The Parents & Their Journey
Mrs Anna Sarmiento on Distance Montessori Education (DME)
"Under the lamentable circumstances brought about by the pandemic, DME is, in my opinion, the closest to the real thing."
I am a mother of a 5-year-old who has been with PMC since she was 23 months. She had just moved up to Children’s House when COVID-19 happened, and consequently she mourned the loss of her access to friends and their beautiful classroom, though not for long. PMC brought the classroom to our home.
I love that Distance Montessori Education (DME) was piloted before being implemented. And though it is continuously being improved, it has preserved the Montessori triad of the child, the environment, and the guide, and all the elements that set PMC apart from other local Montessori schools. Under the lamentable circumstances brought about by the pandemic, DME is, in my opinion, the closest to the real thing.
My child and I welcomed DME with much enthusiasm: we watched the webinars together, prepared her space as recommended, unwrapped school materials like presents on Christmas Day. Being the eager parent that I was, I hovered. I got in the way of my child. I realized I had to learn how to be part of the environment, and I had to learn fast.
My child’s guide has been most inspiring. She makes split-second discernment look effortless. She appears perpetually calm. But there is more to being an adult in a Montessori environment than meets the eye. With her words and her voice she makes the children feel safe, loved, and respected. Through modified presentations of materials she honors the uniqueness of each child (a task that evidently warrants professional training). By the way she responds to unwanted behavior she reveals a profound understanding of the developing mind. From our consultations and from her example I learned to put more faith in my child but also curb my expectations, how to step in and how to let go. I learned that I can witness what my child is truly capable of if I don’t intervene too much, too soon.
Under her guidance, my daughter is happy. The days see her construct herself indefatigably. From a 3-year-old who polished, built the Pink Tower, and observed older children work, she has become a 5-year-old who decides how to spend her morning: write, solve math problems, or teach younger children. Her attention span has stretched considerably. Her confidence has steadily grown. Her empathy too. She enjoys working collaboratively with her peers. She likes creating self-imposed challenges and surprises me with her stamina. She also surprises me with her increasing self-reliance and mindfulness on Zoom. Sometimes she needs me next to her, not only as tech support, but for emotional support as well. Other times she prefers to be by herself. I secretly watch, though, because I cannot resist the sight of her in a blissful state of concentration. DME has allowed me to attest how Montessori cultivates the spirit of the child.
With DME, other things have likewise become salient. Now I understand my child's affection for the adults in school—they treat her with dignity. Now I understand my child’s attachment to her guide—she is not simply aware of my child’s idiosyncrasies; she celebrates them. Now I know why my child finds so much joy in Music class, and now I know how it refines her sensorimotor control as well as how it acquaints her with different cultures, especially our own. Lastly, I deeply appreciate how Philippine heritage is not merely tokenistically represented, as small group sessions have been wonderfully scaffolded in such a way that both children and the assistant guide now converse, make riddles and read stories in Filipino.
Honestly I cannot imagine early childhood distance education being done any other way. I cannot imagine small children not learning with their hands, working with materials so lovingly made by the PMC faculty and staff. The pandemic has not stopped them from giving the children the best, because only the best is good enough. DME, the remote learning framework designed by PMC, is a gift that I am grateful for everyday.
Mrs Melissa Warren's DME Experience
PMC gave my children the confidence to explore and learn at their own pace. But it was during this pandemic that we really felt how dedicated the teachers were to the guidance and development of their students. They gave all the support they could, going above and beyond any expectations, showing how a true village filled with care can raise a child.
Mrs Ria Lopez Reflections on the DME environment
Online distance learning is difficult for everyone but I am thankful for the PMC community for their dedication in making it a smooth and enjoyable journey for my children. The online platform has not hindered the teachers enthusiasm and community building. They take time to connect with the children and have found very creative ways to engage the children. The presentations and observations are just as great as they would be on site and it’s fantastic that they lend us the materials so the children can really learn while doing.
My children still have some difficulty sitting in front of the screen (and I’m always assured that this is typical) but they always look forward to seeing their teachers, learning, observing and talking to their classmates and music and singing. The teachers are always glad to help by giving me suggestions and activities to help my children for times they are off screen and patiently answer any of my questions.
