Today we would like to introduce you to Pak Made, our Housekeeping Supervisor. Beyond the gleaming verandahs and spotless classrooms is a story of tireless commitment. Our housekeeping staff, led by Pak Made, ensure that our classrooms and offices are not only pristine but also welcoming and ready to receive students, families and teachers.
The hard work of our housekeeping team does not go unnoticed.
Q: Made, what is your title and how long have you been working in your role at our school?
A: My title is Housekeeping Supervisor. I started to work at Montessori School Bali in July 2005, so I am in my 18th year.
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day? What are your primary responsibilities?
A: My responsibility is to guide and direct the housekeeping team on how to work efficiently and effectively so that everything is very clean. But I also help them daily. I am responsible for monitoring incoming/outgoing housekeeping supplies, for example cleaners and other equipment for work. I also handle weekly shopping and shopping for any supplies for events.
Q: How do you coordinate with teachers, administrators, and other school staff to address specific cleaning needs or concerns?
A: Usually, in my experience, it goes well because the teachers and teacher assistants coordinate with me directly about problems or things they need. And also, if there are events at school, I first coordinate with the teacher and assistant about the room and also get instruction from Anom.
Q; In a Montessori school, children are expected to help clean and maintain the classrooms. How do you do your job so that the children still feel they are keeping their classrooms tidy and clean?
A: To keep the classroom neat and tidy, we make sure that the children have time in the work cycle to do their cleaning jobs. They have their own tools for this. And then our staff comes in after the school day to make sure everything is truly deep-cleaned and ready for the next day.
Q: What brings you satisfaction in your job at MSB? What is your favorite part of being on the housekeeping team?
A: The problem of satisfaction is a matter of the heart. What is clear is that from the past and until now I have worked at Montessori School Bali, I feel comfortable working in this place and my satisfaction at work is a feeling of belonging. If there is a sense of ownership in the company, there will automatically be a sense of responsibility at work. My favourite time as a member of the housekeeping team was getting to help with the “Ogoh-ogoh” parade, making kites on Peace Day, and helping to prepare for events like the PTA Twilight Market.
Children from 0-6 are in their sensitive period for language. This means that being in an environment full of conversation, discussion, vocabulary and experiences of the written word are all-important and crucial at this phase of their development.
Your children’s teachers speak in full sentences in the same way we would speak to each other. The curriculum intentionally includes the introduction of big, “juicy” vocabulary including terms like: hypotenuse, triangle-based pyramid, archipelago and Paleozoic Era. And, of course, we give characteristics and definitions to go along with these words, as well as a context so that the concepts can be fully understood.
We frequently read aloud to children, and provide lots of literature not just in the reading corner/classroom library, but on the shelves in different curricula areas as well. In Botany we have books about plants, and besides books, nomenclature cards full of interesting facts. The written word is everywhere.
At home, we encourage the same focus on printed material. Below you will find some ideas for books that you can read aloud to your children over the holiday break. These books are also well-aligned with Montessori as they teach real concepts (not fantasy), employ the use of robust vocabulary, have high quality art and visual appeal. Most also include real-life, every-day ideas which make them highly engaging for children.
Ages 0-1 TITLE: Visual Quiet Book Shapes and Color
Wonderful for babies; they can explore their senses: auditory, tactile, and vision… can be introduced between 0-3 months. Black and white is perfect or newborns!
TITLE: Black & White
Written and illustrated by Tana Hoban. contrasting images are perfect – also ideal to prop up during tummy time, which you’ll be doing a lot around 3-6 months.
TITLE: All About Me
Full of real-life photography of babies. Babies are naturally wired to look for faces, so this book is especially captivating. Introduce around 5-6 months of age. You can start using lots of language about body parts while making it interactive (“THIS is your nose!”). There are also flaps to lift, which is great since most babies love peek-a-boo.
TITLE: Charmer Play Kit Book Bundle
From Lovevery, includes two books – one wooden book w/animal images and a second board book with photography. Wooden books like these won’t warp or break down in baby’s mouth, these seriously capture baby’s attention!
These are all about routines, exploring and curiosity, and preparing for real-life situations: going to the doctor for the first time, can be scary for a child. Walking through that experience with a book can be a game-changing!
TITLE: Hands Can
The photography in Hands Can alongside the rhyming text makes this a toddler favourite. Explore all the things your hands can do!
TITLE: The Babies and Doggies Book
Babies and dogs do a lot of the same things – squirm, sniff, sit, splash, cuddle… explore these similarities. Great color photography of different dog breeds and a diverse cast of babies.
