Be part of the Kiddie Toes Montessori School Family!

Our elementary level follows the Progressive Education Method. We also use the Singapore Math Curriculum.

The Progressive Education’s main objective is to educate the "whole child" (physical, emotional and intellectual)

• Emphasis on learning by doing (experiential learning)
• Integrated curriculum focused on thematic units
• Strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking
• Group work and development of social skills
• Collaborative and cooperative learning projects
• Education for social responsibility and democracy
• Integration of community service and service learning projects into the daily curriculum
• Selection of subject content by looking forward to ask what skills will be needed in future society
• De-emphasis on textbooks in favor of varied learning resources
• Emphasis on life-long learning and social skills

School facilities

- Airconditioned classrooms
- Highly qualified Teachers
- Imported learning materials
- English as the medium of instruction
- Spacious play area
- Ideally located in the center of the city
- Comfortable waiting area

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why Montessori

As a follow-up to our October blog entry, we are posting a youtube video about our society's known innovators. And all of them are Montessorians. Here in the Philippines, we have no other than the award-winning singer and theater actress, Ms Lea Salonga.

Click on this link:
Why Montessori

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why are Parents Asking for More Homework?


Recently, I asked a friend why he was transferring his daughter back to a traditional school even if his daughter is clearly having a great time in a progressive school. His answer floored me, “I want her to have more HOMEWORK.”



You would transfer your child to a system that clearly is not a good fit for her because you want her to have more homework. Of course, I bit my tongue and decided to write about it instead.

First let’s list down what parents THINK homework is:

It is an activity at home that will improve their child’s self-discipline and study habits.
It will lengthen a their child’s focus and attention span.
It will increase their child’s academic standing or grade.
But what if all these are not true? Or at least not based on any significant data or study? Just a practice passed down from generations of teachers and students to the point that it became a permanent structure in itself?

On a progressive standpoint, homework or assignments are part of the curriculum ONLY if it will benefit the learning process started in the classroom. It is not mandatory that teachers give it. Progressive teachers would rather have the child spend his time at home interacting with family members and spending time with an activity they are passionate about like a hobby or reading.

Doesn’t this make sense?

In my experience as a teacher, I have come across a number of homework mediocrity and family discussion. There are parents who do their child’s writing homework (c’mon, fess up parents, they don’t just magically change the way they write paragraphs), projects, etc.

Most of the time, homework becomes a source of stress between the parent and child. Child wants to play, parent automatically says, do your homework first. This is fine as long as the homework is an integral learning experience for the child. Worse is when the parent attempts to tutor their child and end up fighting with them. Is this a significant interaction with your child?

Speaking of significant interaction, I had one year of giving out homework wherein the child asks the parents certain questions. For example, when the children were learning about Philippine Games, I asked them to interview their parents what games they used to play as children. The goal was (1) to research about Philippine games by interviewing their parents (2) to appreciate the games because what better inspiration is there than having your parents talk about them and (3) to be able to write the instructions and relay it to the class the following day.

Great homework I must say. Not according to one parent who wanted me to revise the homework and have her child Google it instead. Great..

So what do we make of the Homework Dilemma?

The ideal situation is that the child in class is so interested in the lesson that he would want to learn more about the the topic when he reaches home. I remember one student who was so fascinated with our Volcanoes lesson, that he gave me a printed copy of all the volcanoes, dormant and active, in the Philippines. I didn’t assign this. He did it all by himself.

Another ideal situation is that the class is so interested in the lesson that an hour in class isn’t enough and the teacher gives them relevant questions to think about at home.

Alfie Kohn’s book, The Homework Myth, suggests the following to make a change in the homework dilemma:

Design what you assign. Teachers should make the homework that they assign rather than relying heavily on textbooks. This makes sure that the homework is indeed relevant to the curriculum.
One size doesn’t fit all. Truthfully, a class of 20-40 students do not have the same skill level.
Bring in the parents. The purpose of homework should be clearly defined to parents. In our school orientation, we always explain that homework is not mandatory and should be linked to the lesson but we still get requests for more homework.. I still can’t explain that phenomenon.
Stop grading. I see parents and teachers fainting so this deserves a separate post all together..
Address Inequities. Kohn suggests that students be allowed to stay longer in school or the library so they have access to teachers and other resources to complete their homework.
For parents, here are my suggestions.

