and Larry Page have in common? They were all Montessori educated who went on to create remarkable products in their niches. These are just a few of the many examples that prove that Montessori educated students develop skills at an early age as a part of their normal development pattern. Skills developed in a Montessori system, though not involving a lot of reading and writing, are essential to survive in the real world. Thus, making the learning model more practically viable.
Though all children are different and grow as per their own aptitude, a Montessori educated toddler has often been seen to show better adaptability and proactivity towards his environment than a non-Montessori child. Hence, proving the effectiveness of the model.