TITLE: Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book
Toddlers love working in the kitchen using their platform/kitchen helper. Follow simple recipes (cracking eggs, etc.)…allows your child to take part in daily tasks. The book has fun features like pull-tabs, wheels, and a punch-out piece so it’s interactive.
TITLE: The Pioneer Play Kit Book Bundle
Four books exploring concepts of opposites, big and little, few and many… very Montessori!
TITLE: Ready to Go Poop, Ready to Go Pee
Yep, exactly what you would think…for ages 1 and up, and there are pictures of poop, so be prepared!
TITLE: Montessori: Number Work/Letter Work/Shape Work
Your child will love these Montessori books with sandpaper tracing. This one is all about tracing numbers, but there are others as well; these are fantastic to help with prewriting practice!
TITLE: Going to the Dentist
Lots of parents and toddlers dread going to the dentist. Introduce the experience early with the help of this book, which includes real-life photography and walks a child through the entire process beforehand.
TITLE: May We Have Enough to Share
By Richard Van Camp, this book is all about nature and gratitude. A sweet message and the perfect way to start or end the day.
TITLE: Clean-Up Time
A child’s play or work space needs to be clean and functional. Too many toys and clutter can be overwhelming for kids and prevents optimal learning. Help your toddler learn to take part in clean-up time by reinforcing the concept during reading time.
TITLE: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Pattern books are excellent for predicting, and this one focuses on counting, name of foods, and of course, the the metamorphosis of the butterfly.
TITLE: Love You Forever
A beautiful expression of the love a parent has for their child, forever.
TITLE: Owl Babies
Three baby owls awake one night to find their mother gone, and they can’t help but wonder where she is A tender tale to remind the youngest of children that Mommy always comes back.
TITLE: The Giving Tree
Beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein, a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving.
TITLE: Blueberries for Sal
Beautifully illustrated, addictively written and tells the charming story of mother and son, and a bear and her cub, as they prepare for winter.
TITLE: When Sophie Gets Angry…Really Really Angry…
A Caldecott award winning book that validates children’s emotions.
Five Tips for Reading with your Children
There is nothing like the special time when a parent snuggles in with their child one on one with a good book. From just a few months old, children can already look at books, listen to your voice, and point to pictures as they associate the names of objects. Here are a variety of activities you can try with your children to build their love of reading:
Read aloud, every day. Try to read to your child once a day at a time you choose and be consistent. Bedtime is often popular as reading and listening can be soothing and calming before sleep. Your young child may want to hear the same stories read again and again. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a day or don’t always keep to your schedule. Just read to your child as often as you possibly can.
Repeat, repeat repeat. You may go through a period when your child prefers one book and wants it read night after night. It is not unusual for children to favour a particular story. Keep in mind that a favourite story may speak to your child’s interests or emotional needs. Be patient. Continue to expose your children to a wealth of books and eventually they will be ready for more stories.
Talk about the Stories you read. Sometimes it’s nice to discuss the story together, sometimes a good story stands on its own. If you don’t talk about a story right away, that’s ok. Your child may come up with questions at a later time. Either way, reading aloud to your child, and taking time to reflect on what you read are ways to build your child’s love and interest in books, and something you can share and discuss together. Try to use open-ended questions instead of yes or no questions such as “why do you think he did that?” or “what do you think she will do next?”.
Let Your Child Tell You the Story. A child may be taken aback when you ask them to tell you the story. Perhaps they have heard a book so many times it will feel easy and they will be very willing. Perhaps they will resist at first. Suggest that they look at the pictures and tell you a story, even if it’s the first time they have seen a book. This is a “pre-reading” activity often known as a “picture walk” and works very well for children who are 3-4 or 5 years of age who are not yet reading or just coming into reading. It can be very satisfying for a child who is not yet reading, to be able to “read” to you by using the pictures in a picture book as a map to the story, even if their version is nothing like the one in the book. It helps them orient to beginning, middle, end. If using a familiar book, use it as a way to help them recall the story from beginning to end, offering reminders if needed.
Plan Family Silent-Reading Time. As children become more comfortable with printed material, holding books, orienting to top-bottom/front-back of the book, turning pages independently, it can be fun to set a timer for 20-30 minutes and everyone cozy up with a favorite book. Lay on your belly on the floor next to your child with your book, and make sure they have some of their own. When children see their parents taking time to read, and doing it for enjoyment (not for work, on a computer), especially with a real book, not a tablet, this encourages children to find their own love for reading, and to make the time to read when the rest of the family is also enjoying books.
