We know that the traditional, classroom-based scene, with every child quietly seated and listening intently to the teacher in front, is at best an ideal. Kids want to run outside (instead of getting bored), are eager to see what happens when they play with things (and that’s the best time to tell them about the behind-the-scenes science), and they have an endless need to explore (and remember what happened, and learn from it).
Montessori de San Juan has been championing this immersive learning approach since 1975 – their recent partnership with Engineering for Kids (Philippine franchise), the first science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) after-school program in the country, offers a summer program that encourages creativity, innovation. STEM teaches students to search for new knowledge and to find ways to apply them in real life. STEM, as does the Montessori method, teaches kids how to think, an ability that is worth more than rote remembrance of theories.
SMILE (Specializing on Modern Interactive Learning Experiences) is a privately owned company that has franchised Engineering for Kids and Challenge Island in the Philippines. SMILE and the 40-year old Montessori de San Juan are both STEM advocates.
Left to right: Sandy Arellano (Assistant Principal at Montessori de San Juan) and Luna Marie Garcia (Engineering for Kids).
STEM could not have come at a better time. More parents are noticing that the age of strict rules, a steady stream of homework, and rote memorization – the rigid structure of traditional, standardized education – is coming to an end. Institutions are breaking free of this model and creating learning sessions. According to Sandy Arellano, Assistant Principal at Montessori de San Juan, “There are different kinds of learners. We have the visual, tactile, and auditory. Regular classrooms have many students, but it’s easier to spot what kind of learner a student is when you only have a few students.” Each class at Montessori de San Juan only has 12-15 students per class, with only one section per level.
This small population works to the students’ advantage. In addition to the natural camaraderie fostered by a small school, everyone also gets the chance to excel, to express themselves, and to get a hands-on experience of the special experiential learning that MSJ offers. “It’s important that our kids understand the practical applications of what we teach them,” Arellano said.
It is then only fitting that Engineering for Kids (EFK), an after-school STEM learning session that emphasizes experiential learning, be offered at Montessori de San Juan. EFK was originally from the US and comprises 10 engineering programs – Marin Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electronic Game Design, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial Engineering. Each program has 2 levels of classes – Junior Engineers for kids 4-6 years old, and Apprentice/Master Engineers for kids 7-14 years old. In each program, it is explained how things work through different kinds of fun and real-life situations allowing students to be more imaginative while developing their problem-solving skills.
The program offering will start in June 2015 and will be held at Montessori de San Juan, located at #3 Montessori Lane St., San Juan. To find out more about their education system, call 239-1102/725-6306, or visit their Facebook page.
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See also: The Montessori Story