Learning the Montessori Way – All You Need to Know about Early Childhood Education

Last Updated:
2022-03-22

6 min read

montessori

Congratulations, new moms and dads! You have just reached your first milestone as a parent. Now fasten your seatbelt, sit back and relax — the journey ahead is going to be full of challenges and excitement, satisfaction and frustration.

 

Making decisions for your child’s first steps into education can be a real challenge, especially when you are faced with dozens of important questions like whether to enroll in daycare, playgroups and pre-nurseries, when and how to start early education, how to choose the best school for your child… and the list seems to be never-ending. 

 

In collaboration with Guidepost Montessori, we bring you this comprehensive guide to plan for your little one’s education to clear your head from all the myths around the topic.

 

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Early childhood education: Where to start?

Children develop the foundation of their personality, behavior, interests, skills and well-being before the age of 6. The experiences they have from birth to 6 years old are critical to their growth and the effect may last for a lifetime when their budding curiosity is nourished with the right nutrients, in the right soil. 

 

During this prime time for learning, children absorb new information like a sponge as they interact with the environment. From their daily observing, listening, smelling, tasting, touching, to experimenting and interacting with their surroundings, children are constructing their understanding of the world at all times. 

Age 0-6: Playgroup, pre-nursery and kindergarten

Playgroups and pre-nurseries are popular among parents in Hong Kong as early education programs before children reach kindergarten age (below 3 years old).

 

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Playgroup

Playgroups are designed for babies and toddlers aged from 6 months to 2 years old (requirements may vary among providers). Most playgroup sessions take around 90 minutes and they serve as interest groups for parents and children to come together for casual gatherings and fun learning activities. Playgroup classes lead you and your child through stimulating activities of your choice: language learning, sensorial exploration, arts and crafts, music, physical exercises, you name it — offering great opportunities for parent-child bonding. 

 

While your little one can make new friends at a playgroup, you can also benefit from building a social network with other parents with whom you can share the sweets and sours of your parenting experiences.

 

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Pre-nursery 

Pre-nursery programs are designed for children between 2-3 years old with more emphasis on their whole development from self-care, arts, language to motor skills. Pre-nursery is often organized by kindergartens and is mostly available as half-day (AM or PM) or extended-day programs. As its name suggests, pre-nursery prepares children for nursery level in kindergarten, where they will spend longer time with peers unaccompanied by parents.

 

Nevertheless, some kindergartens may give priority in admission to children who joined their pre-nursery programs.

 

Kindergarten 

Although kindergarten education is not compulsory, it is common for parents to enroll their children between 3-6 years old in a kindergarten as it equips them with essential life skills that can hardly be taught at home but are fundamental for elementary school education. Among other knowledge and skills, they will cultivate a sense of discipline and a spirit of teamwork when getting along with other children.

 

All kindergartens in Hong Kong are privately run by either non-profit-making or independent organizations and are under regulation by the Education Ordinance.

 

When to enroll?

Playgroup: Generally opens for enrollment all year round. Check with the provider for application details.

 

Pre-nursery: Your child has to be at least 2 years old at the time of enrollment to be eligible. Submit your documents during the application period (usually between August and December) the year prior to the start of the school year

 

Kindergarten: Your child has to be at least 2 years and 8 months old* as at September 1 next year to be eligible. Submit your documents during the application period (usually between August and December) the year prior to the start of the school year.

 

*Sometimes parents may prefer to delay the enrollment of their children born after September to the next school year.

 

When shopping around, get a better look of the curriculum and learning environment by attending admission talks and open days organized by the institutions. Also, stay tuned to announcements about the application period of your desired preschools so you don’t miss the important dates! 

 

Determining the education approach

Every child is born unique, there is no absolute right or wrong way to raise a child. It all comes down to what is the most suitable. Before answering this question, here are some key aspects you may want to give some thought to:

  • What is your child’s personality like? 

Understanding your child’s character, mode of learning and interests is the first step of formulating an education plan for them. Identify the motivations for your child and facilitate their learning by feeding the right fuels. Patience, prudence, concentration, empathy, self-discipline… Does the education method address your child’s strengths and weaknesses?

  • What is your education philosophy and style? 

Whether you want to go for traditional schools, international schools, or adopt alternative education methods like Montesorri and Reggio Emilia, begin your research early. Different education philosophies are driven by different educational goals, such as independence, leadership, academic achievements, creativity and logical reasoning.

  • How can you support your child’s learning at home? 

