There has been a lot of research on Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Singapore and othercountries in the world. It has been prompted by the various studies confirmingthat children learn differently and have different levels of understanding. Therefore,it makes sense that there should exist a number of education theories andvarying methods that teachers can apply in classrooms.

What is a Montessori method?

One of those popular ways is theMontessori Method, which was developed in 1907 by Maria Montessori. It is aspecific child-centred method of teaching that involves child-led activities toencourage independence among pupils. There are numerous Montessori schools inSingapore and across the world. And many Singaporean have to come into termswith the costly fees charged at Montessori schools to pay for their toddlers toget educated in this method. In real figures, a parent has to part with betweenS$4000 to S$3,000 per month.

Dr Montessori had a unique belief thatkids learn best when they choose what to study and that philosophy is what ispractised in all Montessori classrooms today. The Montessori style involveslarge spaces divided into various activity zones to help children engage inexploration rather than a traditional classroom stuffed with desks. Textbooksare there to facilitate learning, different discovery areas, experimentationspaces and materials to promote hands-on learning, which often resemblesbuilding blocks, puzzles, clay and other natural and physical materials.

Real Montessori schools in Singapore

Montessori does not need endorsementfor its method to be used, as it is an international system. This means thatany school can claim to use the technique. It is the same reason why mostSingapore schools are so expensive. However, a MOE study found that many preschoolsclaiming to be using specific teaching methodologies like the Montessori methodrarely manage to do so due to the high pressure to prepare the kids for primaryeducation. It is also an apparent fact that their teachers are not well-trainedon the method which means that they may not deliver fully what is required ofthe system.

The schools in Singapore claiming touse the Montessori style are particularly expensive. This is because they maynot be exactly using the Montessori method but may have incorporated othercurriculums similar to Montessori which are similarly expensive. Well, the ruleof the thumb is—they are not true Montessori schools. It should be noted thatkids who are enrolled in these schools have to work extra than other Montessoribased kids.

This is because the schools have tosuccumb to pressures from parents demanding that children be prepared forprimary school which forces the teachers to conduct short Montessori stylelessons and spend the rest of the day conducting academic lessons. Note thatthis is at complete odds with the vision of Montessori’s approach whichstrictly forbids against tests and grading.

Why are Montessori schools soexpensive?

Any Montessori school in any countryincluding Singapore is among the most expensive schools you will come across,regardless of age. Well, there are a few reasons for the hike in fees one beingthe quality of teachers Montessori hires. Montessori school teachers are notordinary teachers who have gone through any formal training in any college oruniversity.

These are teachers who are speciallytrained to read pupils and not just mechanically rattle off similar lessons dayin, day out throughout the year. Instead, they’re trained to assess thechildren and facilitate the application of a unique method specifically meantfor the child based on his or her individual needs and age. In other words, aMontessori teacher has a more personal approach to the pupils and has tounderstand each child’s strengths and weaknesses. You can already tell thatthese extraordinary teachers cannot be paid a few coins and that their salaries are expected to behigherthan other regular teachers in other schools.

Montessori classrooms are not thosewith plain desks and a few charts on the wall but more spacious, and speciallydesigned to involve the pupils in practical studies using materials andexperiments. Therefore, these classrooms can be expensive to build, stock andmaintain as the material can be expensive and vulnerable when being used bykids.

Are there affordable Montessori schoolsin Singapore?

Probably one of the most askedquestions in Singapore is the availability of affordable Montessori schools inthe country. Well, as we mentioned above, some schools claim to use theMontessori system but in real sense do not. These schools are usuallyrelatively cheaper than original Montessori schools. That is why it is prudent,that you first seek the schools with the most reasonable rates. If you go forthe cheapest one available, you may not be doing any good to your child. Infact, you may be hurting his mind.

Benefits of enrolling your child in aMontessori School

One obvious thing that will captureyour eyes the moment you visit a Montessori school is the beauty. Colourfulpaintings, as well as natural light and space, are just some of the prioritiesin all classrooms.

“Creating abeautiful and accessible environment is of paramount importance, as childrendirect their own learning with the help of meticulously designed learningaids,” — KarenRicks, Founder of international Montessori school in Japan.

Karen Ricks explains that the use ofthese materials helps learners to relate theoretical learning to practicallearning and understanding of vocabulary when repeated or seen every day. Theindependently used material provides the learners with the chance to developcoordination and concentration in addition to the standard typical traditionalacademic system.

Children are attracted to do what other children are doing, and Montessori takes advantage of that and capitalizes on grouping the kids of varying ages together in similar learning environment. Mixed age grouping intends to foster peer-to-peer learning an also allow the children to learn from each other and develop life skills such as self-esteem, acceptance and inclusion.

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