Maria Montessori lived and developed her theories in the time of the Cold War. Witnessing the violence and hatred existing in mankind as it unfolded on the world stage, while at the same time observing the natural tendencies of children toward kindness, understanding, compassion and love, Dr. Montessori sensed that the solution to saving humanity was innately evident in children. Embedded in the Montessori pedagogy is a peace curriculum and an appreciation of world cultures; two subtle and intentional ways of addressing character development that are unique to the philosophy.
One way that the Montessori curriculum fosters these concepts of peace and understanding is through the Grace and Courtesy lessons that begin in the 0-3 classroom. The children are taught to carefully pull out or push in a chair, almost without a sound, rather than carelessly dragging the furniture. They learn how to walk slowly and carefully, how to hold objects made of ceramic and glass, and how to offer a friend a piece of apple. These “ways of being” are unconsciously absorbed by watching the adults, through learning from older students, and from lessons that are given by the teachers and repeated and practiced again and again.
Another way the children learn respect for others and to honor diversity happens later, in the Lower Primary curriculum, through study of The Needs of People. Montessori noted that every human being, no matter where they live in the world, has the same basic human needs for food, clothing, transportation, shelter, and beauty (aesthetic). We meet these needs differently, depending on where we live. Based on available materials, a house in Africa may be crafted from earth and straw, while in the Arctic, from ice and snow, but still, we all have a need to be protected from the elements.
These similarities are what unite us. When students study various world cultures, by examining these categories, they learn to appreciate the clothing, the traditions, the religions and spirituality and beliefs, the modes of transportation and housing. And all through the lens of what unites us as people, and also what makes us special and unique.
Montessori also offers work on boundary setting and conflict resolution, We demonstrate for younger children how to find the language to assert clear boundaries. A 2.5-3-year-old may be taught how to say “No! Walk away. This is my work!” …in the kindest possible way, without anger or blame, but still to make a point and establish a limit for another child.
And when conflicts do arise, as they always do, we help children find the words to talk a situation through, as first, with an adult helping, but eventually independently. We employ techniques of active listening, “I” messages and non-judgment to soften the experience for the participants so that it becomes safe to express feelings, (“I didn’t like it when you stepped on my rug…”) children can feel seen and heard, and hopefully, desired outcomes that create a win-win can be achieved. Some Montessori classrooms use a peace rose, or a talking stick to encourage turn-taking when speaking, and to make sure one participant is acknowledged before the other has their turn.
Montessori educators also work to assist in the creation of a strong moral compass whereby we seek to instill an “internal locus of control” – helping the children learn to choose to make good choices. It’s the idea of choosing to do the right thing even when no one is looking.
Another way that we help to instill an appreciation of others and for diversity is in the way that Montessori teachers welcome every student “where they are”. It’s a classroom community of inclusion – at whatever age they fall into in the three-year cycle, at whatever math or reading ability, whatever ability as an English speaker, from whatever country, each student’s unique strengths and weaknesses as they come to the classroom, and then moving each one ahead as an individual. It’s the antithesis of being a “number” in a homogenous group… it’s a celebration of the unique expression of each child.
Every time I reflect on the work of Dr. Maria Montessori I am struck by the timelessness of an educational philosophy that speaks to the soul of humanity and I am reminded that the work we are immersed in as educators, and the work you are fully invested in as parents, is truly an investment in the betterment of our planet.
Here’s to making the world a better place in which to live. Cheers!
If there were a contest at Montessori School Bali to see who could name the most students in the school, this guy would undoubtedly win! Pak Reinal is also the smiling, friendly face who welcomes students and families to MSB every morning. Children, parents and care givers look forward to Reinal’s smiling face, his “high fives” and his friendly demeanor as each morning. We feel lucky to have him.
Pak Reinal joined the MSB team in May 2006 and we sat down recently with him to talk about his 17 years at Montessori School Bali.
Q: Pak Reinal, can you tell us about your background and experience in security? How did you become a school security guard?
A: “I was born and raised in Jakarta, and I moved to Bali seeking new opportunities for work. I was working in a security company when I received information that MSB needed a head of security to manage their security team.”
Q: What motivated you to work as a security guard in a school environment specifically?
A: “Since I worked at MSB, I realize that I like to meet people, especially children and to create a safe and secure environment for children, teachers, and staff, contributing to the overall well-being of the school community. That makes the job more rewarding and enjoyable.”
Q: Could you describe a typical day in your role as a school security guard? What are your primary responsibilities?
A: “Providing instructions, organizing a security team and providing good service. It’s important to provide a sense of security in MSB and its surroundings. I also ensure the MSB is maintained and well-supervised by the security team. Becoming the chief of security guard, I also ensure all operating procedures are being followed correctly and efficiently.”