1. Chill. Really, chill out and spend time with your child. Enjoy their presence.

2. Tons of homework does not mean great curriculum or lesson. It may really just be tons of homework.

3. Ask your child’s school about their Homework Philosophy. Hopefully, they have one.

For my friend who’s transferring his daughter to a school with more homework, no amount of homework can replace a child’s happiness while learning in place where she thrives. If you still, don’t get it, read this post over and over again… as your homework.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Famous People Educated at Montessori Schools


Famous people Educated at Montessori schools:

Larry Page and Sergey Brin - founders of Google

Jeff Bezos - founder of

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis - former first lady (John F. Kennedy)

Sean ‘P.Diddy’ Combs - singer

Prince William and Prince Harry
T. Berry Brazelton - pediatrician and author

Julia Child - author, chef, TV cooking shows

Elizabeth Berridge - actress

Kami Cotler - actress

Melissa and Sarah Gilbert - actors

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Nobel Prize winner for Literature

Katherine Graham - ex-owner of the Washington Post

Anne Frank - author, diarist from World War II

Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) is talking education, mentioning that Montessori schools are doing a better job than most in teaching independent thinking - watch from 10:30 - 14:00, or the whole interview - it's worth it!

Sergey Brin and Larry Page (founders of Google) both attended Montessori preschool and both highlight that it was Montessori education that contributed to their independent thinking and success.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another Trick for Getting Kids to Eat Their Veggies: Serve Them Less

Another Trick for Getting Kids to Eat Their Veggies: Serve Them Less
By Beth Fontenot

Kids are not likely to make balanced choices on their own, so giving them too much of a favorite entree will keep them from trying other things.

If you want your preschooler to eat more fruits and vegetables, give them smaller portions -- of the main dish, that is.

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park found that giving preschool children smaller portions of the entrée at the lunch meal resulted in greater consumption of fruit and vegetables and a smaller intake of calories.

Seventeen kids in a Pennsylvania preschool were served six different variations of the same meal one day a week for lunch. The main dish was macaroni and cheese, and the amount served varied from less than half a cup to more than a cup and a half. The lunch menu also included green beans, unsweetened applesauce, a whole grain roll, and milk.

When the children ate all of the smallest portion of macaroni and cheese, they ate nearly half of the other foods served, including fruits and vegetables. However, when the kids were served the largest portion of mac and cheese, they only ate about a fourth of the side dishes.

The number of calories the kids consumed for lunch varied with the size of the main dish as well. When served the largest portion of the entrée, they ate an average of 506 calories. With the smallest portion, they consumed 315 calories.

As with adults, children fall short in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and these findings may provide parents with another tool to encourage their kids to eat more produce. When children fill up on mac and cheese or chicken strips or spaghetti, their intake of fruits and vegetables will surely suffer.

Parents need to be certain they are serving their children age-appropriate portions of food. Appropriate servings of food per day for young children by food group are: Grains, 3-4 ounces; vegetables, 1 1/2 cups; fruit, 1 1/2 cups; milk, two cups; meats, 2-3 ounces.

In general, the range of calories recommended for children two to five years old is 1,000 to 1,600, and servings sizes are about half of the suggested portion sizes for adults. One way a parent can decide if they are serving appropriate amounts of food is to check their child's lunch box, see what wasn't eaten, and talk to their child about it. Observing what they leave on their plates at home will accomplish the same thing.

Young children are not likely to make balanced food choices on their own when presented with large portions of a main dish that they like, so parents need to guide them by presenting with them age-appropriate servings. In addition, children tend to follow the example of parents and older siblings so when they see those they look up to eating fruits and vegetables as snacks and filling up on those side dishes at meals, they are likely to follow suit.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Image: Gyorgy Barna/Shutterstock.

This article originally appeared on, an Atlantic partner site.

This article available online at:

Copyright © 2012 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Global Speak

Kiddie Toes Montessori School (KTMS) holds true to its promise of providing its learners an avenue to grow -- not only locally, but globally. With today's fast-paced and ever changing way of life because of globalization, we all need to keep up.

The child today is the child of a global village. In a world where children are dressed in clothes made in China, bathed in soap made in Germany, fed with chocolates made in Switzerland, are made to watch tv shows produced in the US, and talk to a relative at the other side of the world through the internet... it is definitely undeniable how globalization has changed the way we live.

