by Themselves When Environment is Set
How does a child learn a sense of independence? Yoko Avramov, Director of the Montessori Language Academy in Forest Park, spoke about Montessori education in her school. The children are three to six years old and learn Japanese, English, math, arts, dance, music, manners, and more. The school opens at 7:30 a.m. and goes to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Japanese is used in the morning classes, and everything is done in English in the afternoon classes.
Avramov said that Montessori education nurtures children’s independence by setting an appropriate environment which leads them to learn things. For example, a sponge is placed beside a cup or water pitcher. When a child spills water, he or she can wipe the water with a sponge. If he spills more water, he can wipe it with a towel, which is always hung in a nearby area. After wiping the water, he can hang the towel after wringing it to dry. In this way, children can learn how to deal with spilled water.
At lunchtime, children use ceramic plates, so that they can naturally learn how to handle plates gently. When they finish lunch, they clear the garbage away and hand the plates to a person who washes dishes.
After lunch, each child picks a picture book and reads it while the other children are waiting for teacher Avramov. Their teacher reads only one book, so they choose one by majority. This time, they picked “Dango mushi (sow bug)”. While Avramov was reading it, the children joined the story by their actions.
When book reading ended, the children
stretched their bodies and were ready for an afternoon class. Each child
chose a learning material such as math, writing, or drawing and studied.
A classroom has a kitchen for the children.
It has a lemon juicer, an end-rounded knife, cups, faucets, sinks, and
more. Avramov said that the basic of Montessori was Controlled Environment,
which was limited by teachers’ discretion, and children acted freely in
the environment. She said that teachers always taught children how to
use scissors and a knife at the beginning, so they were able to squeeze
a lemon and make juice by themselves.
Recently, the school has 35 children.
One half of them are from married international couples, and other half
are from parents of Sansei (third generation of Japanese American), Japanese,
Americans, and other foreign origins.
The school has introduced Spanish classes and private piano lessons. It also offers Japanese classes for grade-school students, who had attended the school and want to continue Japanese language study.
Yoko Avramov graduated from Doshisha
University where she majored in English language and literature. She met
her husband Mr. Avramov in Kyoto and moved to the U.S. in 1992.
Time passes quickly. Her first students
became college freshman this fall and often visit her. One of them entered
Purdue University with a full scholarship.
Yoko Avramov obtained a Master’s Degree
at Concordia University in Early Childhood Education in 2004.
Montessori Language Academy
A class room in Montessori Language Academy in Forest Park
Yoko Avramov reads a picture book for the children, and they join the story by their actions.
The girls study with nihongo cards.
The boys study with number cards.