THE ISLAMIC MONTESSORI PHILOSOPHY

“Education depends upon a belief in the power of the child and on a certainty that the child has within himself the capacity to develop into a being that is far superior to us. He will not only be capable of a better way of living but will be the only person who can show us these”

 

Dr Maria Montessori  

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Environment

The Montessori environment is a “living room” for children so much so that it must be carefully designed to invite the child to learn. Attracted and curious, children choose their activities from low open shelves with self-correcting materials and work in distinct work areas on tables or on rugs on the floor, instead of staying at desks. There is no limit to how long a child can work with a piece of material.

Social Life

The social life of the children is a vital aspect of the Montessori classroom and curriculum. Children of different ages (3-6 years; 6-9 years; and 9-12 years) are grouped together. This provides abundant opportunities for learning and helps to create a sense of family while everyone contributes and takes responsibility for the functioning and maintenance of the environment. The older children provide leadership, guidance, and act as models for the younger children. By helping younger children, the older children reinforce their previous skills and knowledge and benefit from the satisfaction of helping others.

Brainy Bunch

Our prepared Islamic Montessori environment is arranged according to subject areas, and children are always free to move around the room and to continue to “work” on a piece of material at their own pace; out of their own interest; without a reward and punishment system; without an imposed competitive environment; with the guidance and assistance of a loving and observant teacher; with a communal responsibility to offer care and respect for others and for the environment, and ultimately, for their own selves.

BrainyMuslim Integration Plan

Brainy Bunch is poised to set a new standard and lead the path in an authentic Islamic Montessori curriculum. Apart from Islamising the existing Montessori curriculum, Islamic studies (Tawhid & Aqidah, Ibadah, Brainy Talaqi, Hafazan, Hadeeth, Adab & Akhlaq, Fiqh, Seerah, Tareekh, Arabic & Jawi) have been integrated into the whole curriculum so our little Muslims may understand the relevance of religion in their daily lives while feeling that it is really cool to be a bunch of brainy Muslims! Insha-Allah!

Dr Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician, founded Montessori education over a hundred years ago in 1907. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. The Montessori approach, which nurtures the natural instincts of a child in cultivating the child’s own desire to learn, harmoniously blends with the Islamic view of a child’s fitrah (authentic nature).

 

Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education. Dr Montessori discovered that the best learning is self-learning as she saw in each child a tremendous urge to learn and to develop independence. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities in the form of apparatuses. These apparatuses in turn are “self-correcting,” so that the child may concentrate without being constantly corrected by someone outside his work.

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SPECIFIC KEY PHILOSOPHIES

In Montessori education, “work” is a purposeful, self-chosen activity. Hence, the prepared environment is essential to the success of a Montessori classroom as children rely on a sense of order within the environment for them to learn and progress. Education is considered a natural process, spontaneously carried out by the individual child through experiences in the environment he is in. Thus, there must be just the right amount of educational materials and learning opportunities to allow the child to work. Since the child learns to gather information from many sources, instead of being handed it by the teacher, it is the role of the teacher to prepare and continue to adapt to the environment, to link the child to it through well-thought-out lessons, and to facilitate the child’s creativity and exploration.

PREPARED ENVIRONMENT

Another observation of Dr Montessori, which has been reinforced by modern research, is the importance of the sensitive periods for early learning. Montessori believes it is easier for the child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in his life. These are periods of intense interest and absorption level for learning a particular characteristic or skill, such as ascending and descending the stairs, putting things in order, counting, or reading. An authentic Montessori classroom takes advantage of this fact by allowing the child the freedom to select activities that correspond to their own periods of interest.

SENSITIVE PERIOD

  • The practical application of the Montessori approach is based on human tendencies, i.e. the natural inclination to 

Explore

Move

Create order

Share with group

Independent

Develop self-control

Make decisions

Abstract ideas from concrete experience

Concentrate

Perfect one's efforts

INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM WITHIN LIMITS

  • The structured Montessori classroom provides freedom within clear, defined boundaries. It gives children a great deal of flexibility to make their own choices about the kind of work to engage in, and whether to do it individually or collaboratively.