Q: At MSB, the safety of children is of paramount importance. How do you balance the need for security with creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere where students feel safe, but not overly controlled?
A: “I always keep the rules and directions in mind, staying focused and alert but also trying to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.”
Q: What do you find satisfying in your work at Montessori School Bali?
A: “Meeting and greeting everyone, doing my job well, and completing work on time.”
In the enchanting world of music education, a dedicated mentor can make all the difference in a student’s journey. At Montessori School Bali, we are fortunate to have a true maestro guiding our young talents through the intricate and melodic path of violin mastery. With a passion for nurturing the next generation of musicians, our school’s violin teacher, Catherine, is more than an instructor; she is part of the MSB family and has been since 2003.
Check our interview with Catherine below to learn more about her and her passion.
Can you tell us about your journey as a violinist? How did you discover your passion for the violin?
I had a passion to learn the violin from a young age and asked for a violin on my 4th birthday! My Father was a violin teacher so I probably wanted to be like him. When I eventually got lessons at age 7, I immediately fell in love with playing. My Father was always complaining about his job, so I didn’t have any desire to become a violin teacher, until I stumbled across the Suzuki violin method. Suzuki believed that if children hear and learn to play fine music, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. And they get a beautiful heart. He believed, “The heart that feels music, will feel people.” He felt it is in our power to educate all the children of the world to become a little better as people, a little happier. I was and still am on a spiritual journey to find purpose and Suzuki violin method resonated perfectly with this.
How long have you taught at Montessori School Bali? What motivated you to become a violin teacher here, and what has kept you going for so long?
I’ve taught violin at Montessori School Bali for 20 years. I was invited to teach a small group of extended day preschoolers by one of the classroom teachers. I taught in their classroom and after observing the lessons for a year she felt it benefited the children and I was invited to teach the whole school. I love the joyful energy of young children and love keeping the joy of playing the violin alive. My daughter attended the school from age 5 up until age 15 so this was an added bonus and one reason, I have continued teaching at MSB.
Can you describe your teaching philosophy or approach to violin instruction and how do you see it connecting to the Montessori method?
I believe children learn best when they are having fun so I include a lot of games in my lessons. I have developed games for holding the bow, games for learning to read music and games for learning a new piece! My lessons involve a lot of movement, so body, mind and soul are stimulated. Learning to play the violin is difficult. It requires effort, self -discipline and concentration. These are qualities that a Montessori education also values. In today’s world, where children are bombarded with messages of instant gratification, it’s especially important for the children to see how putting in effort, pays off in the longer term. The children see firsthand how those who focus in the lessons and practice get better at playing the violin. Suzuki believed that with the right environment and circumstances anyone could learn to play the violin. The Montessori approach also focuses on providing the right environment for children to excel.
Montessori education focuses on taking your time and doing things carefully. To make a beautiful sound on the violin requires sensitivity and taking your time. It requires you to be in touch with your soul, being mindful and giving your full focus. My lessons are also social and I encourage the children to help each other and resolve conflicts as they arise. We also discuss how to avoid conflicts arising! When the children play together for school concerts this fosters a sense of community- another very important aspect of Montessori education.
How do you tailor your teaching methods to meet the MSB students’ individual needs and learning styles of your students? Do you have tips for students to stay motivated and engaged in their violin studies?
I teach in small groups so this makes it easier to adapt to the special learning needs of different children. I am intuitive to the children and don’t push them when I observe it is not the right time to. But I do require that they remain present and put in effort. The way to excel at anything it life, is to spend more time doing that the activity. I encourage any child that enjoys the violin to buy a violin so they can practice at home or consider booking a term of private lessons. Suzuki says only practice violin on the days you want to eat!
Maria Montessori was one of the first advocates for mixed-age classrooms. In her own words: “The main thing is that the groups should contain different ages because it has great influence on the cultural development of the child. This is obtained by the relations of the children among themselves.”
In authentic Montessori classrooms, the mixed-age grouping is essential. More specifically, Montessori designed her classrooms with specific three-year bands of children whose developmental needs overlap and complement each other. (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12). Here are only some of the many advantages of the mixed-age classrooms:
1. Montessori students feel more able to be themselves, as individuals.
Why? Think about a traditional classroom of 6-year-olds. It’s clear to the children that they are all “the same”. And that engenders comparisons and competition. Imagine a child thinking: I am like you. We are doing the same thing at the same time. It’s natural for me to look at your work to see if your handwriting is better, or mine is better. The teacher is measuring student work against student work. The children are being graded, and understand that they are being compared. In a Montessori classroom there is much more variety of abilities in every academic area, and there is room for that. And the children spend more time focusing on themselves and their individual desires, and less time worrying about what others are doing.
