Maria Montessori, Loris Malaguzzi and Rudolf Steiner were great educationists who developed the Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf theories of education respectively. These three approaches to early education are progressive and their influence on educational practices has spread all over the world. The school I will develop is called “Future leader’s pre-school and kindergarten”, and it will incorporate these three theories.
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Physical Environment and Buildings
The Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf theories agree that for the young children the classroom should be like an extension of the home environment. Young children start learning at home whereby learning is practical and involves the five senses to sharpen their abilities (Montessori, 2004). When home, young children have sessions of play and also learn by asking questions. My school “Future leader’s pre-school and kindergarten” buildings will adopt an architectural model that bears great resemblance to the houses in the neighborhood.
The environment of the classroom will resample home environment with the same things used for outdoor play at home, swings i.e. School Aids to education and development will adopt Waldorf schools model where things are made from simple materials that are naturally available, and they will be imaginatively and transformative to fit various learning purposes Fenner and Rivers, 1995). The “Future leader’s pre-school and kindergarten” classrooms and compound will be designed in a way to encourage communication and build friendly relationships among children. The structural arrangement of “Future leader’s pre-school and kindergarten” will be designed to enable children to make choices, discoveries and solving problems in the process of learning (Edwards, Gandini and Forman, 1998).
I will make sure that the compound outside the classrooms is big enough to encourage healthy outdoor activities since these activities enable young children to learn how to manipulate the environment and analyze their senses hence increasing their knowledge of the environment around them which helps them become future productive society members as per Montessori theory (Montessori, 2004). Since schooling and education are two different aspects, the design of the buildings and surrounding environment will be done with the ultimate aim of providing the best schooling atmosphere in order for young children to get the best education.
The school interview panel will interview and select the best members of staff for my school. The following points derived from the 3 theories can act as guides during the selection process. The points that follow should be taken into consideration during the staff selection process:
- A teacher should be able to teach young children to experience the world using the five senses as per the Montessori theory (Montessori, 2004).
- Members of the teaching staff should be able to understand how to implement the curriculum which includes spirituality from various traditions without favoring any of them.
- The panel should recruit members of staff who understand that, pedagogical issues should be decided through consensus.
- On financial and legal issues the school is supposed to have board members who make those decisions (Edwards, Gandini and Forman, 1998).
- Members of staff should be able to offer themselves for the process of passing knowledge and to open doors to new possibilities.
- According to Reggio Emilia, a teacher is supposed to allow the children to ask questions, develop solutions and test them, discuss and debate their explorations on various possibilities, communicate amongst themselves, use of symbolic language to represent ideas and hypothesis, all these things should be tested during staff selection, (Edwards, Gandini and Forman, 1998).
- The members of staff to be selected should be keen partners, documenters and observers in the learning process. Documentation is important in the Reggio Emilia model because it’s vital as a research tool in studying the learning process. (Edwards, Gandini and Forman, 1998).
- Montessori emphasizes that, it is important that children be taught at a young age proper nutrition, self-discipline, and hygiene, independence, generalization and language acquisition skills so that they can mature as productive members of society (Montessori, 2004). During staff selection these qualities should be taken into consideration.
- According to Montessori (2004), no child should be denied education as long as he or she is willing to get educated, this includes even young children with special needs, thus any member of staff who qualifies to be selected should be able to come up with arithmetic, physical education, language acquisition, sensory training, and practical skills in order to be an effective educator of the young children.
- All members of staff that selected should be able to understand that mistakes are an important part of the natural learning process, thus members of staff to be selected are those who do not forbid children to choose the materials they want to learn at the moment and are willing to work with (Fenner and Rivers, 1995).
My school “Future leader’s pre-school and kindergarten” will form and encourage a solid communication network between the school, parents and children. This cooperation will play an important role in issues of staff development since it involves a good working environment, good remuneration and training and thus, each of the three partners in this cooperation will have a contribution to make towards staff development. According to Reggio Emilia, these three partners work together to create an atmosphere of collaboration, co-operation and co-construction of knowledge since they are all geared towards a common purpose, (Edwards, Gandini and Forman, 1998). I will encourage the staff to take training courses that will improve their professional skills and at the same time, encourage parents to make their contribution to staff development.
In my school, teaching staff will get adequate training on how to use media in educating young children. Although Waldorf theory states that using popular media is not good for the instruction of children, I will differ and adopt the Montessori theory (2004) in my school which emphasizes that the ultimate goal of educating young children can only be achieved by encouraging and allowing young children to manipulate their environment which gives practical life skills gearing them towards becoming productive members of the society, so as our modern society is inseparable from this technology, hence I will encourage the teaching staff to take training courses that will empower them with skills on using these technologies in educating the young children. I will offer my staff the best remuneration which the budget of my school can afford so that they can develop themselves and their families. Promotions of staff in my school will be based on performance and merit which will encourage the staff to take positive steps towards their self-development.
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The curriculum that my school will adopt will be based on the adoption of practical skills, outdoor playtime, art, music, literacy and language skills, arithmetic, and introduction to the alphabet, numeral s, handwork, painting, and modeling. In the school each classroom will be staffed with two trained teachers and will consist of 25-35 children. The furniture and fittings will be child-sized; this includes the chairs, tables and shelves that will contain classroom materials.
Materials for developing practical skills that are vital for sensory development of the young children will be kept in the classrooms, i.e. spooning and pouring materials. Each teacher will have the duty to guide his/her class to establish the learning needs of each child in the classroom. The teachers will guide each child as children start to interact, make choices, and discover materials present in their learning environment. During the lessons, the teachers will introduce concepts, and then children will be encouraged to investigate, discover and ask questions about the new concept.
My school has borrowed the concept of Reggio Emilia because parents are important partners, collaborators, and advocates of their children. My school will accord great respect to the parents since they are the first instructors of the child. In my school, parents will be encouraged to volunteer themselves in school projects and continue doing so even after their child has left the school. They will also be encouraged to incorporate the principles of the school and the school’s teaching practices in parenting their child at home. Parents will always be informed of the school activities in order for them to attend them because of its one of their important obligations to their child and school. Parents will have the duty of encouraging their child, providing study space and time, helping their child to improve his/her school work, tutoring and monitoring homework at home and modeling the good behavior of their child.
Montessori, M. (2004). Montessori Method. Gutek, G. L. (Ed.) Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.
Edwards, C. P., Gandini, L, and Forman, G. E. (1998). The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach–advanced Reflections. (2nd. Ed.). USA: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Fenner, P. J., and Rivers, K. L. (1995). Waldorf Education: A Family Guide. Amesbury, MA: Michaelmas Press.