Platform Montessori Programs
As part of my work with Ruchika Social Services Organization, I developed a Montessori-based curriculum for children in the slums of Orissa. The classes were held in the makeshift classrooms on the railway platforms of Orissa.
My exposure to Montessori through my mother, who is a kindergarten teacher, introduced me to the constructivist models that encourage child development through freedom of movement and choice, with mixed aged classrooms. This approach was highly applicable to the unstructured lifestyles of children in the slums of Orissa, given that they have freedom of movement within their neighborhoods.
We were able to create an environment to engage the children in constructive learning experiences by using the free-form structure and mixed-age classrooms, which were mandated due to a lack of resources such as a structured classroom, as an advantage to accelerate learning. The kids that went through our program consistently outperformed their peers who went to traditional (and more expensive) early childhood programs on both maths and language skills.
We have found that over 80% of the students enrolled in our early childhood programs enrolls in mainstream schooling, as opposed to 40% from the same social group.
By allowing children to direct themselves during class, we encouraged independence and curiosity with the support and framework of Montessori-based activities and teacher guidance when requested.
Developing Language and Counting Skills
Using Montessori frameworks for tracking development and leveling up activities, the focus on eventually enrolling the children in mainstream education led us to emphasize language and counting skills.
Tactile and Experiential Work
By exposing the children to tactile and experiential learning through activities and toys, we ensure that they develop their motor skills as well as their ability to work with their hands. By developing work stations that focused on project-based learning at an early age through simple activities, we encouraged creativity and building in the kids at a young age.