2. Montessori teachers focus on the children as unique individuals, not as an ability group.
Teachers are truly able to focus on each child’s individual strengths. Every child brings strengths, talents, and personality, curiosities and natural abilities to their Montessori classroom. Our job is to draw on those – to foster passions and topics of interest, and to let the students reveal themselves as much as to offer lessons when they show themselves to be ready. Having multiple age groups only serves to bring out even more creativity and uniqueness as the children gain inspiration from their older peers.
3. Montessori students find greater academic achievement.
Psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, noticed that younger children can be inspired by watching older, more advanced students and also receive lessons from them. Older children also benefit from re-teaching because it reinforces the previously learned concept and moves the child toward complete mastery. In fact, this is a well-researched phenomenon officially known as the “protégé effect.”’ We know that the best way to concretize and solidify learning is by teaching a concept to another successfully. Montessori students do this all the time. Additionally, the materials offer such a clear understanding of abstract concepts, that our students find more lightbulb moments and “Aha’s” than traditional students. Learning becomes more embedded and concepts serve as building blocks that form a logical progression and a solid foundation for future learning.
4. Montessori students become less teacher-dependent and more self-sufficient.
The multi-age classroom promotes a 6-year-old looking to an 8-year-old to help with a math problem, or for students to ask each other questions before going to the teacher. With so many young “teachers” in the classroom, there is less focus on the adult as having the answers and more empowerment to seek out ideas and each other. Montessori teachers call themselves Guides because we encourage children to learn to ask the right questions, as opposed to giving all of the answers. We seek knowledge along with our students, modelling curiosity and fortitude. We don’t give up until we find the information, or get the right answer. When we make a mistake, it’s a chance to learn and fix it.
5. Montessori students get to work at their own pace.
Teachers understand that skills develop for every student at the same age and in the same way. A child may be quite advanced and already writing and reading at the age of four, another child might not start handwriting until they’re five. However, there is space for all children, regardless of age, to learn at their own pace, leading to academic success tailored to the student’s own readiness.
6. Montessori students can repeat lessons and therefore achieve greater mastery.
Every new skill requires practice. Montessori students not only use the same materials in preschool and later in primary grades to deepen a concept, but they are also very free and encouraged to choose the same work over and over. And as they watch each other at varying ages, their curiosity and desire to expand their knowledge builds. They may use a material like the geometric solids at age 3 to explore sensorially, but may use that same material at 4 or 5 classifications of flat-sided or round shapes with no flat sides, and then as they explode into reading at 5 or 6, might learn the names of the geometric solids – matching them, and finally writing the names; in essence, the materials grow with the students.
7. Montessori students achieve mentorship and leadership.
Montessori students who enter a classroom at 3 or 6 or 9 years old (in their first year of a 3-year cycle) have the advantage of encountering children in their classrooms who have “learned the ropes” and are ready to be their role models and mentors. But there are also so many opportunities to be leaders, at every age. Even the youngest children can be leaders, taking another child student under their wing who might be sad, regardless of their age, or helping a friend to mop or sweep. This constant mentorship really grows their developing sense of self-confidence and character.
8. Montessori students form strong attachments.
The three-year cycle in a Montessori classroom helps to create strong relationships. Teachers know their students deeply. The children bond in ways that cannot happen when classrooms are turning over every year. The social benefits of multiple years of community building cannot be underestimated.
9. Real World Experience.
For most of our lives we are not segmented by age; we spend our days with different people of varying ages, abilities, talents, etc. Being in a group of non-homogenous individuals offers Montessori students more of a true experience of being in the real world with lots of different people.
There are so many more advantages to learning in a Montessori mixed-age classroom. If you haven’t yet scheduled a classroom observation, ask your child’s teacher when it might be a good time to come take a look. It’s the best 20-30 minutes you will spend!
Every year MSB reviews our safety and security measures to see what is working well, where we can improve, and then makes needed changes based on that examination.
As you know, we have adopted some new safety precautions this year:
MSB badges were created to establish which drivers and nannies (or other caregivers) are authorized to pick up your children/students. This program seems to be working very well, and thanks to all of you who have made sure that your staff wear their badges every day when they come to pick up.
The afternoon pickup for Lower and Upper Primary was moved inside the gates to prevent a bit of chaotic energy which we used to see at the carpark/shelter structure when dismissing in previous years. We trust that this new method is now part of your regular routine and from our vantage, it seems to be working well for everyone.
