Some said perseverance is natural born and some said it is an acquired skill. My take on this topic is, perseverance is an acquired skill, it is a skill that can be learned and mastered to overcome self limiting factors to achieve a goal. It can and should be taught, just like any other life skills or competencies. Whether it is a natural talent or acquired skill, it needs practice over and over again through different environment and activities, until the child can relate, apply and master this skill to live up to his potential.
Few months ago, we organised a field trip to FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia) for our 3-11 years old students. As you can imagine, the children were all excited and geared up for this trekking. Younger children were more excited about how prepared they were for the trip and busy showing off things like hat, backpack, water tumbler, snacks and insect repellent. Older children on the other side mainly discussed and encouraged each other to be mentally ready to deal with the notorious blood sucking leeches.
“Look children, this hiking is going to take a minimum of 2 to 3 hours, or even longer. It will not be an easy trek, let’s see how it goes and we can always adjust the plan,” said Mr. Ranger. However, I knew deep in my heart that our children would be able to complete the journey and make their way to the Canopy Walkway. I had faith in them and so did other teachers.
We started the hike after a short visit to the FRIM Gallery. It was an eye-opening experience for the children, Mother Nature wowed the children with the beauty of tall trees, sounds of small animals and insects, fresh air and sunlight that shines through the thick forest to the forest floor. Cicadas played the background music as our children walked slowly, they sang in synchrony, pulsing from soft to loud and then back to soft, helping our children to get used to the novelty. 20 minutes later, children progressed their walking pace to how they normally walk and they started to ask many questions about what they saw and heard in the forest.
“It is very nice to stand under the big trees because the sound that make by the trees is very soothing, I like it very much!” ~ Lee Shi Hua 8 years old ~
The forest is like a live encyclopaedia. Children surely kept Mr. Ranger busy with a lot of questions, like…
- How long and how big can the liana grow?
- Which is the tallest tree?
- Where are the leeches?
- What is the chattering sound?
- Is there any wild animals or predators?
- How far are we away from the Canapy Walkway?
- Why is this tree so hard and what is the name?
- Why the tree never overlap with each other?
… and many more.
After 2 hours of trekking, the questions faded as the run rise above their heads and the heat took tolls in the rainforest. Children started to complain about the heat and physical exhaustion, but when I asked them if they were giving up, they shouted “NO!”. I guess the teamwork spirit, parents and teachers guidance and encouragement played a big part to keep them emotionally engaged and charged up to continue the journey. My heart felt so warm when I saw the Primary students complete the trekking with their strong will, independence and perseverance. Not only that they self-motivate, they also showed teamwork spirit to encourage their peers and juniors not to give up on the tough trail.
Finally we arrived at the base of the Canopy Walkway, everyone cheered hooray! Wait a minute, a child spotted the signboard stating “another 500 meters to go”.
- “How far is 500 meters?” asked the child.
- “Not very far”, said Mr Ranger.
- “How long is 500 meters?”, asked the child again.
- “1 meter is equivalent to the longest red rod in our classroom, so how many 1 meter red rod to make up to 500 meters?”, said teacher.
- “500 red rods!”, said a Primary student.
- “Wow… it’s going to be very long walk!” said the child.
“Children, the hardest trek is just ahead of us, we need to trek to two very steep slopes and it will take us another 40 minutes to 1 hour to reach the peak”, said Mr Ranger.
Without much hesitation, the Primary students followed Mr Ranger and marched towards the first slope. Some children had to “walk on four” as some of the slope’s surface is higher than them, but no one stopped although everyone was panting heavily. The first resting bench came into sight so we all finally had the chance to rest and catch up with our breath. Children sat closely with each other and took turns to sit for a quick energy recharge.
Mr Ranger urged us to keep moving to conquer the second slope, and it is even tougher than the first slope. Everyone was physically drained, but mentally very excited because we knew we were not too far away from the destination. It took us 30 minutes to reach the Canopy Walkway. Once we arrived, children were so excited that they forgot all the physical pain and started to take on the new challenge – beat the fear of heights and walk on a 30 meters high, 150 meter long canopy.
Through this experience, I observed and learned the power of PERSEVERANCE. The saying of “There’s a will, there’s a way” is true, children can learn and master the skill to overcome self limiting factors to achieve a goal. As for parents and teachers, we should create suitable opportunities for children to develop this skill, so that they can strive for excellence in the future.
Now, back to our Montessori classroom, how is this education approach helping your child to develop perseverance. You may wonder why do your child keep performing the same “work” over and over again. The rationale of repeated learnings through Montessori work is to help your child to master a task independently. Through the repeated work, your child will learn and understand that success doesn’t happen overnight, success is the outcome of consistent effort.
“The value of movement goes deeper that just helping in the acquisition of knowledge. It is in fact the basis for the development of personality. The child, who is constructing himself, must always be moving.” (Her Life and Work-page 230)
Written beautifully by Samantha Ong
In the recent 3rd Montessori Forum held in SEGI University, Malaysia, Lee Shi Hua was invited to share her Montessori experience in Tadika Sri Puncak and Green Meadows Montessori.
