What is your preferred curriculum and why? What does it take from Western and Chinese methods?

Well, as there are a lot of different teaching approaches and curriculums available these days, it is hard to choose one that I really like. Piaget, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Bank Street, MI and Montessori are all potential choices. Each of them has their efficacy and flaws as they were developed in different era, environment, culture and target. Having said that, all of the above mentioned shared some similarities. They were developed to be child-centered, play based, age appropriate and to harness children’s creativity. However, as an educator, I really admire the work of Maria Montessori which is the reason why I have chosen to work in this environment.

We believe that in this safe and empowering environment, students find joy in learning. The design and flow of the Montessori classroom creates a learning environment that accommodates choice. There are spaces suited to group activities and areas where a student can settle down alone. You won’t find the customary rows of school desks; children work at tables or on the floor, rolling out mats on which to work and define their work space. There are well-defined spaces for each part of the curriculum, such as Language Arts,

Math, and Culture. Each of these areas features shelves or display tables with a variety of inviting materials from which students can choose. Many classrooms have an area devoted to peace and reflection: a quiet corner or table with well-chosen items — a vase of flowers; a fish tank — to lead a child to meditative thought. There are places to curl up with books, where a student can read or be read to.

A hallmark of Montessori education is its individualism and hands-on approach to learning. Students work with specially designed apparatus, manipulating and investigating until they master the lesson inside.

Montessori’s distinctive learning materials are displayed on open, easily accessible shelves. They are arranged (left to right, as we read in Western languages) in order of their sequence in the curriculum, from the simplest to the most complex. Each material teaches a single skill or concept at a time — for example, the various “dressing frames” help toddlers learn to button, zip, and tie; 3-dimensional grammar symbols help elementary students analyze sentence structure and style.

Built into many of the materials is a mechanism (“control of error”) for providing the student with some way of assessing her progress and correcting her mistakes, independent of the teacher. The concrete materials provide passages to abstraction, and introduce concepts that become increasingly complex. Maria Montessori believed every child has their own sensitive period where the set up and teachers were organised to stimulate the children’s intelligence, at the most appropriate time

How does the culture take into account children of different nationalities?

We are very well prepared to deal with different cultures and nationalities. We find that this environment provides a wonderful learning experience within the classroom. We celebrate United Nations Day and we also spend a great deal of time learning about the different countries that make up our world. We also encourage students to share as much about their country as they are comfortable in doing and we often invite the parents into our classroom to talk about where they are from, show us some pictures, explain some of their traditions and holidays and they can even prepare a snack that is from their country to share with everyone. All of these provide wonderful learning experiences for the students and teachers alike. The children had picked up a lot from each other, relevant to where East really meets West and shared a lot of good values together

At what age can children start an after school program? How can you ensure that they don’t find this too tiring during the week and they will still be physically rested and healthy?

If you are considering an after school program (ASP) for your child, they should be three years of age or older. You should also take into consideration that it really depends upon the child and as a parent you will know if they are ready to do after school classes or if it will be too tiring. If you are not sure, you can always talk to your child’s teacher and then make a decision based on their suggestions. On top of that, the ASP should be fun and promote children’s creativity, involving a lot of experiments, trial and error and such, so children’s intelligence can be fostered and encouraged.

What are the special points to the set up and organization of your campus?

Our school is one of the oldest Montessori Kindergarten’s in Shanghai. It started from 2005. We have a mature curriculum that has developed over the years with dedicated teachers, that are still with us since the opening. Hence, we are unique and special in the way that we offer both Chinese and English lead classrooms. We do not take on the bilingual approach; our classrooms are either wholly English or Chinese taught. This is an advantage for parents who want their child to become more fluent in either language. We have extracurricular activities for children in the afternoon. Starting next month we will open up our after school programs. We have also just finished building a beautiful cooking room and art studio and our wonderful art teacher creates some really amazing art programs for the children, to indulge in the world of imagination and artistry. Our campus also boasts two large open spaces for the children to play both indoors and outdoors.

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