Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Chinese Parent's Perspective on Montessori.

Today I met up with a parent, HP, from my previous work place. After dropping her son in school, she came to pick me up for coffee at Roselands Shopping Mall.

I knew she would be asking me lots of stuff about school as well, so I was mentally prepared for that.

Apparently HP is sending her son to a Montessori elementary school nearby in Hurstville as well. The elementary school fees start from 8,000AUD a year, which she deemed fairly affordable and within travel distance.

It would seem that she was quite impressed with the Montessori curriculum after having observed how her son behaved at home, and cleaning up after himself. The significance was more after her in-laws expressed how impressed they were at how he carried himself when she had brought her son to visit the family in China.

I did have to give an explanation on the Montessori curriculum, and how in the normal australian preschool, the curriculum and teaching materials were worlds apart, where at normal preschools, it was not necessarily stressed for children to pack away materials after working with it.

Instead, staff in a normal preschool had to do most of the packing away than the children did. Which basically relegates staff to the position of an overpaid domestic housekeeper.

Being Chinese (from China), she did stressed a lot on academics for her child. Being Chinese (from Malaysia), I understood where she was coming from. Academics is an area where all Chinese, and asians stress a lot on if they are born and brought up in any Asian country. I am not generalizing on this.

She did ask whether there was a reading program, as her son seemed able to read quite a lot of words.

I explained that it was not really a formal 'reading program' (which I think is what she meant), but the Montessori teaching materials did offer that outcome in learning to read and recognize numbers and letters, which may not be as comprehensive in a normal australian preschool.

The school does have an afternoon school readiness, but I think that is just bringing together and reviewing what the children have learnt in the morning; as the morning session is when the classroom teacher over a period of time, gives individual presentations to children on how to form their alphabet and put words together.

Finally, she expressed her views on my and a colleague's departure which I shall share in a different post. (will add link later. Pls remind me).

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