• Choosing the right ‘big’ school for my child

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    JOCELYN LAUREL

    Since the implementation of the K to 12 program by the Department of Education and the subsequent passing of Republic Act No. 10157, also known as the of Kindergarten Education Act, it has become mandatory for all children, in both public and private sectors to attend kindergarten by the age of five. Thus, it is safe to say that kindergarten has become the new “first grade” and teachers and parents alike expect their student and children to start “big school” with basic skills and knowledge.

    Since application for the entrance into most big schools begin in August, preschools should provide an orientation for parents, so that they may be properly guided in choosing the most suitable big school for their children based on basic readiness skills required in kindergarten and different educational approaches currently offered within Metro Manila.

    Below is a comprehensive list of educational approaches that are practiced in big schools here in the metropolis:

    Traditional    
    Traditional education, also known as back-to-basics, conventional education or customary education, refers to long-established customs that society has traditionally used in schools.

    Traditional teaching is concerned with the teacher being the controller of the learning environment. Additionally, the teacher holds power and responsibility and they play the role of instructor (in the form of lectures) and decision maker (in regards to curriculum content and specific outcomes).

    They regard students as having ‘knowledge holes’ that need to be filled with information. In short, the traditional teacher views that it is the teacher that causes learning to occur (Novak, 1998).

    Learning is chiefly associated within the classroom and is often competitive. The lesson’s content and delivery are considered to be the most important and students master knowledge through drill and practice.

    Characteristics of this approach are:

    – Teacher-centered

    – Subject- oriented: Emphasis on the 2 R’s : Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic

    – Memorization, rote and drills are often used to promote work habits and increase attention span

    – Focus is on intellectual learning, and students have to succeed on standardized tests. Concepts presented as facts to remember

    – An attitude of passivity may develop among the students, but good work habits may also result

    – Discipline: teacher enforces strict disciplinary measures; silence is strictly observed and maintained in the classrooms and is considered conducive to learning

    – Children have to adapt to the pace of the classroom, otherwise they might fall behind.

    – Generally 25 to 40 students in a class

    Some examples of traditional schools: Assumption, Ateneo de Manila, Immaculate Concepcion, La Salle, Miriam and Xavier

    Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. A good school should work in union with your child’s personality, strengths and interests

    Progressive
    The Progressive approach is characterized by an extrinsic motivation to stimulate and recognize a child.

    General characteristics of this approach are:

    – Child-centered

    – Emphasis is on socio-emotional and mental development of the student

    – Varied learning experiences are provided to suit interests and needs of each student

    – Emphasis is on group method of study among children and teacher/s.

    – Child is guided to work at his or her own pace

    – Self-discipline is encouraged among students (more preventive than remedial)

    – Usually small class ratio

    – Emphasis on learning by doing—hands-on projects, experiential learning

    – Integrated curriculum focused on thematic units

    – Strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking

    – Group work and development of social skills

    – Understanding and action as the goals of learning as opposed to rote knowledge

    – De-emphasis on textbooks in favor of varied learning resources

    – Emphasis on lifelong learning and social skills

    Some examples of progressive schools are: Beacon Int’l School, Canadian America School, Brent International, International School Manila, The Learning Child School, RAYA School and The Learning Tree Child Growth Center

    Numerous progressive approaches have been developed over the years, and although these are all child-centered, their emphasis and focus in educating the child may differ from one another.

    Below are just four progressive approaches that are currently being adopted by schools here in the Philippines.

    A. Montessori
    – The Montessori system uses an open approach and children are allowed to be creative and to express themselves in all aspects of their education.

    – Individual attention is given to children based on their nature. Teachers have to adapt their style of instruction to suit the children.

    – Teachers have a very limited role and their main job is to observe and supervise the children. Teachers do not necessarily instruct children as to what is right and wrong and children are encouraged to identify different possibilities on their own.

    – Learning through experiments and guidance is the key feature in a Montessori setup.

    – This approach stresses the importance of adapting the child’s learning environment to his or her developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing abstract concepts and practical skills.

    – Children who enjoy independence or have a strong desire to “do it themselves” are usually a good fit in a Montessori system.

    Some examples of schools following the Montessori system: Abbas Orchard, Laren School, An Alternative School, Maria Montessori Children’s, Inc. and Maria Montessori Foundation

    B. Bank Street
    – This approach is also known as the Developmental-Interaction approach. This means “meeting” children on their own terms, because development unfolds at different times and ages for different children.

    – Curriculum is based on the idea that if children can learn about and study the human world, they can make sense of what they encounter.

    – Children usually play with toys and materials that leave a lot to their imagination — blocks, water, art materials, clay, puzzles, and so on.

    – Children are encouraged to choose what they want to play with and work by themselves and in groups. This helps them learn in their own way, at their own pace.

    – The Bank Street program is a less structured one, leaving a lot of discretion to individual teachers and children to decide what to work on and when.

    Some schools that use the Bank Street inspired approach are: Explorations Preschool and Keys Grade School in Mandaluyong City and Summit School BGC.

