Baliga is a parent at ILM Montessori. She also volunteers as a Teacher at our school where she teaches Physics and other STEM subjects to our Elementary students.
I requested Baliga to write a blog post on her teaching experience at ILM. Her response gave us all a wonderful surprise. I’m sharing it below…
I have tried to do a draft of the blog post you had suggested.
I wound up having to write another piece first about our experiences at ILM, and get it out of my system, before diving into the teaching one.”
What a lovely 3 years it has been.
We arrived at ILM a little more than 3 years ago. With a child who was diffident, shy with people and couldn’t begin to read. Little did I imagine the day would come when I would write this article with pride.
Our son had been going to a pre-school that claimed to do Montessori. But eventually succumbed to parent pressure and suddenly shifted to rote education in the quest of preparing their ‘scholars’ for LKG ‘entrance’ at the ‘Big Schools.’
Our 3-year old didn’t take too well to the two pages of daily homework, and teachers started getting grumpy. Things came to a head when he flat refused to go to school one morning. We took the ‘brave’ decision of saying ‘yes.’ This, in spite of the fact that we hadn’t found anything different for his older sister.
But it was meant to be. The same day, my co-sister sent, by chance, a list of Montessori schools that, well, practised what they claimed. After the required processes, Ananth joined ILM one fine day in June. Within a couple of days, he was waking up early to get to school as soon as the gates opened. There has been no turning back since. He is 7 now, reads all kinds of books with confidence, can do mental sums that I need a calculator for, and knows an extraordinary amount about birds and animals.
ILM founders and teachers are passionate about Montessori methods and principles. The children are presented language and math concepts in multitude of ways till they ‘get it.’ And, it’s okay if they don’t ‘get it’ this year, because they will next year.
Under the efforts of the pre-primary teachers (thank you, Sujatha, Sneha and Sunitha ma’ams), we saw our son blossom not just academically, but also into an individual who is willing to help others. He is confident and developing his own opinions, knows when to concede in a situation of conflict and is beginning to take care of his elder sister. He also just accepts without judgement, if another child is better at a topic than he, or not quite there. When his grandfather visited, he showed him everything in the school with pride. And, happily ignored his grandmother’s ‘where are the classrooms?’
Last year, he excitedly moved ‘upstairs’ in to the Lower Elementary and discovered the world. They started off with History and Science with the Big Bang and the story of evolution. Everything else just flowed along organically.
The school atmosphere of encouraging learning for learning’s sake and not for the competitive edge works wonders. If an ILM child is taught a bit extra, you will not hear him/her say ‘oh that’s not there in the textbook, so I don’t need to know it.’ We don’t have textbooks. The school library is devoured by the children. They do nature walks, grow plants, use every possible visualisation of mathematical concepts, and ask more questions than we can answer. You learn about a fish by visiting the aquarium and observing the teacher cut open one to show you the parts. The annual days are other mad learning avenues where they take up a difficult concept and try to enact it. It’s a brilliant way to remember scientific and historic names.
I had my moment of peace with my ‘brave’ decision recently when he and I were driving along, and he asked me what I thought would happen to the human race. I plunged into my doomsday belief due to global warming and human greed but was left speechless when he came back and said he doesn’t believe that, and, that, the human race will evolve into the next adaptive species.
Thank you, ILM.
Thank you, Baliga!
We spend most of our waking hours thinking and worrying about ILM. And when we receive a note like yours, it delights us to no end.
Your words encourage each of us immensely. They spur us to explore further how we can fulfil our children’s needs of curiosity, learning and growth.