Although we at KTMS still believe that the best products (may it be food, entertainment, clothing or educational materials) are still from the local sources, we have to teach our learners how to cope in this ever changing, highly technical world.

We have started and included in our school curriculum a program called "Global Speak". In this program, the learners are taught not only phrases and words in different languages (English, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Thai, Japanese, Italian, Bahasa, etc), but they are also taught about each county's culture and tradition.

More importantly, they are taught about the current events and recent developments about each country -- from the typhoons in Asia, to the drought in Africa... from the elections in Burma, to the King's health situation in Thailand.

KTMS belives that at the core of holistic and global education, the learners have to be aware about what is happening around them, and made to participate in shaping a better common future for the world. We teach them how the human society is interdependent, and must therefore be united. We will teach them about peace and how to make their future sustainable and liveable. Lastly, we believe that this program will inculcate positive values and will enable the learners to thoughtfully evaluate their actions as global citizens.

For more inquiries about the program, and the KTMS holistic education, please email us at

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Promise

A Promise
Opening Remarks
5th Moving Up Day
Kiddie Toes Montessori School
23 March, 2012

Divine May Flor Mercado- David
School Directress

“I am a promise… “

This year’s Moving Up song starts with this line. And this completely encapsulates what Kiddie Toes Montessori School thinks of its learners. Each and every child of KTMS is a promise… a promise waiting to unfold. That is why we continuously strive to provide elevated and holistic learning to each child, such that every little promise can become a reality.

“I am a possibility…”

From our inception, we have always believed that children have choices. Their lives make up of numerous and endless possibilities waiting to be explored. And we have strongly believed that these possibilities can be tapped when children are given the independence to make choices, to commit mistakes, to grow.

“I’m a great big bundle of potentiality…”

We at KTMS treat each child as a package and bundle of potentials waiting to come out. That is why we provide each and every learner with opportunities for elevated education and holistic learning. We have organized and integrated a lot of new and innovative activities to our curriculum to ensure that their potentials will be realized.

And so we are here again at this time of the year. A time when we celebrate the full year of exciting, dynamic and truly great experience of learning. Welcome to our 5th moving up day.

We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome you to our new home… our new campus. Our new home is a realization of a promise we made to you, dear learners, parents, guardians and friends, that we will only give our learners the best. But like all other homes, ours won’t feel like a true home if it is empty. We hope that you will share our home with us.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for being with us, and keeping together amidst challenges. We are truly grateful. Salamat ng marami!

Lastly dear parents and guardians, let me just reiterate… this is our promise to you… we will ensure that each song we sing, each book we read, each plant we take care of, each step we take… will be for these children, for our learners, for these promises.

And for you dear learners… I hope you always keep in mind and at heart, all the things that we have taught you. And just to remind you, I am summarizing all these wonderful things we have taught you in five years… into 5 simple lessons:

Lesson 1: Use soft voices.
As long as you use soft voices and maintain respect for one another, the world will be a better and a more peaceful place to live in.

Lesson 2: Say thank you, please, and I’m sorry… and mean it.
Don’t forget these magic words. And when you say it, make sure that you say it with all your heart.

Lesson 3: Try again, but wait for your turn.
You may not succeed the first time. But you should try and try again. But always remember to patiently wait for your turn. And let others have their time and shine, too.

Lesson 4: Do your best, but have fun.
We want you to excel and to shine and to be the best of everything. But don’t forget that life is supposed to be fun! Smile and enjoy all the things that you do.

Lesson 5: Love your family, the community and the environment.
Learners, always remember that being successful, and being rich, and being popular and beautiful are useless without your family and your friends. Always remember to love not only your friends and family, but also the country and our environment.

So learners, parents, guardians and friends… our KTMS family… this is our promise to you… as long as you remember and keep to heart the things that you have learned from KTMS, all your dreams and aspirations will become realities.

Remember that we are all promises. Let us strive to be the best promise we can give to our family, to our society and to the world.

Again, welcome to this celebration. Let’s all have fun!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Edible Garden

Kiddie Toes Montessori School (KTMS) envisions to provide its learners a natural playground that would them about the connections between food, health and the environment. Aside from our efforts in making the school “green” and environment-friendly, we also hope that children will learn about healthful and natural food, and how important it is for the body. Thus, we have developed and incorporated the “Edible Garden” into the project approach of our Lower Elementary curriculum.

