Montessori in Haiti

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“During the first 2 weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, saving lives and emergency help had absolute priority. Now funds for rescue and basic needs like water, food, shelter and medical care have been collected and help is - hopefully - starting to reach the deprived people. Starting from scratch to rebuild Haiti is now the concern not only of Haitians, but also of the woken-up global community.
This provides hope for the country and especially for its children.
For a sustainable development in Haiti, giving children a chance to learn through good quality early care and education is also a basic need, a basic human right. We are engaged in early childhood development in Haiti since the creation of our Peter-Hesse-Foundation in 1983 through the training of over 800 Montessori pre-school teachers and helping to open over 50 Montessori pre-schools for deprived children - together with local initiatives - all over Haiti”. - taken from the Peter Hesse website.

The Peter Hesse Foundation began its Montessori initiative with the objective of improving the quality of early childhood education in Haiti. To be able to do this effectively, the Foundation launched its efforts in two directions: training teachers and establishing preschools. Today, the Montessori initiative has evolved into a network of preschools and teacher training centers, directed and run by graduates of the “Centre Montessori d’Haiti”.

It is stated on the Peter Hesse Foundation website that “the public education system does not include preschool. All existing preschools are private. This means that most of the economically disadvantaged children are excluded from education at the most crucial stage of their development, when the wiring and sculpturing of the brain, that builds the capacity for learning, takes place.

Traditional Haitian schools are in desperate need of modernization. Here children do not learn to solve problems or think creatively. Rote learning is very much the norm and knowledge is measured by how well a given text can be repeated word by word. Individual thinking is discouraged, since educators still believe that “children should be seen and not heard”. Curiosity and questioning are often viewed as confrontational or rebellious by teachers and, therefore, dealt with harshly. This kind of education stifles analytical thinking and limits the next generation from participation in policies that affect their lives. Given Haiti’s background of violence, political turmoil and civil unrest, a different kind of education is necessary.”

Why Montessori?

The Montessori environment is orderly in contrast to the makeshift environments that most Haitian children are used to. In depressed urban areas, a household may consist of extended family members and various relatives sharing a very small living space, and children are given the last consideration in the social pecking order.

In the Montessori environment, children are respected and are free to pursue activities of their choice. This freedom allows children to feel good about themselves while promoting the development of powers of deliberation, initiative, independent choice and self-discipline with the emotional compliments. In the Montessori environment, each child is an active participant in a group and can contribute to the group in a positive way.

The fundamental tenet of Montessori education is to allow children to learn in a social environment that supports the unique development of each child. As opposed to the more traditional “Kindergarten”, which involves group learning, Montessori emphasizes individual learning. Children learn better on an individual level, since not two children are alike and children will be ready for different experiences at different times.

Montessori recognizes that children go through different stages of development during which they can most easily master a particular learning skill. These developmental stages occur at different times for different children. Individual learning gives each child the chance to master a particular learning skill relevant to his/her developmental stage.

Montessori emphasizes children’s developmental age and not their chronological age, since age does not determine a child’s ability. Classes are structured within a three year age range. This gives children a chance to work at their own pace without being judged as quick or slow in comparison to their specific age group. When children work in mixed age groups, they will have a graded series of models for imitation and the opportunity to reinforce their knowledge by helping each other.

The holistic Montessori curriculum helps children develop the physical, cognitive and emotional competence and positive attitude towards learning that is required for school success.
The learning environment ensures the development of self-esteem and provides experiences from which children can create their knowledge.

It gives these children hope.

Westside Montessori School has donated $200 to Doctors without Borders for their relief efforts in Haiti.

February 1, 2010. Uncategorized. No Comments.

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