Walking up to the iconic red and white schoolhouse of The children’s house in Bangsar is like being transported off to one of the palm fringed white sandy beaches of a tropical paradise. Its landscaped gardens with its paved walk paths, water play feature, strategically placed play sets and even a mini treehouse, offers a slow-paced, relaxed atmosphere, much the antithesis of the more vibrant and livelier heartbeat of Bangsar Village, only a short couple of steps away.
We were met by the principal, Madam Sheena Sharmini Theesan. Madam Sheena exudes both charm and confidence. Walking up the pathway leading to the front door of the schoolhouse, she greets us with a simple “Good morning” and the ice is broken and we are immediately put at ease.
Behind the big red double doors of The children’s house lie a treasure trove of teaching and learning resources. The children’s house provides what Montessorians term a ‘prepared environment’. In this scenario, every area is purposefully designed and fully equipped with complementary Montessori materials to cater to the needs of each individual child, be it physical, social, emotional, intellectual or creative. Under these conditions, everything the child comes in contact with will facilitate and maximize independent learning and exploration.
‘Uninterrupted work periods’ are a norm of classroom life. During these periods, children become absorbed in their work because they have the freedom to choose activities that interest them and are relevant to their individual stage of development. They become engrossed in their work without seeming to need the teachers. The teachers observe and note the children’s progress and development. Teachers termed as ‘Directress’ are only involved when presenting materials in its proper work cycle and gently redirecting children who are not adhering to the work cycle.
Another facet of the learning experience at The children’s house is ‘Circle Time’. This is a time for the classroom to come together and to greet one another, to sing songs, to recite poems or participate in a “Topic of the Day” session and bond in general.
In its entirety, the programme at The children’s house nurtures self-esteem, a sense of belonging and community, independence, social awareness and an inner discipline which will carry the children through their later stages in life. Thus reinforcing the maxim that the Montessori programme truly prepares a child for life.
Time seemed to stand still as Madam Sheena explained the above curriculum to us. She was so learned, passionate and articulate that when we paused for a breather, approximately an hour and a half had already flown by.
Looking around, we notice that laminated flooring material is used for the floors throughout. Madam Sheena adds, “This material not only insulates but also cushions the flooring, making it more comfortable for the children to walk and play on.” Security cameras are installed in every area of the schoolhouse. There are cubby holes for children’s belongings and shoe bags for them to put their shoes in. As we toured The children’s house, with its predominant colour scheme of red and white, even with the children’s handicrafts, artwork, charts and posters everywhere, we sensed a prevailing calm and orderliness about the place. The phrase “A place for everything and everything in its place” comes to mind.
Madam Sheena is especially excited when the conversation turned to food for the children. “As part of the total quality experience that we provide the children here, their meals are specially prepared by an in-house cook adhering to a weekly menu designed by a culinary institute along with calorie count from USDA, Centre for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, in accordance to a normal serving for a child,” gushes Madam Sheena.
Her youthful exuberance belies her almost thirteen years of experience as a Montessorian. Just like Madam Sheena, her team of teachers are not only trained in the Montessori methods and Early Childhood Education, they are also equipped with knowledge on first aid.
As the interview ends and we take our leave amongst the lush greenery surrounding The children’s house, their tagline comes to mind……….
“Embracing Diversity, Nurturing Inclusivity”
Find out more about The children's house, Bangsar