With the Edible Garden project, the learners were involved in the daily process of soil enrichment, growing and harvesting herbs and vegetables, as well as taking care of the plants. In these photos, the Fourth Grade Learners took charge of planting Pechay (Bok Choy). They were deeply involved in watering their crops and taking care of the same. They were also made to experience harvesting their plants.

After harvesting, the Pechay were cooked and sauteed (Ginisang Pechay or Sauteed Bok Choy). The learners were then made to taste and sample their produce.

This activity does not only promote love for vegetable, and taking care of one’s health. It also promotes responsibility and accountability in terms of taking care and maintaining plants and crops.

There will be more exciting and innovative activities related to the Edible Garden in the future.

For more photos, please check the KTMS Facebook Account.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

25 Ways to Just Be with your children

It’s not easy being a parent. No matter if you work outside the home, inside the home. No matter if you have one, two, three or fifteen children. No matter if you have a small house in a big city or a big house in a small city. No matter if you have money or very little money.

Raising children is hard work — at least it is if you are doing it right.

It’s really no wonder parents are spending more time than ever checking in on Facebook, smart phones, or doing project after project after project. It helps to have something to do rather than sit around and dwell on all the stuff we want to be able to do or used to be able to do but no longer can. This self-medicating with social media is harmful — as Rachel at Hands Free Mama has said so eloquently this week on her blog.

And yet our children don’t care how fancy we are as parents, or how many messages we get in an hour about our blog. The smaller they are the more they need us. The bigger they are, the more they need us. Sometimes, the more they need us, the more we want to slink away and find some blanket to crawl under. But it doesn’t have to feel that way.

Breaks for parents are absolutely essential. Absolutely.

There is a time and place for media and screens and technology. And there is a time and place for NO media and NO screens. It’s about being conscious, as a parent and a human being, about when and how we are turning to the computer or TV for simply boredom or laziness or seriously trying to avoid our lives.

To truly be awake to this life — these fleeting 18 years — we have but one choice to make each day: embrace our blessings and honor those around us. Practicing mindful choices each day is something that we have to model for our children or else they, too, will end up staring at screens all too much in their own life (like that picture above!).

There are many ways that you can just be with your children that are not hard work, that are not challenging or tiresome. By just being there, you may discover that your child will reach out to you simply because you are suddenly available. The magic in this list is that it’s just simply being together for a solid half hour or so but it offers up the most beneficial memories we can offer to children.

Here are some of our family’s favorites:

- Turn off the TV/computer/phones for one hour. (In our house, we limit daily screen time to a total of one hour except on movie nights).

- Have a work hour — they do homework and you work on a hobby like art or reading while sitting at the same table.

- Just listen to music. At our house, we call this a dance party.

- Light a candle for your children — one each.

- Surprise them with a celebration for trying hard on a test or homework and eat store bought cookies and milk.

- Sit on the couch while they play and read magazines. They will sit next to you eventually and ask, ”Whatcha reading?”

- Grab two balls and challenge everyone to find something fun to do with them outside.

- Snuggle under a blanket or put a puzzle together.

- Whip up a nice bowl of ice cream and laugh while you eat it.

- Watch TV with them if they insist on watching.

- Ask them open-ended questions about their day.

- Tell them something surprising about your day.

- Draw together, taking turns adding new lines on the same paper.

- Take a drive, taking turns picking the direction and sitting in silence as the unfamiliar landscape passes you by.

- Look at their baby photos.

- Tell them a funny story from their younger days.

- Tell them a funny story from your own childhood.

- In fact, tell them any story you can think of telling.

- Ask them to teach you how to do something. This is big. Very big.

- Ask them questions about their favorite things.

- Help them clean their room or the basement or the garage. Whatever. Lend a hand.

- Ask them for help with a problem.

- Hold a family meeting to just catch up.

- Announce that there will be no cleaning for just one day.

- Give them a coupon for a hug to use anytime they need it.

What kinds of things do you like to do with our family to just relax and be together with little expectations?


Monday, February 6, 2012

New Scientific Study Supports the Montessori Method

Thursday, 05 October 2006 09:27
Written by Administrator
Family Center

"new study in science magazine shows that montessori education leads to better outcomes than traditional methods"

Dr. Angeline Stoll Lillard has clearly summarized the research that explains why, after 100 years, the Montessori approach to education continues to be a phenomenal worldwide success.

