Montessori with a twist | Bangkok Post: learning

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Montessori with a twist

With three teachers team-teaching in the same classroom, speaking in Mandarin, Thai and English, there is hardly a doubt that young pupils will quickly become trilingual

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The Montessori Academy Bangkok is a trilingual, early learning centre for children 1.5 to 6 years of age, and as the name implies, bases its curriculum on the pedagogic method developed by the renowned Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori (1870-1952). 

Charmaine Soh Chian Mui in the teaching mode, where she is at her natural best. PHOTOS: BJ JOHNSON

The Montessori Academy Bangkok (MAB) recently had its grand opening and shortly thereafter, Charmaine Soh Chian Mui (Soh), a Singaporean who has vast experience in the Montessori arena, was invited to Thailand to fine-tune the teaching skills of the school's local instructional staff. During an informal speech to parents, members of the community and well-wishers, Ms Soh presented a three-hour presentation on the "Montessori Approach for Children's Multiple Intelligences". Ms Soh comes highly recommended and her remarks were thoroughly enlightening and entertaining. One can readily see how youngsters would love her and her persona, full of laughter, quick with just the appropriate response and always on the move, even in a medium-sized room full of people and furniture.

She claims it is the Montessori method - to allow pupils the freedom of total movement at all times. She naturally practices what she preaches.

The owner and managing director of the school, Ms Serene Jiratanan, is not an educator or trained in the Montessori method, but having graduated from prestigious ivy league schools in America, she recognises a good teaching/learning method when she sees one. She was so inspired by the Montessori method that she says, "I founded the first and only AMS (American Montessori Society) affiliated Montessori school in Thailand," and "we are probably the only authentic Montessori school in Bangkok offering the complete curriculum including practical life, sensorial, language, deep maths, science, geography, etc., as part of the [core programme]."

The school has a two-staged curriculum. The Toddler Programme is for the younger children, up to age three and offers, in addition to those mentioned above, music and movement and cultural education. The Casa Programme extends the concepts taught in the Toddler Programme and encourages children to work more on their own, but also to assist younger pupils. At this stage, they practice naming the many parts of various objects by using the proper names, such as every part of eyeglasses or a bicycle. They even give the proper names of flowers, not just "red flower" or "yellow flower" but, for example, bougainvillea or chrysanthemum. Sounds like a lot of fun to me, but I guess I'm a little to old to join.

A typical classroom with Montessori-certified sensorial objects for children to use and to play with.

Serene Jiratanan, owner

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