The CEO of Addlo Montessori School, in an exclusive interview with AllaboutschoolsNG, speaks on the Review Of Academic Benefits Of Montessori Education VS Conventional Schools
Question: What has been the positive aspect of the unconventional classroom experience?
There are so many positive results that we have gained from running our classrooms the Montessori way. We have age mixed tape groups which is something that a lot of people disagree with, even educators think that it won’t work, that this is Nigeria, but for crying out loud there’s no difference between Nigeria and any other country. If you say you can, you can and if you say you can’t, you can’t. So I believe that we can and so we have shown that it is possible and it works beautifully well.
Question: What educational benefits would a child get attending Addlo Montessori School that is different from Conventional Schools?
Taking into consideration how children learn at an early age between 0-6 years, we know it needs to be activity-based. For the 6-12 years, we know that they like big work and they also like to work together in teams, so we have a lot of projects that the children get involved in and we introduce them to the universe so that they have a wide and broad knowledge of life; how life started, what life is all about, the geography and the history of their country. All these are embedded in what we teach them.
We have some of our young children in primary one and three that are working on a short story and we are at the point of editing and getting an illustrator to help with the drawing, but these are things that our children practice in order to understand and become part of the society. Understanding how society works and entrepreneurial skills are also things that we teach at their level.
These are things the children will not get from conventional schools, like the level of confidence and their ability to communicate correctly. It comes from actually giving them the right to communicate, they have the right to talk and the more they practice, the better they become.
Question: As a school that runs a fully loaded Montessori program for children, does your school have any extracurricular activities, like after school programs, sports, and clubs?
Yes, the school runs a fully loaded Montessori program and within that program, all the different extracurricular activities that we need are actually run during that time in school because this is what Montessori is, they don’t need any extracurricular programs that are run after school.
We don’t run lessons unless it’s absolutely important that a child needs those lessons and even when we do, it’s just for a short space of time until the child gets what it is that we need to work on. We don’t just run lessons for running sake, let the children go home, let them relax; let them reflect on what it is that they have learnt, that doesn’t mean that we don’t do extracurricular activities, so to speak.
Our children swim, they play chess; we have different languages that the children are working on. There are so many different things that we are doing but it’s all run within the school time.
We do music as well, there was a time when we had a Chinese family in the estate and their child was in the school we got the family to teach us Mandarin. So, we incorporate what is available but it’s all done during school time and our children don’t take external exams and fail.
Question: How has your school impacted its immediate environment?
Basically, the first thing is providing a high level of education for our community, people say, oh why don’t you go and start this school in Lekki, Surulere, Gbagada or Ikeja, you will make a lot of money there. But our main goal is to make sure that even within the community of Abuleegba and Agege that we provide a high-grade Montessori education experience for our community, they have the right to that as well.
Apart from that, we encourage the children to give, we have visited the homeless facilities around us. We also keep our surroundings clean. There are other things we are working on as we have moved into our new site now, we are going to have the children start planting and we are going to look at different ways to encourage them to plant even if they do not have land.
We are working on recycling, so we have different little projects that we are working on to help the children impact their immediate environment.
Question: EduRead is a competition that teaches children how to read properly, has this approach help in developing other social skills?
EduRead is a competition that accesses the children’s reading skills and helps them to see how they are doing. For example, with our 3-6 years old, you find out that some schools would teach children the sounds and then from the sounds the children will, first of all, say the sound then try and blend it together; the problem with children reading like this is sometimes you don’t understand what they are saying but most importantly, they themselves cannot remember what it is that they are reading, so when children come together and they are given an age appropriate script to read and they can hear other children read properly then, they are like “ok, I need to get this right, I’m still chopping up my sounds, it’s taking a while for me to get the sense of what it is I am reading”.
EduRead helps the children in that sense and it’s not just them being able to read what we access is their understanding of the words.
Question: How have the Montessori family project help parents and prospective parents in search of ways to ensure that they lay the right foundation for their children in your care?
Montessori family project is actually a very wide one, it is part of how we contribute to the community and the nation. We have people all over Nigeria who are have keyed into our Montessori family project and basically, it’s to help families understand what they need to be doing and what is best for their children, what the best practices are and what are the parenting skills that parents actually need in order to be able to help their children be the very best that they want to be. So we are teaching Montessori skills helping parents to learn specifically how to discipline their children without breaking their will because when you have a child with a broken will, you have already done big damage that may not be repaired.
We are working with both families on this issue, so it’s not just the parents or prospective parents but as people key in, we do a lot of this online mainly because it’s the best way to reach more people. Montessori Family Project is not just about our immediate parents or prospective parents.
On the other hand, we have the Montessori at Home Series that we do and we also have Parents-Teachers Forum where we talk to our parents specifically about things to do with the children, how to help the children, on what we noticed.