Tim Seldin
President, The Montessori Foundation
Chair, The International Montessori Council

A study comparing outcomes of children at a public inner-city Montessori school with children who attended traditional schools indicates that Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic skills.

The study appears in the Sept. 29, 2006 issue of the journal Science. You can read more in a specical article and interview with Dr. Lillard that was published in the Fall 2006 issue of Tomorrow's Child magazine. Click here to download the PDF of tat article.

Montessori education is characterized by multi-age classrooms, a special set of educational materials, student-chosen work in long time blocks, a collaborative environment with student mentors, absence of grades and tests, and individual and small group instruction in academic and social skills. More than 5,000 schools in the United States, including 300 public schools, use the Montessori method.

The Montessori school studied is located in Milwaukee and serves urban minority children. Students at the school were selected for enrollment through a random lottery process. Those students who "won" the lottery and enrolled at the Montessori school made up the study group. A control group was made up of children who had "lost" the lottery and were therefore enrolled in other schools using traditional methods. In both cases the parents had entered their children in the school lottery with the hope of gaining enrollment in the Montessori school.

"This strategy addressed the concern that parents who seek to enroll their children in a Montessori school are different from parents who do not," wrote study authors Angeline Lillard, a University of Virginia professor of psychology, and Nicole Else-Quest, a former graduate student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin. This was an important factor because parents generally are the dominant influence on child outcomes.

Children were evaluated at the end of the two most widely implemented levels of Montessori education: primary (3- to 6-year-olds) and elementary (6- to 12-year-olds). They came from families of very similar income levels (averaging from $20,000 to $50,000 per year for both groups).

The children who attended the Montessori school, and the children who did not, were tested for their cognitive and academic skills, and for their social and behavioral skills.

"We found significant advantages for the Montessori students in these tests for both age groups," Lillard said. "Particularly remarkable are the positive social effects of Montessori education. Typically the home environment overwhelms all other influences in that area."

Among the 5-year-olds, Montessori students proved to be significantly better prepared for elementary school in reading and math skills than the non-Montessori children. They also tested better on "executive function," the ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems, an indicator of future school and life success.

Montessori children also displayed better abilities on the social and behavioral tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play.

Among the 12-year-olds from both groups, the Montessori children, in cognitive and academic measures, produced essays that were rated as "significantly more creative and as using significantly more sophisticated sentence structures." The Montessori and non-Montessori students scored similarly on spelling, punctuation and grammar, and there was not much difference in academic skills related to reading and math. This parity occurred despite the Montessori children not being regularly tested and graded.

In social and behavioral measures, 12-year-old Montessori students were more likely to choose "positive assertive responses" for dealing with unpleasant social situations, such as having someone cut into a line. They also indicated a "greater sense of community" at their school and felt that students there respected, helped and cared about each other.

The authors concluded that, "when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools."

Lillard plans to continue the research by tracking the students from both groups over a longer period of time to determine long-term effects of Montessori versus traditional education. She also would like to replicate the study at other Montessori and traditional schools using a prospective design, and to examine whether specific Montessori practices are linked to specific outcomes.

Lillard is the author of "Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius." More information is available at: For a copy of the study in the journal Science, call 1-202-326-6440, or email: .


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Overcoming Fear, Building a Future


from Natural Life Magazine, November/December 2010

Overcoming Fear, Building a Future
by Kelly Coyle DiNorcia

Choosing progressive educational opportunities for our children and our society

Wellspring Community School, our small independent school in New Jersey, has recently hosted a number of outreach events that have brought many new people into our midst – educators, grandparents, parents, children, and other members of our community. Parents, especially, frequently comment about how welcoming and appealing our space and people are, and often leave full of enthusiasm for our particular embodiment of the philosophy of holistic education. However, more often than not they ultimately select a more traditional educational setting for their children.

We often wonder why people are so full of interest after visiting us, only to later decide that our school is not a good choice for them. Parents who have a viscerally positive reaction while in our classroom go home and create a boatload of excuses as to why our school would not fulfill their children’s needs. Why is this? I ask myself how we can better reach potential families with our vision of filling the world with inspired children who are happy, creative, and active members of a local and global community.