Learning doesn’t stop when children step out of the classroom. Don’t overlook the importance of education at home and try to foster a consistent learning atmosphere for your child. You may start by recognizing the principles behind your education style and adopting relevant practices in your everyday life.

Montessori education: A child-centered learning approach

 

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What is the Montessori method?

Developed by Italian physician and educator Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s, the Montessori method is an evidence-based education model widely applicable to all education settings. Montessori educators believe in children’s potential and cultivate their natural passion for learning, respecting every young mind to be capable of growing towards a capable, confident and independent individual.

 

A typical Montessori classroom integrates different sensorial experiences in a curated, safe environment. It is spacious, organized and pleasant for children to freely venture and make discoveries. Children are encouraged to learn at their own pace and in their own way, with guidance from a trained educator. 

 

Additionally, Montessori sheds light on the vital role of mistakes in a child’s growth as they recognize and correct their own mistakes. Starting with small errors like misplacing a piece in a purposefully designed activity, children will learn to improve themselves constantly in anticipation of bigger obstacles they encounter later in life.

 

In the preschool setting, the Montessori curriculum focuses on building language capacity, motor skills, social skills, along with independence in children — all these acquired qualities will prepare children to better adapt to changes and transitions.

 

How is Montessori education different from traditional schools?

Contrary to the teacher-led model often practiced in a traditional school setting, a Montessori classroom works with children taking the initiative in learning (children-centered), with a curriculum that involves minimal memorization, zero homework and no tests. 

 

Another special feature of the Montessori system is the multi-age grouping of children, instead of grouping children of the same age in one classroom. Children enjoy the freedom to move around the space and socialize.

 

Is Montessori suitable for my child?

The Montessori education approach is universal to children of all personalities, talents and cultural backgrounds, as it addresses the natural needs and tendencies to grow. It encourages children to explore their surroundings with their senses within a danger-free environment which allows great freedom for their movements. What makes Montessori exceptional is its emphasis on curiosity, creativity and independence, building life skills that would benefit children for a lifetime.

Guidepost Montessori Together playgroup: Foundation for a lifetime of connection 

Tailored for children from 6 to 24 months old, the Guidepost Montessori Together playgroup houses a supportive and relaxed environment for parents who seek unique bonding experiences with their children. A Montessori Together guide will generously share tips and insights to nurture an independent, confident child. The program sets the perfect stage for your child’s early endeavors to self-feed, crawl and walk.

 

What’s more? You can gain access to useful parenting resources and support from the welcoming Montessori Together Community! 

 

Highlights of the playgroup:

  • Dual language sessions in Mandarin and English to lay a strong foundation in executive functioning skills, as well as social and emotional capacity
  • A safe, prepared environment that encourages exploration and freedom of movement boosting confidence
  • Hands-on materials and purposefully designed sensory activities to support early cognitive brain development
  • Rich music and movement activity offered in small group setting
  • Numerous opportunities for children to explore, navigate, develop, reason and problem solve

The program is available at the Guidepost Montessori campuses in Chai Wan, Kennedy Town and Pok Fu Lam.

 

How to enroll?

Get in touch with Guidepost Montessori by filling in the contact form at https://inbound.guidepostmontessori.com/hong-kong-info. An Admissions specialist from Guidepost will shortly contact you to answer any questions around availability, waitlist, tuition fees, registration process, etc.

 

Next step, you will need to complete an online registration form with your information and preferred start date.

 

Every young mind is born with endless potential and certainly deserves the best of everything in the world. Embark on this self-discovery journey with your little one at Guidepost Montessori to realize their potential to the fullest. 

 

Got more questions? Save them for your consultation session and arrange a school tour!

 

Find them at…

Guidepost Montessori at Chai Wan
Address: Siu Sai Wan, Kindergarten, Harmony Garden, 9 Siu Sai Wan Rd, Chai Wan HK
Tel / Whatsapp: +852 2866 8260
Email: [email protected]

 

Guidepost Montessori at Kennedy Town
Address: 1-2 Floor 554-560 Queen’s Road West Sai Wan, Shek Tong Tsui HK
Tel / Whatsapp: +852 3619 1136
Email: [email protected]

 

Guidepost Montessori at Pok Fu Lam
Address: L101 Chi Fu Landmark, Chi Fu Fa Yuen, Pok Fu Lam, HK
Tel / Whatsapp: +852 2177 0001
Email: [email protected]

 


This article is brought to you in partnership with Guidepost Montessori. It is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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