Repeat

Work hard

  • Montessori classrooms place children in three year age groups, 

3 – 6-year-olds

9 – 12-year-olds

6 – 9-year-olds

12 – 15-year-olds

15 – 18-year-olds

THREE-YEAR CYCLE/MULTI-AGE GROUPING

  • Children who are older and/or more skilled will become an inspiration and role model as they spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger children in the class.

  • The considerate, respectful and caring attitude developed from the earliest age is considered fundamental to the child’s eventual outcome as an adult functioning in the real world.

Children learn directly from the environment, and from other children, rather than from the teacher. The teacher is trained to teach one child at a time, with a few small groups and almost no lessons given to the whole class. Large groups occur only at the beginning of a new class, or at the beginning of the Montessori school year, and are phased out as the children gain independence. As a result, most of the learning activities are individualised. For example, a child engages in a learning task that particularly appeals to him because he finds the activities geared and suitable to his needs and level of readiness. Consequently, he works at his own rate, with minimal assistance from the teacher, repeating the task as often as he likes, thus experiencing a series of successful achievements.  In this manner, he builds a positive attitude toward learning itself. A trained Montessorian is, in fact, “superficial” in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child’s research and exploration. The key to a successful Montessori classroom is the teacher’s power of observation, i.e. in being able to capitalise on her children’s interests and excitement about a particular subject in order to nurture their truest potential. 

INDIVIDUALISED LEARNING

The process of normalisation is a significant and imperative journey, which begins when the children first enter the Montessori classroom and are introduced to the exercises of practical life (EPL). These materials help the child to develop their motor skills, acquire a sense of order, and begin the process of extending their ability and desire for concentrated work. Thus, normalisation refers to the state of focus, concentration, and independence of the children, by their own choice. It means they have acquired the internal freedom to initiate work, be independent, and adhere (by choice) to the rules of the environment. At BRAINY BUNCH, our well prepared Montessori environment facilitates the process of normalisation by observing an annual “Montessori Ground Rules” for the whole month of January at the start of each year. This allows all new/returning children to adjust and the whole system to “normalise” before any actual academic lessons can begin. To the uninformed parent, the delay of traditionally perceived academic learning may falsely indicate that their child’s progress is considerably slower than that of other widespread traditional methods. Yet, this foundational work is necessary to allow accelerated progress once the child is ready.

GROUND RULES & NORMALISATION PERIOD

CHARACTER EDUCATION

Opportunities for the teaching of the personality are considered at least as important as academic education. Children are given the opportunity to take care of themselves, each other, and the environment. Their responsibility as a member of the community includes their share of housekeeping, classroom management, graceful and courteous social gestures (e.G. Moving gracefully, speaking politely), and social work in the community (e.G. Watering plants and gardening, cooking, building, and etc.).

Each child’s progress is scientifically observed, studied and recorded by the teacher. These observations are made, for the most part, on the level of concentration of each child, the intellectual capacity observed through the introduction to and mastery of each piece of learning material, the social and emotional development, the child’s physical health and level of activity, the spiritual element, and so forth. In short, children learn from what they are studying individually, but also from the amazing variety of work that is going on around them during the day. Thus, learning is considered to happen every single second of the child’s exposure in a montessori environment. However, there are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment, whether subtle or overt. Assessment is by portfolio and the teacher’s observation and record keeping. The real test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behaviour or character (shakhsiah) of the children – their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning, concentration, and work. 

OBSERVATION & ASSESSMENT

In practice, in Montessori classrooms worldwide, the most successful 3 – 6 year classes are of 30-35 children to one teacher, with one non-teaching assistant. This provides a variety of personalities, learning styles, and work being done at one time. This class size is possible because the children learn from each other and stay with the same teacher for one to three years. Following this international practice, brainy bunch ratios its classrooms to a maximum of 15-16 children to one fully trained teacher. This size tremendously helps to create much more independence, encourages peer teaching and eliminates the possibility of too much teacher-centred and teacher-directed work. There is at least one 3-hour period of uninterrupted work time each day. Although the overall day is heavily structured, students are free to explore the concepts that appeal to them. Adults and children in the prepared environment respect concentration and do not interrupt someone who is busy with a task. Groups form spontaneously on predictable yet flexible rituals, routines and orders which have been proven scientifically to encourage the child’s genius.