This is a vital question for the future of progressive education, and I imagine it is one asked around the world by those of us seeking to grow a larger movement while sustaining our schools and life learning opportunities. I think the answer to this question lies in our willingness as a culture to abdicate responsibility for our lives and our children in a very fundamental way. (I would like to insert here a recognition of the fact that not all families are biological, and that families created by adoption or  other non-biological means often must jump through all manner of hoops in order to secure their rights as parents, whether they like it or not.) This begins before children are even born, when many parents choose a physician and follow her orders without questioning. Once a child is born, the pediatrician becomes the arbiter of good parenting in many ways. Many parents are beholden to their doctors’ advice when it comes time to choose which if any drugs they put into their children’s bodies, how to ensure that the young people in their care reach developmental milestones “on time,” even what detergent they use to wash an infant’s clothing.

For questions that arise between well-visits to the pediatrician, parents consult any of a burgeoning number of books that can be found at bookstores or libraries. These books are granted the status of user manuals (if not religious texts) as parents use the authors’ advice to guide them through the difficult, messy, and exhausting terrain of living with young children. If you want sleep, you’re told to leave your child to cry in his crib for this number of minutes before going in to comfort (but not hold) him, and then leave him for this number of minutes and so on until he is quiet. A fever of this particular degree warrants a call to the doctor, and this other temperature should send you straight to the emergency room. Even clothing for young children is labeled by age, so that my two-year-old who is still wearing eighteen month clothing is somehow not quite right, at least according to Carter’s or Gymboree or Gap Kids.

Soon it is time for the young child to begin school, and parents are faced with a decision that is often perceived to be the most momentous of all. Education is seen as preparation for adulthood and career (or at least work), so the start of a child’s school years is make it or break it time. Most parents, when faced with this milestone in a child’s life, send their children to public school or, if they can afford it, to a traditionally-structured private school.

A growing number of parents are beginning to have niggling doubts about what is going on in our schools. Large class sizes, high-stakes testing, curriculum developed by bureaucrats rather than educators, teachers hired by their position on the pay scale rather than their qualifications, even school lunches made from highly processed government-purchased surplus rather than fresh, healthy, local ingredients – these things make many parents uncomfortable. However, most parents set aside their discomfort and send their children off to the neighborhood kindergarten anyway. Some of them are not aware of the alternatives. Some are aware but simply cannot afford the expense of a private education or do not have the option of homeschooling due to employment or other concerns. Other parents are genuinely committed to the ideal of quality free education for all children and work to improve the system from within. Some of these parents are the ones who visit progressive schools like ours, are enchanted by what they see happening there, and still choose public or conservative private schools.

Why? The short answer, in my opinion, is fear. By abdicating responsibility, we also free ourselves from accountability. If we do what the doctor says and things don’t turn out well, it’s the doctor’s fault, or if not the doctor then it’s the medical system, or the pharmaceutical companies, or the malpractice insurance providers. In any case, the fault is definitely not ours. If we send our child to school and she doesn’t read “on time” or fails to achieve acceptable scores on standardized tests, then the school has failed her despite our best efforts. After all, we did what the experts told us to do. We did our part. Once we take on the responsibility of researching our options and making our own choices, we become responsible for the outcome as well. We have no one to blame but ourselves if things turn out to be less than perfect. That scares most parents.

When parents come to visit our school, they do not ask us if our students are content, or motivated, or curious. Naturally, visitors do not really have to ask because they can clearly see that our students are all these things. But the sad truth is that these are not the things parents are really concerned with anyway. They want to know when the children learn to read and write, and how they compare to their public school contemporaries in mathematical abilities. They want to know if their children, if educated in this way, will be able to compete with their traditionally-schooled peers when it comes time for high school or college or “life.” Even parents who realize that a child’s learning and potential cannot and should not be quantified still find some reassurance in assigning numbers as indicators of educational performance and possibility. They are comforted in the belief that test scores provide some useful information, as well as providing a clear, attainable goal. Eschewing statistics in favor of more esoteric things like portfolios and subjective observation takes a leap of faith. That scares parents, too.