This year we have examined our playground supervision schedule and added an additional staff member at the edge of the play zone, so as to ensure that the children are abiding by and respecting the perimeter of their approved play area (the boundaries). Our daily playground supervision schedule rotates amongst all of the lower and upper primary leads and assistant teachers, the admin team, and even Jeff, so that we all have opportunities to reinforce and remind about limits and rules for playtime.
We are also in the process of working on the following improvements for everyone’s overall safety:
Tomorrow, the Primary team is calling a special all-student Primary assembly (Cempaka, Frangipani, Sandat and Melati) to review policies and procedures for playtime. This will include discussion of school boundaries (where we can and cannot go for playtime), rules regarding our play structures (like climbing equipment, trees, etc.), and overall procedures for govern student behavior, reinforce reporting of any incidents, and help students identify ways to avoid accidents. We will also discuss themes of cooperation over competition, kindness, and couch the conversation around the Montessori principles of respect for self, other and environment. We expect this interactive assembly to help reinforce firm limits; Jeff will help to preside over this all-Primary meeting where all Leads, Assistants, and the Administrative team who help with supervision, will all be present.
Our entire staff will be taking a new safety training course this year that deals with keeping children safe in school settings. This Professional Development course will be offered to our classroom and administrative staff over the coming months as we are able to schedule everyone for their training modules (from Oct – Jan). This particular training deals with abuse, neglect (signs and symptoms), as well as body safety, helping children to respect the boundaries of their bodies, ensuring staff awareness of body safety, etc. We are very excited to be able to offer this additional Professional Development awareness training for all staff at MSB.
In addition to all of that, you may not be aware that we employ 10 full-time security staff who work all day from sunrise to sundown (and overnight) to ensure we are safe and sound here at school every day.
Finally, on the topic of school safety, Anom has asked me to remind each of you about a few points related to everyone’s safety on campus:
Please always ride and drive slowly when approaching the parking entrance, and please continue to ride slowly when you enter the school grounds. It keeps the dust down, and, during the rainy season, helps to ensure there are no accidents due to muddy conditions. Of course it just makes it safer for everyone.
Anom also mentioned that MSB is going to be repairing the edge of our property at Jl. Raya Semat to facilitate safe entry to campus. This will happen sometime from October to December. In the meantime he asks that you drive slowly, especially if coming in on a scooter, and make your entry on an angle, not head on, to ensure your safe entry.
Anom and the security team also remind you to please DO NOT pick up or drop off on Gang Anggrek or in front of school, to avoid traffic and dangerous crossing for children. We prefer you use the pickup and drop off areas in the car park so that our team can safely escort you and your children across the street. If you have caregivers who pickup and drop off, please offer them this reminder as well.
As Montessori educators, we understand the huge importance of literacy for children. As we track their development, beginning in the infant-toddler community, the huge role that language plays is already evident, even to an untrained observer.
Montessori teachers speak in full sentences, using proper words with babies (not nicknaming or making nonsensical sounds) as the youngest children in our community are in what Montessori referred to as their Sensitive Period for language. (lasting from birth – six).
In the Infant-Toddler classroom, the teachers begin to “name” everything, so that the children are constantly building their vocabulary and learning more and more words to keep in the dictionary which is their mind; words which can be called upon again and again as they make meaning of themselves and of their classroom community. A teacher may invite a child to “look in the mirror… I notice that you have some mucous under your nose…” and then suggest “let’s get a tissue so you can wipe that and your face will be clean!”
At these early ages, we are also introducing board books; good sturdy hard-cover books which the children can pick up and learn to hold, enjoying colorful pictures, and also learning how to hold books while turning pages, one by one. Of course, like everything, books go into mouths at this age, as the children are learning to experience everything fully and with their senses.
Montessori works are arranged on the shelf from left to right, from the most basic to the more complex work, and they are laid out in the way that we read, which subconsciously trains the eye for scanning the written page, left to right.
Once the children reach the Preschool, often at the very beginning of the school year, the Lead Teacher may offer a lesson called “labeling the environment”. She may gather a group of children and begin to write individual words on small pieces of paper. Each time she writes a word, she reads the word, then with a small piece of tape, makes the paper ready to become a label. “Chair” says the first paper. And she asks for a child to volunteer to put the label that says “chair” on a chair. Next she may write “table”, then “window” then “door” until almost every surface of the classroom is labeled with its name. This lesson shows the children that things have names, and that names are words that can be written. Of course, this sparks an interest in reading and writing.