The environment may be different but the things that matter- the teachers love for guiding, observing and seeing the best in all the children are there everyday and the children are growing, enjoying and learning. Yes, there are many hard days and sometimes it’s really tiring but the PMC community’s hard work continues to amaze me and I’m grateful that our family is part of this community.
Mr Jolly Gomez Reminiscing
As young parents over 25 years ago, we were wondering where to take our first born son. We wanted the best for our child, at a reasonable price, and with a proven track record. We mainly relied on word of mouth from trusted friends who enrolled their children at Philippine Montessori Center. All of our 5 children studied at PMC and 4 of them went on to study and now graduate from the elementary and high school. We have no regrets on our decision. Their experience in school was one of joy and discovery of learning, values formation, order, respect and cleanliness. What made this school different from many other schools that I have seen since then, apart from the curriculum and methodology, is the dedication of the teachers. It is hard to imagine that 25 years later, some of the teachers of my children are still in touch with them. The teachers of PMC did not just teach the Montessori method, they lived it - in and out of the school. Many of them have become good friends and we continue to see the values of the school through the lives that they live.This sense of professionalism comes from the philosophy and values of the founder the school who has successfully been able to maintain the highest standards in education despite the heavy demands of parents in today's multi-tasking world.
The Journey of Mrs Robina Barrera
I am a mother of two girls, Mia and Andrea. They are both products of the Philippine Montessori Center.
I did not start out as a convert of the Montessori method. Frankly, my eldest daughter entered PMC because of convenience more than anything. We were new in the neighborhood, the school's reputation was good, standards were high, the environment was conducive. What's there not to like? And she did ok in PMC, even if it was for a very short stay—it was just to fill the one year gap before she moved on to big school. She was accepted into big school right away, and we moved her at age 5, amidst peer pressure, despite her teachers begging us to let her stay one more year.
But Andrea was a different case. She started in PMC when she just turned two, and stayed for four years. We never regretted that decision to let her stay.
Before our eyes, Andrea started off as a precocious toddler, and transformed herself to end her last year in PMC as a confident leader and student. She exuded gentleness, intelligence, responsibility, creativity--all along keeping her childlike innocence and discipline. We were never "strict" Montessori parents, and whilst we embraced the Montessori method, it was not until our latter years when we saw the impact it had on our little girl. Looking back, we probably would have appreciated the PMC method much more had we been aware.
What about Montessori did we like? Well, in a nutshell, everything. The first point of differentiation was the mixed-age group in the classroom--something I personally did not understand initially, but over time was able to grasp and fully appreciate. From being the youngest in class, Andrea learned the principles of following instructions, listening to reason, learning to be a good follower. She ended her last year in PMC being the leader, responsibility and care as part of her actions. Integral in their daily rituals are the practical life exercises which we as parents take for granted. The school administration had taken pains to orient first-time parents like myself on how Montessori operates. The teachers were used to an individualized pace of learning for the class--with the students being free to choose his/her preferred activity of the day. The freedom of movement in the classroom allows for self-expression and encourages social interaction skills, at the same time, allowing for the student to develop using different working blocks. At her age, Andrea has long realized what areas interest her, where she excels.
Music is another aspect of education which I love in PMC. And boy, did Andrea bloom in her music! It is not just a source of pride for any parent, but is an avenue for the child to slowly find her place, allowing for her expressive self to develop. And yet, under the tutelage of the Philippine Montessori Center Instrumental Ensemble (PMCIE) teaching staff, led by Teacher Lois, the students did not just develop their self-identity, but they formed a cohesive bond. Indeed, the PMCIE extracted the best of my daughter at such a tender age. Through their own interpretation of music, my daughter has built her confidence and social skills in such a short period of time. We were hardly able to recognize our own daughter the first time they performed as an ensemble.
The saddest part of my PMC journey is having to bid goodbye to this institution. After five years in PMC, I am a big believer that PMC has done well for my daughters. They have instilled the courage and the confidence, the independence and the compassion. Both my girls are now prepared to face the big schools and the challenges that come with it. Both are trained to learn with a passion, a love for knowledge, and a heart for others.
I've always believed that there is no perfect school. But PMC way is probably the closest to perfect-- at least for my children. Thank you PMC, for a job well done. Sadly, I don't have any more children, so perhaps I will see you again in the future-- for my grandchildren.