CLASS SIZE & SCHEDULE

Strikingly different compared to the conventional teaching methodology we have today where the teacher stands in front of the class and teach each child the same lesson all at once, a brainy bunch of Montessorians takes on the supporting role of a loving mursyid (guide) who facilitates the child’s learning process. She is trained to recognise a child’s readiness according to age, ability, and interest for a specific lesson, and is prepared to guide individual progress. Although the teacher plans lessons for each child for each day, she will bend to the interests of a child following a passion. The steps of learning any concept are analysed by the adult and are systematically offered and demonstrated to the child. As such, a child is always learning something that is indirectly preparing him to learn something else as well, making education a joyful discovery instead of a chore. Dr Montessori called this way of teaching “preparing the child for success”.  The teacher is there to guide the child through small exercises in which the child will succeed. The child will contently “teach” himself, and is allowed to learn at his own rhythm in a way where he feels as though he is in fact not learning or being taught. Through time, the exercises rise in difficulty but because the progression is so well thought out, the child never feels as though learning is a struggle; hence, the love of lifelong learning.

MONTESSORI TEACHER'S ROLE

PREPARED ENVIRONMENT

  • In Montessori education, “work” is a purposeful, self-chosen activity.

  • The prepared environment is essential to the success of a Montessori classroom as children rely on a sense of order within the environment for them to learn and progress.

  • Education is considered a natural process, spontaneously carried out by the individual child through experiences in the environment he is in.

  • Since the child learns to gather information from many sources, instead of being handed it by the teacher, it is the role of the teacher to prepare and continue to adapt to the environment, to link the child to it through well-thought-out lessons, and to facilitate the child’s creativity and exploration.

SENSITIVE PERIOD

  • Another observation of Dr Montessori, which has been reinforced by modern research, is the importance of the sensitive periods for early learning.

  • Montessori believes it is easier for the child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in his life.

  • These are periods of intense interest and absorption level for learning a particular characteristic or skill, such as ascending and descending the stairs, putting things in order, counting, or reading.

  • An authentic Montessori classroom takes advantage of this fact by allowing the child the freedom to select activities that correspond to their own periods of interest.

INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM WITHIN LIMITS

  • The practical application of the Montessori approach is based on human tendencies, i.e. the natural inclination to 

Explore

Move

Share with group

Independent

Make decisions

Create order

Develop self-control

Abstract ideas from concrete experience

Work hard

Repeat

Concentrate

Perfect one's efforts

  • The structured Montessori classroom provides freedom within clear, defined boundaries. It gives children a great deal of flexibility to make their own choices about the kind of work to engage in, and whether to do it individually or collaboratively.

  • Montessori freedom is, therefore, initially structured freedom, but one that then allows the child to connect to the true freedom of self-knowledge, self-respect and self-worth.

THREE-YEAR CYCLE/MULTI-AGE GROUPING

  • Montessori classrooms place children in three year age groups, i.e.

3 – 6-year-olds

6 – 9-year-olds

9 – 12-year-olds

12 – 15-year-olds

15 – 18-year-olds

  • This arrangement provides an atmosphere of community in which everyone contributes and everyone learns from one another. The “teaching” is done by older to younger as well as younger to older.

  • Children who are older and/or more skilled will become an inspiration and role model as they spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger children in the class.

  • The considerate, respectful and caring attitude developed from the earliest age is considered fundamental to the child’s eventual outcome as an adult functioning in the real world.

INDIVIDUALISED LEARNING

  • Children learn directly from the environment, and from other children, rather than from the teacher.

  • Large groups occur only at the beginning of a new class, or at the beginning of the Montessori school year, and are phased out as the children gain independence. As a result, most of the learning activities are individualised.

  • For example, a child engages in a learning task that particularly appeals to him because he finds the activities geared and suitable to his needs and level of readiness. Consequently, he works at his own rate, with minimal assistance from the teacher, repeating the task as often as he likes, thus experiencing a series of successful achievements. In this manner, he builds a positive attitude toward learning itself.

  • A trained Montessorian is, in fact, “superficial” in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child’s research and exploration.

