The Junior Campus follows the Montessori method of education and focuses on the WHOLE CHILD APPROACH. The Montessori principles address the physical, social, emotional, cognitive and the spiritual development of the child. Every Montessori classroom is a PREPARED ENVIRONMENT – an environment that is beautiful, structured, is developmentally appropriate, provides freedom of choice and scope to experience and internalize.
There are 10 Montessori environments. Each is a multiage classroom with children from 3.5 to 6.5 years of mixed skill levels. Each environment has around 30 children, under the able guidance of 2 teachers. All teachers are Montessori trained and certified, and are well-equipped to facilitate the learning. Each environment is also supported by an Akka (support staff), to help the children with the classroom chores. There are additional Akkas staffed on every floor to guide the children through the campus. A Montessori classroom has four primary areas of learning – Exercises of Practical Life, Sensorial, Language Arts and Arithmetic.
Art & Craft, music, outdoor play, yoga, Bhagavad Gita chanting, library hour, art of learning are the other activities the children are exposed to, as they go through the week. These give the children ample opportunities for creative expressions and joyful experiences. The Montessori materials are manipulative to different degrees and provide a bridge from concrete, experience-based learning to abstract thought. The three-year work cycle coupled with house visits, celebrations, field trips, carnivals complete the learning journey.
Exercises of Practical Life (EPL)
“The organization of man has three parts – brains, muscles, senses. Movement is the final result to which the working of all these delicate mechanisms leads up. In fact it is only through movement that the personality can express itself” – Dr. Maria Montessori in her book, The Absorbent Mind.
The aim of the EPL activities is to help the child in taking care of the self, taking care of the environment and also in learning early life skills. These activities are designed to enhance the child’s attention span and improve controlled movement of hands and body. Pouring of grains from one container to another, opening and closing of containers, making of buttermilk and lime juice, cut-ting carrots, pounding pottukadalai(roasted Bengal gram), washing hands and washing chowkis are some of the activities offered under EPL. These activities help our Pre-Primary I children settle in the environment and form a foundation for all other activities in the environment.
‘The senses are gateways to intelligence. There is nothing in intelligence that did not pass first through the senses.’ – Aristotle
The primary purpose of the Sensorial Activities is to help the child sort out the many and varied impressions given by our senses. The Sensorial materials help refine the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, baric, tactile, thermic and stereognostic senses. Colour Tablets, Sound Cylinders, Fabrics, Touch Boards & Tablets, Smelling Bottles, Mystery Bags are some of the materials in the Sensorial area. The materials follow a developmental succession and are scientific and precise. Almost all the sensorial materials prepare the hand for writing.
‘There is in every child a painstaking teacher, so skillful that he obtains identical results in all children in all parts of the world. The only language men ever speak perfectly is one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!’ – Dr. Maria Montessori
Language starts from day one in the Montessori environment. The assistance given is direct as well as indirect. Phonemic awareness is created while enrichment of vocabulary takes place with the help of name lessons, storytelling, picture cards, planned conversations, songs and rhymes. The child is encouraged to express his ideas orally as well as in writing. Hence reading and writing are introduced in a child friendly approach. Children are introduced to activities which help them understand and appreciate the world around and to share their ideas and experiences with others. It is wonderful to see the ‘explosion’ into reading and writing happening in the Montessori environments.
‘Human intelligence is no longer a natural intelligence but a mathematical intelligence. Without a mathematical education, it is impossible to understand the progress of our time or to participate in it. In
its natural state, the human mind is already mathematical; it tends towards exactness, measures and comparison.’ – Dr. Maria Montessori.
The abstract subject of math is given a concrete form through the materials created by Dr.Maria Montessori. When children are introduced to numbers, the quantity is given first and then, the symbols for the quantities given. The child is introduced to the decimal system of numeration followed by the four basic operations namely addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, introduced through many parallel exercises. The foundation given in the Montessori environment stands the child in good stead for long in the future.
As per the Tamil Learning Act, 2006 (Tamil Nadu Act 13 of 2006), all students appearing in the board exam from 2024-25, are expected to write Tamil as a compulsory paper in Grade 10. Therefore, Tamil is a compulsory language.
Based on this act, the school offers the languages ensuring that Tamil is compulsory either as a second or third language. However, students who are natives of Tamil Nadu are required to choose only Tamil as their second language.