As a parent, I can certainly relate to the fear. Of course, I worry that my children may not find success and happiness. I want them to be safe, healthy, and fulfilled. But in the words of Antoine De Saint-Exupery, “Those of us who understand life couldn’t care less about numbers!” As an educator I know that numbers are less a guarantee and more a security blanket. I know that doing things the way they have always been done is often a sign of stagnation rather than success. I know that children are better served in the long-term by learning about cooperation and community than conformity. Most importantly for me, as a product of the traditional school system who was considered a model student – a “gifted” student, even – I know that I have spent the entirety of my adult life trying to overcome the training I received there.

More and more parents are choosing progressive educational settings for their children, both in schools and at home. Instead of being motivated by fear of what they do not want for their children, these parents are courageously setting their sights on what they do want. It is encouraging to see the availability of educational alternatives growing, yet the original question still remains. How can we get more people to set aside the fear, step outside their comfort zone, and join us as we build a new system of education where children’s bodies, minds, and spirits are valued and nurtured?

In the end, when visitors to our school ask how our students compare to traditionally-schooled children, the true answer is that we really do not know. Insofar as we reject the quantification of children’s essential qualities, we may never be able to answer this question to anyone’s satisfaction, since the evidence we offer is anecdotal. Yet on the other hand, the very fact that the traditionally schooled individual is held up as the benchmark against whom alternatively schooled children are measured is based on a rather bold assumption that the predominant system for schooling children is effective. In our rapidly changing world, no one can say with any degree of certainty that any system of education will adequately prepare young people to be adult members of society in ten or twenty years. No one even knows what that means; much less does anyone know how to prepare children for it. We are all taking a huge leap of faith when it comes to raising and teaching our children, albeit some of us with a greater sense of security (false or otherwise) than others.

I wish that there were some easy answer whereby we could quickly grow a broad and strong progressive education movement based on respecting children and equipping them with self-confidence, curiosity, problem-solving skills, and a deeply-ingrained sense of community. I believe that such a system of education will benefit not only my own children but the entire Earth and all her inhabitants. I am grateful that our movement is gaining traction and momentum, even if this is happening at a slower pace than I would like.

We must continue to grow a movement for progressive educational alternatives by seeking out educational communities that speak to us as parents, educators, and individuals while recognizing that this means something different for each child and family. We must support all manner and type of alternatives, because freedom is only meaningful when options exist. We can spread the word within our circle of friends, family, and acquaintances about the choices we make and the reasons behind these choices. We should make use of the tools of social media to reach an even wider audience with our ideas. The people who share our vision will find us, and we will continue to grow as a grassroots movement of people seeking a stronger, more sustainable future for our children and our planet. As Krishnamurti says, true revolution “comes about through cultivating the integration and intelligence of human beings who, by their very life, will gradually create radical changes in society,” and we must continue to cultivate our young children to bring about change.

Kelly Coyle DiNorcia is a writer, educator, and mother of two children: a daughter who is a student at Wellspring Community School in Gladstone, New Jersey and a son who is two years old and still doing his learning at home. She earned her M.Ed. from Cambridge College through their partnership with the Institute for Humane Education. This article has also been published in Education Revolution Magazine.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Google thanks Montessori

Sergey Brin, one of the Google founders talks about how AUTHENTIC Montessori education made him who is he is now.


Click on this YouTube link:
Sergey Brin talks about his Montessori education

Photo source: internet

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What is a Progressive School

Progressive School: Fact or Fiction?

Posted on March 15, 2011 8

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard a professor from a prestigious university said that there is no such thing as a progressive school in the Philippines and if there is, then they’re just making things up. WOW! That blew my mind. I wanted to automatically face that professor and tell him a piece of my mind until I realized.. hey, we ARE making things up! We’re making up a curriculum from the interests of our students, we’re making up activities that are integrated through the subjects and we are making up projects that stem from the imagination of our students!

A lot of misconceptions are being bandied about our beloved progressive schools that I think it’s about time to clear some things up.

1. “Progressive schools encourage noisy, rowdy and disrespectful students. The students are so free that there isn’t any order anymore.”

FICTION. Progressive schools encourage children to be outspoken and allow their ideas to be heard. Someone who is used to the convent-like silence of traditional and montessori schools may read this to be misbehavior or rowdiness. But stop for a second and LISTEN to the noise. You’ll be surprised on what you can harvest from all that conversation. Ideally, the teachers are part of the “noise” too. Their role is to manage the ideas and words of their students and keep boundaries on how students should be speaking to one another and to other adults.

