Edition 4 | June 2018

Living Learning

Rose Aung Thein shares her parenting journey at FMS.

Rose Aung TheinReginald & Rose Aung Thein

My nine-year-old daughter told me the other day that when she has her own children, she wants them to also go to a Montessori school. One of my sons asked if there was also Montessori University because he wants to attend there. Another son told me of his dilemma that he loves it when holidays come but at the same time, he also misses school and can't wait to go back.

My husband and I hoped to have a large family, and our wish was absolutely granted with the blessing of having six children, three boys and three girls, aged 8 months, 2, 4, 7, 9 and 11 years. They all attend Forestville Montessori School in their respective age group classes, from Nido in the Infant Community through to 9-12. My eldest will graduate from the primary school after this year.

For my children, school and home are the natural extensions of each other. At both places, their opinions are respected and encouraged; they contribute in keeping their living and learning environment clean, ordered and beautiful; they are given time and space to explore, experiment and enjoy the natural world as deeply as they need; they express their unique personalities through their own clothing choices, movement and musical preferences, and creativity outlets. From these foundations, they live, experience and view life as an interconnected cosmic reality. Within this reality, they discover that they have a particularly unique role to fulfil, which will ultimately lead them to their career choice. Education is a means to an end but not an end in itself.

The dynamics of Montessori become really apparent when observed among multiple children in the same family. With reading, for example, the timing of reaching fluency in reading ranges from a child who was reading "Harry Potter" books by the age of seven to another child needing help in reading simple words at the same age. On the other hand, I have a younger child who is better at memorising times tables than the older siblings. And that is OK. Montessori children are "organic" and they ripen at their own time but with careful and intelligent assistance from adults when extra help and guidance is needed.

One of the initial reasons that influenced us to choose a Montessori primary school over a local Catholic school was the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), which is a Christian faith formation of children aged 3 to 12 years grounded in the scriptural and liturgical study framed by Maria Montessori. For our family, the weekly CGS extracurricular program perfectly complemented the Montessori school and made up for the lack of religious component.

Another amazing discovery through Montessori is the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN), which my children have been involved with for the past two years. This has been a truly empowering way (both for children and adults) to invest in education.

Our Montessori experience has been a journey of discovery and it continues to lead us to a more fulfilling way of living. I'm looking forward to exploring more about its applications for the older generations in our society. There are already trends toward using it in university and workplace settings.

Montessori is not just a system of education but a lifestyle choice. It is a way of viewing and living the world that gives purpose and hope.