At the Montessori level (PP1, PP2, and Grade 1: The school offers both Tamil and Hindi. Both the languages are taught on par with each other.
Bhagavad Gita chanting is a tradition at Hari Shree and a regular activity in the Junior Campus. Chanting has a plethora of benefits. Among them is its intrinsic ability to calm the mind, relieve stress, and induce a positive vibration in the body. It is also believed to strengthen memory, concentration and improve diction.
All festivals are celebrated with great joy and fervor. Parents and grandparents are invited to participate in some of the festivities.
The Sports Carnival has children playing games in a carnival set-up. The aim is to create a fun atmosphere for children where they can employ their abilities of coordination, dexterity and skills to play games, at a pace comfortable to them. There are no winners or losers, only very happy children. Based on the week’s theme/topic, short field trips are organized to places like the nearby super market, post office, fire station, park for children to have experiential learning. An annual Field trip is organized for each grade level to an age-appropriate destination.
House Visits are planned every term in which children go to a classmate’s house, play games, eat a scrumptious snack and thoroughly enjoy themselves. These are opportunities for children to learn to present themselves, to exchange courtesies and to share their goodies like toys and food.
Parent Child Program
The parent child program was conceived by Pujya Swami Dayanada Saraswati. Separating the child from the parent at a very early age causes emotional trauma. The pain impacts their relationships and how they perceive life.
Swamiji advised people not to send children to school before 7 years ,or at least till they complete 5 years. However, children start attending school earlier due to lifestyle changes. So he suggested the parent- child program, where the parent accompanies the child to school for the Pre Primary years. The parent child program has been a part of Hari Shree since its inception.
Research shows that a mother is the basis of a child’s exploration of the world. The human child, unlike other animals, has a long period of dependency – almost up to seven years – before moving on to independent exploration. The reason for the dependency is not just psychological or emotional but biological – organisation of the sensory information into perception – laying a strong foundation for future development. Once the child is ready he/she can move on to explore the world around with confidence and power.This transition is successful, only if the child has an unquestioned safe place to instantly return to. Thus, respecting and co-operating with nature’s plan of 3 billion years of evolution leads to full development of intelligence.
Hence a healthy bonding between parent and a child is an absolute necessity to develop a healthy relationship with people, regulate emotions and perform better academically and socially.
Transition from Home to School
Learning to be apart from family, even for a few hours, is a tough transition for a young child. It can cause intense pain and anxiety. Some children exhibit it explicitly, while others do not. However, all children go through this developmental phase of separation anxiety. They outgrow it gradually by 5 years. Intense separation anxiety can lead to anxiety disorder due to increased sensitivity of the Limbic system, and learning and memory impairment due to reduced growth of hippocampus.
The new school environment, with new adults and peers can be overwhelming for a child. However, it is in the inherent nature of the child to play and explore. Even if the school is a safe and joyful environment, the child still feels the absence of the parent. It is a mixture of complex emotions that he cannot express. At the end of the day, the child may exhibit happiness on seeing his/her parent. It is out of relief to be back with them and assurance that he/ she is not abandoned.
The parent of a Pre-Primary 1 child comes to school for a period of one month and stays in school during the school hours.
Parents are available in the parent room that the child is free to visit when he/she feels the need to do so and return to the environment (classroom) when they feel ready.
This gives them the assurance that they are safe and not abandoned and the school environment is not a threat.
Parents are also allowed to be in the environments if and when their presence will help the child settle.
Parents have an opportunity to learn about culture, parenting, Montessori education and other subjects of interest when they are in school through the programs organised for them.
How can the Parent be Supportive during the Program
Parents being emotionally available for the child when the child comes to the parent is a major source of support for the child. The child comes to see the parent because he /she needs the parent’s attention for various reasons. They need assurance that they are loved and safe. They may need a hug, a kiss or time to sit on the parent’s lap and feel secure. This time may be as short as a few seconds, a few minutes or longer.
When we force the child to go back to the classroom the entire purpose of the parent program is defeated.
The child not coming to see the parent during the class hours is not an indication that the child does not need the parent. The child knows the parent is available, that knowledge that ‘my mother is available and I can visit her anytime’ gives a sense of security and allows the child to play and learn to the fullest.
It started off as a six-month program. Now it is a one-month program.
When the child needs more support, parents are encouraged to stay for a longer period of time.
This period is an opportunity for parents to interact with other parents. This also strengthens the bond between the children and helps in forming a community.
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