Freedom may sometimes be read as lack of order. There is order but not the order that we have been used to growing up in a traditional school. I know the term “organized chaos” has grossly been abused but that’s the best description of the feistyness that we see in students of progressive schools. They’re free to speak their minds however they are not free to be disrespectful in their words. They’re free to be angry at someone yet they’re not free to hit in anger.

2. Where are the worksheets and textbooks? Progressive Schools have no curriculum.

FICTION. There IS a curriculum. There IS a guide called a scope and sequence that teachers follow to check the skill level of each class. It’s the flexibility of implementing the curriculum that creates an illusion that it doesn’t exist. Why can the teacher change activities during class? Why are there no preschool textbooks? This is not a loss of structure. This is the adaptation of the structure to the ones who are in the center of it — the students.

Activities do not necessarily equate to a worksheet. As much as additional learning does not equate to homework. Nor does a textbook equate to the best source for a particular topic. Alfie Kohn, narrated it well in his article, Progressive Education: Why it’s hard to beat but also hard to find (2008)

And then (as my audiences invariably point out) there are parents who have never been invited to reconsider their assumptions about education. As a result, they may be impressed by the wrong things, reassured by signs of traditionalism — letter grades, spelling quizzes, heavy textbooks, a teacher in firm control of the classroom — and unnerved by their absence. Even if their children are obviously unhappy, parents may accept that as a fact of life. Instead of wanting the next generation to get better than we got, it’s as though their position was: “Listen, if it was bad enough for me, it’s bad enough for my kids.” Perhaps they subscribe to what might be called the Listerine theory of education, based on a famous ad campaign that sought to sell this particular brand of mouthwash on the theory that if it tasted vile, it obviously worked well. The converse proposition, of course, is that anything appealing is likely to be ineffective. If a child is lucky enough to be in a classroom featuring, say, student-designed project-based investigations, the parent may wonder, “But is she really learning anything? Where are the worksheets?” And so the teachers feel pressure to make the instruction worse.

I rest my case.

3. Progressive schools do not let students memorize facts. The students don’t learn anything.

FACT and FICTION. Why both? Well, progressive schools do not aim for students to recite facts from rote memorization. Progressive schools aim for students to understand the facts and therefore having them remember them longer.
Every time I asses a preschooler and I ask him to tell me the days of the week, almost always that child will sing them to me. This is because during Morning Message in circle time, their teacher sings the Days of the Week song, writes down the day whether it was Monday, Tuesday, etc and highlights each letter in the word. The child then remembers all the days with an idea on how to spell each of them. This activity is appropriate for young students because they’re fond of singing, they love circle time and they can relate with the letters on the board specially because their teacher points out “M is for Monday. Hey, it ‘s also the first letter of your name, Matthew!”
Now compare this to a child whose teacher just makes him memorize Monday to Sunday like a drill sergeant everyday. He may be able to remember this during a test but I’m sure he will completely forget this after. There is no connection to his real and everyday life.

4. The students are having too much fun. They’re just playing and not learning anything.

Who ever said that learning should not be fun? Or that there can never be anything learned by playing? I wonder how that person is as an adult… In the days of the dinosaurs (ok, I exaggerate..), children were pictured chained to their desks, seriously writing on a piece of paper when in school or when in the process of learning something. This image, in reality, hasn’t left the memory of today’s parents. There is a stigma when a child utters the sentence, “Oh, we just play in school.” It’s like laughter does not equate to active learning.

The Disney movie “Monster’s Inc.” depicted a monster world whose primary source of energy was children’s screams of fear. Their energy supply was so low because children were not easily scared anymore. They then realized that children’s laughter offered 10 times more energy after a child accidentally laughed in their power plant. I wonder when this accident can happen in our world?!

Fun is socially not equated with learning because the concept of school was not equated with a place to have fun. And we wonder why as adults we also view ourselves in the workplace with a ball and chain.

There are numerous other fictional or might I say, urban legends about progressive schools. But the number one enemy of the philosophy being implemented in them are traditional expectations. Even after numerous parent seminars or orientations about what a progressive school represents, it is still a struggle for progressive schools to break the barrier that our traditional upbringing has seared in our ideas about education. Sadly, some progressive schools have been swayed to just adapt to this traditional pressure rather than uphold the progressive philosophy.Let’s hope they also read this post.