March 13, 2011

Inner Sydney Montessori School

I found out from Wendy’s blog that Inner Sydney Montessori School was having an open day. Lately I’ve become interested in exploring different types of educational philosophies so I decided to head along and see what Montessori looks like in practise.
I had a look at the 3-6 rooms and the older classrooms, but my main interest was in the room where the Parent-Toddler-Program was run. I spent a while talking with the teacher there about how things are run. Parents come with their toddlers for a 2-hour session once a week, to interact with the materials and the teacher and learn about using the Montessori principles at home.

I loved how beautiful everything was, how everything was set out for children to easily reach and children are offered real things to interact with.

I was fascinated by the matching cards that I saw (similar to the ones below). During the tour a little boy who hadn’t been there before went up to a set of sorting cards and naturally began to sort. I made up a few card sets of my own to use in my room, to see what my kids do with them.

I realised I could never be fully Montessori because I was a bit concerned about how individual everything seemed to be. I’m a big believer in relationships being key to learning, and that most (if not every) activity should be able to be used by several children at once, as appose to each child having their own individual work area.

I also would like both adults and children to feel welcome in my environment – where as this school seemed so child focused that there seemed to be no real place for adults. I believe there should be a mix of both child and adult sized furniture and materials.


Wendy said...

Hi Erin

I'm glad someone managed to go check it out and share it with everyone.

My Bosses children attend there in the morning (and our centre in the afternoon - she believes our centre is vital part of their education but also greatly respects the montessori philosophy).

Did you have a chance to talk to the directors? The Lilyfield campus director is very child-adult relationship focus and treats the children with great respect. She also offered the chance for booking observations if any one is interested about learning more.

Interestingly, I sometimes find the provision of 'adult' furniture sometimes leads to the adults separating themselves from the child eg at my last job my boss actually said to me that the adults were not there to play with the children only to supervise. In contrast, my belief is if you are not playing with the children you are not doing it right (one of the best blog is Teacher Tom's one about "if it's not fun your not doing it right".

But balancing that i do believe in providing the children with adult size furniture as artificially child size furniture does not reflect real life.

Hope that makes sense :)

Erin said...

Hi Wendy - I understand exactly what you mean.

I didn’t know much about Montessori, so really was just going on what I observed. I didn't get to have huge chats with the teachers - there were heaps of people there and I felt bad taking up teacher’s time when parents of perspective students wanted to talk. It would be great to see a day with children present - but hard to get to when working full time.

I think it depends how you set up the adult furniture. If it's to the side, away from activities then it encourages staff to just supervise. But if it's mixed up with the children’s furniture and set amongst the 'action' it encourages staff to be there with the children without their legs going numb (personal experience!). (And also allows children to use real life furniture – as you said)

Of course some staff will not interact no matter what you do - they don’t realise this job is meant to be fun (agh!)