  • The key to a successful Montessori classroom is the teacher’s power of observation, i.e. in being able to capitalise on her children’s interests and excitement about a particular subject in order to nurture their truest potential. 

GROUND RULES & NORMALISATION PERIOD

  • The process of normalisation is a significant and imperative journey, which begins when the children first enter the Montessori classroom and are introduced to the exercises of practical life (EPL).

  • These materials help the child to develop their motor skills, acquire a sense of order, and begin the process of extending their ability and desire for concentrated work.

  • Normalisation refers to the state of focus, concentration, and independence of the children, by their own choice. It means they have acquired the internal freedom to initiate work, be independent, and adhere (by choice) to the rules of the environment.

  • At BRAINY BUNCH, our well prepared Montessori environment facilitates the process of normalisation by observing an annual “Montessori Ground Rules” for the whole month of January at the start of each year.

  • This allows all new/returning children to adjust and the whole system to “normalise” before any actual academic lessons can begin.

  • To the uninformed parent, the delay of traditionally perceived academic learning may falsely indicate that their child’s progress is considerably slower than that of other widespread traditional methods.

  • Yet, this foundational work is necessary to allow accelerated progress once the child is ready.

CHARACTER EDUCATION

  • Opportunities for the teaching of the personality are considered at least as important as academic education.

  • Children are given the opportunity to take care of themselves, each other, and the environment.

  • Their responsibility as a member of the community includes their share of housekeeping, classroom management, graceful and courteous social gestures (e.G. Moving gracefully, speaking politely), and social work in the community (e.G. Watering plants and gardening, cooking, building, and etc.).

OBSERVATION & ASSESSMENT

  • Each child’s progress is scientifically observed, studied and recorded by the teacher.

  • These observations are made, for the most part, on the level of concentration of each child, the intellectual capacity observed through the introduction to and mastery of each piece of:

Learning material

Social & emotional development

Physical health & level activity

Spiritual elements

  • In short, children learn from what they are studying individually, but also from the amazing variety of work that is going on around them during the day.

  • Learning is considered to happen every single second of the child’s exposure in a Montessori environment.

  • There are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment, whether subtle or overt.

  • Assessment is by portfolio and the teacher’s observation and record keeping.

  • The real test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behaviour or character (shakhsiah) of the children – their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning, concentration, and work. 

CLASS SIZE & SCHEDULE

  • In practice, in Montessori classrooms worldwide, the most successful 3 – 6 year classes are of 30-35 children to one teacher, with one non-teaching assistant.

  • This provides a variety of personalities, learning styles, and work being done at one time.

  • This class size is possible because the children learn from each other and stay with the same teacher for one to three years.

  • Following this international practice, brainy bunch ratios its classrooms to a maximum of 15-16 children to one fully trained teacher.

  • There is at least one 3-hour period of uninterrupted work time each day. Although the overall day is heavily structured, students are free to explore the concepts that appeal to them.

  • Adults and children in the prepared environment respect concentration and do not interrupt someone who is busy with a task.

  • Groups form spontaneously on predictable yet flexible rituals, routines and orders which have been proven scientifically to encourage the child’s genius.

MONTESSORI TEACHER'S ROLE

  • Strikingly different compared to the conventional teaching methodology we have today where the teacher stands in front of the class and teach each child the same lesson all at once, a brainy bunch of Montessorians takes on the supporting role of a loving mursyid (guide) who facilitates the child’s learning process.

  • She is trained to recognise a child’s readiness according to age, ability, and interest for a specific lesson, and is prepared to guide individual progress.

  • Although the teacher plans lessons for each child for each day, she will bend to the interests of a child following a passion.

  • The steps of learning any concept are analysed by the adult and are systematically offered and demonstrated to the child. As such, a child is always learning something that is indirectly preparing him to learn something else as well, making education a joyful discovery instead of a chore.

  • Dr Montessori called this way of teaching “preparing the child for success”.  

  • The teacher is there to guide the child through small exercises in which the child will succeed.

  • The child will contently “teach” himself, and is allowed to learn at his own rhythm in a way where he feels as though he is in fact not learning or being taught.

  • Through time, the exercises rise in difficulty but because the progression is so well thought out, the child never feels as though learning is a struggle; hence, the love of lifelong learning.

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