Later, students will be introduced to the sandpaper letters, and here they will trace cursive letters while making the sounds that each letter makes. The students will begin to memorize the shapes of letters and their corresponding sounds, which then become the building blocks for building and decoding three-letter words (c-a-t).
Another material in the Preschool that aids in the development of literacy is the moveable alphabet, a box of small wooden letters from a – z which are used to build words (boy) to phrases (a boy) to short sentences (a boy wlkd) << this is called inventive spelling, referenced below.
The children use the letters to encode (create words) with “inventive spelling”, at first, which shows the Lead Teacher that the child is familiar with the mechanics and rules of spelling, and so a story may begin “wunc upn a tim”. And while we can see immediately that spelling errors abound, in this case we are excited for children who are emergent writers to be able to communicate with letters and get ideas across, so the actual spelling of the words is less important than the child’s ability to tell a short story. In Montessori we refer to this as “isolating the difficulty”. In other words, teaching one thing at a time, and only focusing on that. If we want a child to write a creative story, knowing that the sounding out of each letter is laborious and will take a lot of time, we don’t want to squelch the creativity, so we allow for spelling mistakes, and if we can read what has been written (“wunc upn a tim…”), we know that they are tracking and we can see creative writing emerge, which was the goal. Children are so proud when they can write their own story and someone can read it back to them! Spelling can be addressed later and in isolation when we work with the students and focus on spelling.
Once the students reach Primary grades, reading is essential. Every work that they undertake in the 6-9 classroom involved reading (decoding) and writing (encoding) and this is true across the curriculum when attacking any subject matter from botany, to zoology to geography, and even in math, where the students will be confronted with story problems and the like.
Montessori students are immersed in language-rich classrooms and are exposed to vocabulary like square-based prism, ellipse, ovoid, pinnate and palmate leaves…Paleozoic and Cenozoic Eras, it goes on and on. It’s scientific vocabulary, definitions, characteristics, sorting, classifying… they are learning to make sense of the world around them, using words.
We are excited to offer your children such strong exposure to literature, literacy and hopefully, a love of the process of acquiring information using reading and writing skills.
As you know, MSB has offered previous reminders in the Banner about the school rules on helmet wearing. Taken from the Handbook: “The wearing of motorcycle helmets is mandatory for all motorcycle riders and pillion passengers on school premises.”
We received correspondence from an MSB family recently that we thought was worth sharing:
“During pick up and drop off, we see new parents coming with their children in a very Balinese style (a whole family of 4 without helmets). While it is a common sight in Bali, I feel the need to try to prevent any tragic thing to happen within our community because of ignorance.
Here are several reasons to remind all MSB families, especially those who may be new to Bali, to wear their helmets:
Many Indonesians do not participate in eye examinations, even when they may not see clearly. Years ago there was a humanitarian program offering free community check-ups for eye health. Still, there are many on the roads driving with poor eyesight. Couple this with today’s culture of being on the phone while driving and we have a delicious recipe for road accidents.
Due to the influx tourists and newcomers to Bali, especially around the school, driving has become more dangerous than ever. Many tourists are driving scooters without an understanding of the organized chaos and unwritten rules that are practiced on the street.
As long-term and seasoned Bali dwellers, our family understands the need to wear helmets and we enforce it to our kids. It’s not about the rules, it is about safety, and it becomes more difficult to enforce when they see their friends arriving with no helmets; especially for younger children.
There are so many unknown variables that can happen on the road that may lead to accidents, big or small. I’m not entirely surprised by a recent series of fatal accidents that have taken place in Jl Raya Canggu and around Canggu. It doesn’t take much for an accident to happen, really.
Thank you for offering this reminder, ( to the MSB Community) not from the administration, but a concerned fellow MSB parent and family… and hoping for a safe, healthy and thriving community of MSB always.“
I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, my teachers and school role models were not always kind. I was a shy, awkward student, unsure of how to make friends. I really never felt seen or regarded for the person I was by the adults in my school classrooms. In those days, feelings and moral development were not very much on the radar, unless it was teachers doling out rewards and punishment, which were prevalent. What I and other children like me needed, were teachers who were versed in character development.
As Montessori educators, we seek to build the whole child: expanding and facilitating intellectual, social, physical and emotional growth, which includes character education. There are several key components of the philosophy that lend themselves to this work.
