Our care of the child should be governed by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.
— Dr. Maria Montessori, The Advanced Montessori Method
The challenge posed by the pandemic upon MMCS -- and the 20, 000 other Montessori schools globally -- was an interesting one: how might we provide a Montessori education in a remote/distance-learning environment?
[It's] not the Pink Tower or the Golden Beads that make a Montessori school. In fact, one should be able to open a Montessori school with none of the materials and only natural resources available. If one is trained correctly, one should be able to do Montessori anywhere!
— Dr. Punum Bathia, Montessori practitioner for over 30 years
We listened to and worked with the Community to design our learn-from-home (LFH) program, and tackled head-on the three fundamental components that characterize Montessori:
The Child (or Adolescent)
A Montessori education sparks the learner through:
independence -- the freedom to choose what and how they learn
and flow -- allowing them the time and space to get absorbed in their tasks, and work toward achieving mastery
Our Montessori@home program provides this freedom and flow through some adaptations to the Prepared Environment and the Guide / Prepared Adult.
The Prepared Environment
The learning space at home doesn't have to be fancy, as long as there is uncluttered, dedicated space for the child.
The children are given materials in advance -- a combination of digital work through the LFH platforms, and physical material provided by the school.
At-home adaptations are encouraged, especially applying practical life skills by helping around the house.
The Guide (or Prepared Adult)
While there are scheduled classroom sessions, the children continue to have freedom within limits, the flexibility to choose what they want to work on from the presented materials. The children are able to communicate with their class guides outside the classroom sessions if needed.
The parents, too, have access to the teachers and co-parents, because now more than ever, the child's education is not just guided by their teacher, but also by their parents and the adults at home.
working with materials readily available at home
making the space and finding the time to study
practical life, applied!
Montessori siblings in different levels, helping each other out
The Four Planes of Development
Montessori education is based on the idea that children develop through a series of four planes, each with clear, defining characteristics. Our different levels address the needs of each plane.
At this age and stage, children are like sponges -- absorbing everything, picking up skills and language effortlessly. They learn using all their senses, and have a wonderful sense of order; they observe, categorize and organize. They love repeating words and actions, perfecting what they're learning, so that they can proudly say "I can do it!"
Learn more about Casa here.
Casa Half-Day (~2.5-4.5 years old)
The Casa program feeds the children's absorbent minds by using materials that let them experience abstract concepts (such as numbers) with their senses, and by allowing the children to work on what they want, for the whole morning if they want. This helps them develop independence, concentration, coordination, and work habits necessary for later learning.
Casa Extended Day (~4.5-6 years old)
When they are ready for group work for longer hours (typically around their 5th birthday), children are given the whole day to do their learning. They stay for lunch with their classmates and teacher, and continue on for another 3-hour session in the afternoon.
In their Elementary years, children begin to look outside themselves, to the world and to their peers. Whereas a Casa child would be happy focusing on their own work, at this stage they find that they want to work with their friends. They also start forming different peer groups.
This is the period where children strive to make sense of things and for mental independence, so this level focuses on helping them see, understand, and live in the interconnectedness and interdependency of the world, and even the universe.
Learn more about Elementary here.
Lower Elementary (~6-9 years old)
Children in Lower Elementary are developing their reasoning mind along with a powerful imagination. They are intellectually curious, and so are introduced to the cultural subjects: science, history, and geography, on top of continuing to support their growth in math and language.
Again, they are encouraged to explore, to satisfy their thirst for knowledge on their own, but of course with the classroom and the guide to assist them, not just with their work, but also in their working with other children.
Upper Elementary (~9-12 years old)
The Upper Elementary years are marked by significant mental growth, most evident in the way the children begin to bring together their understanding of human society, harmony and balance in the universe, and the role they play in both. They continue to develop their imagination and independence, as their personality and their values become more defined.
At this stage, they are drawn toward more complex work, and love creating -- making tangible in the world the things that they see in their minds. They love hearing stories of greatness and goodness, to help them build their moral compass. They are also growing physically; they want to go out and explore the world around them, the variety of cultures, the diversity of environments.
MMCS's Upper Elementary curriculum guides the children in satisfying all these sensitivities, showing them that they are loved, respected, and understood.
Adolescent Program (AP)
With major changes happening in all aspects of their development, the children metamorphose into adolescents. The social connections they formed in their Elementary years become critical to them, as they rely heavily on their relationships with their peers on this journey through young adulthood.
They are developing an even stronger sense of responsibility and morality, and want to remain independent from adults, though they are not quite ready. Our AP is about allowing them to experiment with independence, while providing guidance, structure, and a safe space.
Learn more about the AP here.
The AP Years
The MMCS AP offers families a unique partnership between home and school in the development of your unique, wonderfully complex teenager. Designed by our AMI-trained Guides to be deeply imbued with Montessori principles, the AP provides a vigorous liberal arts, humanities-driven, academic base and work culture that will prepare your child not only for university work, but for adulthood.
The AP does so with a full high school (Grades 7 - 12) course of study that fosters an earnest love of learning -- a firing-up of the intellect and imagination, self-knowledge, reflection, observation, and integrative thinking.
On this firm intellectual base, other areas of development are nurtured, working with the adolescent towards forming a whole person, cognizant of their own goals in constructing themselves emotionally, socially, physically, and morally.
Student Life is vibrant, led largely by the student themselves, guided by the AP’s unique co-curricular, leadership, and guidance programs. Parents are very involved throughout, as this collaboration is essential to the optimal development of the child.
Parent-Teacher Conferences are held 4 times a year, and the adolescent is, of course, present at these conferences -- this is their education after all. From Grade 10, the teen actually leads the conference! With everyone at the same table, everyone stays on the same page regarding development needs and goals.
At the end of the 6 years emerges a young, confident, and healthy adult who has a firm self-identity, is self-aware, values her/his worth, and has a good idea of where they want to go -- a Montessori-nurtured citizen of peace, ready for life and the world.
The MMCS AP student loves to learn, and knows how to learn. For the modern professional facing a future that even today's adults struggle to imagine, this lifelong love for learning means that your child will always be ready to adapt to change, and more importantly, be the change in the world.
The AP prepares our children for their growth and life beyond MMCS. Our graduates have no problem getting into universities, and find that their MMCS education and their love for learning helps them thrive and excel.
Since its founding 50 years ago, MMCS has taken pride in providing authentic Montessori education to generations of children in Manila. To do this, we invest heavily in our faculty development.
We make an effort to have at least one guide per classroom who trained with AMI abroad, and have continuous in-house Montessori courses for our other faculty members who have not yet taken their AMI training. This is to ensure the delivery of a Montessori education that stays true to Dr. Montessori's design and philosophy.
Our teachers and school have not only ignited the love for learning in its graduates, but even the love for teaching in some. We have current faculty members who are MMCS alumni, who have come back to serve the school that they grew up in, teaching the next generation of Montessori graduates.