    C. Waldorf (Steiner Education)
    – This approach, developed by Austrian philosopher and social thinker Rudolf Steiner, aims to provide a curriculum that nurtures a child’s mind, body and spirit-nature, all in a stress-free environment.

    – Waldorf schools approach learning in early childhood through imitation and example. Waldorf pedagogues are considered to be supportive of the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of the child through assimilative learning.

    – There is no early, forced intellectualization.

    – It offers a home-like environment where children are given plenty of opportunities to freely imitate what they see and to indulge in creative play. Daily activities range from painting, coloring, singing, and reciting poems to modeling with beeswax, baking bread, building houses out of boxes, sheets, and boards, etc.

    The right approach to education will depend on your child’s learning style and personality

    – Waldorf kindergartens and lower grades discourage exposure to media influences such as television, computers, or recorded music, as they believe these to be harmful to cognitive development in the early years.

    – Steiner Education aims to balance three aspects in the developing child with an age-appropriate pedagogy that educates (1) the hands (purposeful willing/doing: Willing Stage), (2) the heart (engaged, balanced feeling: Feeling Stage), and (3) the head (creative thinking: Thinking Stage), leading to the development of the whole human being.

    – This may be a good fit for children who like to work in large groups, or children who benefit from rhythmic repetition.

    – Same-age classes—students are grouped according to age

    Some examples of schools following the Waldorf system: Manila Waldorf School in Rizal, Kolisko Waldorf School in Quezon City, Acacia Waldorf School in Laguna, Sofia Waldorf School in Baguio, Gamot Cogon Institute in Iloilo, and Karawatan Waldorf School in Palawan

    D. The Reggio Emilia Approach
    – The Reggio Emilia approach is known for its belief that children have “a hundred languages.” This refers to the various ways that children communicate their thoughts and ideas. Some of these languages are building, modeling, painting, inventing, drawing, discussing, sculpturing, playing pretend, playing instruments, making music, and many more. Play is part of learning with this approach, and emphasis is placed on hands-on learning.

    – Child-centered and uses the principle that children learn through interaction with their environment and the people around them. Hence, children are encouraged to communicate and the space around them is designed to encourage collaboration, exploration, and communication.

    – Project approach—children often take on projects that come from their own interests or ideas and that make use of various materials and media.

    Schools in the Philippines that have a Reggio Emilia inspired approach are: Glebe House Manila in Makati City, Reggio Children Preschool House in Rizal, and Brentwood Reggio Kids International School in Naga City.

    Individualized instruction
    Individualized learning, or individualized instruction, is a method of teaching in which content, instructional technology, and pace of learning are based upon the abilities and interest of each learner.

    – Pace of learning is based on the abilities and interests of each individual learner

    – Presumes that the children have greater self-discipline to be able to study more independently

    – There is one-to-one teaching and self-paced learning based on an outline of progressive goals leading to the course or curriculum objectives

    – Students are taught to study effectively and individually through supervised study sessions

    – Individualized instruction allows a student who is above or below “average” to proceed at his/her own pace for optimal learning

    – Includes extensive teacher interaction with individuals, requiring class to be small in size; additional preparation time for teachers is also needed

    Schools that follow a similar approach to the Individualized Instruction system are: Angelicum College (Modular System, non-graded) and Wordlab (Multi-sensory Approach).

    Multiple intelligence
    – It provides teachers with eight potential pathways (8 intelligences) to learning so that all students can experience success: (1)Verbal/linguistic (2) Logical/mathematical (3) Visual/spatial (4) Musical/rhythmic (5) Bodily/kinesthetic (6) Interpersonal Intelligence (7) Intrapersonal Intelligence and (8) Naturalist

    – The theory of multiple intelligences provides several other methods in which the material may be presented to facilitate a positive learning outcome

    – It presumes that the teacher creates a learning profile for each student, since instruction is geared to the student’s strengths.

    – Each individual has a different intelligence profile.

    – Education can be improved by assessment of students’ intelligence profiles and designing activities accordingly.

    There is no single approach that is right for all children. The right approach to education and learning will depend on your child’s learning style and personality. For a lot of children, it might even mean a mix of different approaches, depending on the skills that the child needs to learn.

    Therefore, for a parent to find the right big school for his/her child, it is so important to do an initial background check on different schools. A lot of information about the school may be posted in their website, but, sadly, some school fall short of its beliefs.

    As such, take time to visit different schools and after each visit, ask yourself these questions: “Is the school true to its philosophy?” “Does the school have a happy and welcoming environment – (you’ll know this as soon as you walk in the door!)?” “Are the teachers nurturing and qualified?” “Will the school cater for my child’s needs and interests?” Finally, the most important question: “Will my child be happy here?”

    Sources: www.smartparenting.com.ph/parenting/preschooler/which-progressive-preschool-approach-is-right-for-your-child; www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/customized-instruction-four-characteristics-of-effective-instructional-explanations; raheenwood.org/what-is-steiner-education/

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