We also had the opportunity to know Matt Bronsil (USA), Jan Gaffney (New Zealand), Darin M. Bicknell (Canada), Maria Gayla Escanillas (Philippines), Henderina Corry and her 14 years old daughter Angie from Indonesia as well as the President of Montessori Association of Malaysia, Aisha Z Abdullah.
Green Meadows Montessori collaborated with two other Montessori schools to showcase three Malaysian traditional dances to the audience.
I recently attended an talk on “Understanding Art Therapy” given by Dr. Liu Wei-Ping, she is a subject matter expert in Special Education. In this sharing session, we were taught the basics of interpreting children’s intelligence level through drawing, the shared content is only applicable to children below the age of 10.
Her methodology is quite straight forward – Children will be asked to draw a male figure, either a boy or a man, it has to be a non-fictional character. Upon completion, the drawing will be analysed, specific body parts of the character to be marked and scored with reference to a chart. The final IQ score is a product of total score identified from the drawing matched with the subject’s age and readings on an intelligence chart.
The outcome of this exercise is an indicator of a child’s intelligence area of improvement. My colleagues and I did this similar exercise with children from other classes, selected drawings were used in the discussion with Dr. Liu.
This sharing session with Dr. Liu was very beneficial. My colleagues and I gained a better understanding on how to apply different techniques to help children with learning difficulties to overcome their learning barriers, and to help them to build better self confidence.
Other than discussing some speech delay case studies, we also had a conversation on potty training.
An interesting part of the discussion we had with Dr. Liu that I’d like to share here is that, through my teaching experience, I’ve met many parents with “potty-not-trained” toddler (I’m referring to toddlers that should have been potty-trained), have a mindset of “let my child find his own pace” but not understanding why they should apply early intervention to potty-train their children.
Yes, it is true that the child will be potty-trained one day. Parents, are you aware of the psychological impact of delayed skill attainment? Did you know when a child has greater self-awarenesss, he more likely to develop psychological barriers to learn a new knowledge/skill when most of his peers can do something easily but he struggles to?
I once met a boy with speech delay, he was always angry as he was unable to convey his messages. His parents accepted the fact that this boy needed early intervention so sent him for speech therapy sessions. He took two years to improve his condition and learn the techniques of effective communication. He is now able to communicate effectively, so he is now a happy and confident boy.
When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window. Be courageous to accept and face the reality, there are so many success stories encouraging us to apply early intervention to support children with learning difficulties. Together we will make a difference to the life of the child!
Written by Jess Liew
大家在一张A4白纸上画出一位小男孩或是男人，必须是写实的而不是漫画或卡通的，再从每一部分，由头发，眼睛一直到脚趾，各部位按照图表指示打分。分数加起来，得了一个raw score. 再从另一个图表找出智商分。这还得和年龄分除，才得到最后的 IQ score.
这回从讲师在课室的观察和分享，真的受益良多。 尤其如何协助学习迟缓的孩子，讨论哪一些良策更有效的帮助。 此外我们也谈到孩子语言障碍。 孩子的如厕练习……等。
很多时候，家长认为”迟一点再看看”, 或 “他还小。”……等态度， 无法了解小孩可以越早改善，越有効的重要。 是的，也许迟一些，等孩子再长大一点，可能被改善，但孩子会因为年龄和心智的成长，而渐渐的对自我的意识更高， 而无法承受和同龄的偏差。 这可能造成心理障碍而影响学习。
我曾看到一位语言障碍的小孩的进步，当父母接受事实之后，勇敢地踏出第一步而改变。 当初这孩子因为无法与同侪沟通而变得脾气暴躁。 大约两年后， 改善了这个问题， 小孩因接受语言治疔而个性改得柔和许多， 也更有自信。 这只是其中一个例子。 在改进的过程中，需要一些时间和耐性。所以找到根源，越早治疗越好!
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What do children learn from cooking? Why is Practical Life such an important element in Montessori education?
Why do rice turns soft when it’s cooked? Why muffins rise? Come and think about it – cooking is a life science lesson, and you don’t actually have to teach them, the activity does it for you.
Bringing food from kitchen to table gives children an opportunity to feel grown-up, an indirect way to build and develop their logical thinking, sense of order, patience, coordination, motor skills.
To bake muffins, children first need to understand the recipe. To do that, they read, spell and connect words like “egg” on the recipe to looking for a real “egg”. The concepts of measurement and volume is made simple when they hold physical measuring tools like water jug, cup, spoon and scales. And show them how different amount of substances (flour, sugar, butter, water) will look different, but still weigh the same.
Achieving small successes is a great way to boost a child’s self esteem. Cooking is a fun and educational activity to improve children’s confidence as the results are quick – it helps them to learn how to achieve a goal with many sequential small tasks.
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