CLASSROOM RULES and EXPECTATIONS
First, and most importantly, are the basic classroom rules: Care (Respect) for Self, Care (Respect) for the Environment, and Care (Respect) for Others. This set of basic guidelines create a safe ‘container’ making the classroom a place where it is normal and reinforced daily to use a quiet voice, to walk slowly and purposefully, to clean up a mess you may have made, and to leave your work on the shelf “ready” (and beautiful) for the next person. This work is ongoing; it lasts for three years and develops piece by piece. It’s the child’s awareness muscle, flexing and contracting.
POWER OF OBSERVATION
Montessori classrooms are places where every child is noticed, and carefully observed by their teachers. We Montessori teachers see your child in all of their facets; their amazing strengths, as well as their challenges. And we seek to help them to recognize ‘good choices’ (work choices as well as behavioral choices.) that can be made in order to become the best person they can be. Mastery in Montessori comes through repetition.
THE DESIRE TO BELONG
There is a certain “positive peer pressure” that exists in the Montessori classroom. The rules are few and they are crystallized and reinforced daily. The child’s natural tendency to want to “fit in” (which develops slowly, increasing with age, especially around the age of 5, but even earlier) greatly assists with helping to reinforce the social norms of the classroom.
The role modeling that happens within the three-year age span cannot be underestimated. There is huge value in younger, inexperienced students learning directly from older classmates. And there is nothing better than a five-year-old child reminding a three-year-old student: “I noticed you running in the classroom. We use walking feet. Can you go back and show me how you walk?” No need for the adult to be authoritarian when the children are kindly restating rules and nonjudgmentally asking each other to make good choices!
ADULT ROLE MODELS
Our Montessori teachers lead by example. We can’t ask the children to walk in the classroom or speak in a quiet voice, or to return their work to the spot where they found it if we are not demonstrating those choices. We understand the importance of being the examples.
THE PEACE CURRICULUM
Another aspect of the Montessori classroom that serves to help build a child’s sense of self is the Peace Curriculum. Montessori education came in the time of the First World War when factions were positioned on the world stage to destroy each other. Maria Montessori had the vision that if peace was to be achieved, it would ultimately be the children who would make the biggest difference. Embedded in the classroom is a peace curriculum; a set of tools which helps children to find their unique voice when needing to address concerns, resolve conflicts, even have a challenging conversation.
In the 0-3 and Preschool classrooms, this may look like a teacher offering words to a child if they don’t have them. “Tell him: ‘No…!’ you don’t like it when he takes your work…” a teacher may say. Then the child can practice using those words (or their own words) to express such feelings. Primary-aged children may benefit from learning reflective listening techniques in a conflict, modeled by their teacher, sounding something like this:
Child 1: “When you said I couldn’t play with you, I felt sad. I really wanted to play with you today.”
Child 2: “What I hear you saying is that when I didn’t want to play with you, you felt sad.”
Child 1: “Yes, I did.”
Child 2: “I didn’t mean to make you feel sad. Maybe we can play together this afternoon…”
Often this needs to be encouraged and modeled and the goal is for everyone involved to feel some resolution, comfort and satisfaction.
Upper Primary students often participate in a form of student government, learning to identify sources of conflict or issues needing to be addressed, and then work through a process of self-led problem-solving where students brainstorm solutions and think through outcomes to choose the best options. Often the teacher sits back to listen and offers input when asked, and the conversation may unfold with no adult intervention.
EXPERIENCES of MINDFULNESS
In the day and life of a Montessori student, there are so many opportunities to be mindful. They begin as the child enters the classroom and can be seen:
– in the eye contact and kind “good morning” (or handshake) from the lead teacher,
– in the peaceful and calm air of the classroom,
– through the prepared environment which may include fresh flowers, nice clean smells, order and beauty,
– in activities like painting, flower arranging, or using a beautiful Montessori material,
– in walking on the line… Preschool children may arrive at a circle time meeting when one child is quietly tapped on the shoulder and they come to the circle/oval which is on the floor (usually made of tape) slowly walking on the line, balancing toe to heel. The next child arrives, and then the next, until the whole group is walking one behind the other in silence. Then the group sits down and begins their circle time,
– in choosing a place to work that is appealing; indoors, outside, under a tree, in a cozy corner, just by being present and aware about where the child would feel best doing their work and choosing to be there.
All of us as human beings want to do the right thing, and we seek to find meaning and to feel good through our efforts as we journey through the many phases and levels and tests of our moral development.
Your students are on a path of heeding their own call to excel, to make healthy, positive prosocial choices which not only serve themselves, but also their classroom communities.
It’s exciting to work with young children and to be able to guide them with powerful Montessori tools to develop kindness, compassion, empathy, mindfulness, politeness and honesty. We hope to help them to learn important moral lessons that will ultimately benefit everyone they touch.