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Mrs. Alamelu Badri, from CMTC speaks on "Montessori: Unlocking the Child's Potential"

posted 23 Jun 2012, 20:28 by Webmaster Alqamar   [ updated 23 Jun 2012, 22:19 ]
Mrs. Alamelu Badri of CMTC, Chennai spoke on "Montessori: Unlocking the Child's potential" as a part of the 1st Montessori Mother's Meeting on Saturday 23rd June.  Mrs. Badri first asked everyone what they knew or liked about Montessori. Some said they liked the no pressure activity based way of learning, others said they like how it makes children love learning, while others said they didn't know much. One mom said the fact that Montessori children are early readers attracted her. Another asked if Montessori was for all children or only special children. 
Mrs. Badri first provided a detailed background of Maria Montessori - how she was the first Italian woman doctor, how she studied anthropology, and how she first started working with special children who showed so much progress that Dr. Montessori then thought to try the ideas on other children. The first Montessori House of Children, Casa dei Bambini,  was started on January 6th 1907 in San Lorenzo in Rome for children of a slum settlement.  All the activities in a Montessori environment were developed after Dr. Montessori made detailed observations of the children, as she was to always say later "the children showed the way."  The Casa was such a success, and the system spread rapidly across the world. Today, Montessori schools flourish is all sorts of environments.
To unlock a child's potential means that we must provide the best opportunity to develop what is already within the child.  Mrs. Badri explained that there are four different planes of development which a child undergoes in his journey to adulthood. The first plane of development extends from birth to around 6 years and is focussed on the child gaining self independence and psychological self construction.  The activities in the pre-primary Montessori environment are geared to help the child in this quest.  Mrs. Badri emphasized that learning should not be mistaken for only "reading, writing & 'rithmatic, but spans an entire set of life-skills."
Mrs. Badri explained how each of the myriad actitivities offered to a child contributes to his development superficially and at a deeper level. She demonstrated with the Cyclinder Blocks - how at one level a child understands how different sized cyclinders only fit into their container. But the very act of picking a cyclinder and inserting it into the container as silently as possible develops the pincer grip which is later used in writing.  Similarly, the very act of choosing an activity and bringing a chowki to start work, develops the sense of responsibility, committment, focus and attention in a child. It also develops the arm muscles. The simple act of rolling a mat helps develop the finger muscles and concentration.  She mentioned children she knew who roll up their grandmothers' saris perfectly with full attention to detail.
Mrs. Badri talked about how in Montessori the child is always allowed to choose his work. S/he is never forced to do a certain activity. Thus a child learns at his pace which is not compared to how another child is learning. This is in contrast to traditional schools where children have to sit and do one activity, say alphabets, all together at one time, irrespective of whether they want to or not. She advised the mothers to never ask the child "What did you learn in school today?" but instead let the child come out and share his experiences if he wishes to. In a Montessori school, children are always trusted to be responsible for their learning. "You have sent her to school, haven't you? Then trust her to do what is right there" she said.  She also said "Television is poison, and a complete waste of time. Please keep children away from it." Similarly, electronic games - PSP, I-Pad, online games are a big no-no!
In the end, Mrs. Badri was bombarded with questions about child rearing, schooling problems, temper tantrums, et al. The constant answer "Trust the child, follow the child!!"
Thank you Mrs. Badri for an amazing session. Your wealth of experience, and love for the children benefitted us all immensely!