Parents’ testimonies on maximum competencies of Pagsasarili preschoolers
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - March 21, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part 2 - Recognizing the True Nature of Preschoolers Prevent Dropouts)

This March as the school year ends, the Pagsasarili preschoolers exhibit their competencies before parents in the classroom. Their parents’ occupations vary from being tiangge stall owners, tricycle drivers, call center agents, doctor, food servers, policeman, etc.

A smorgasbord of simple to complex materials

Demonstration is done individually or in small groups of three to four. The constant applause of parents accompany each three- to five-year-old child handling Practical Life Dressing Frames (big, small buttons, shoe lacing, tying ribbons), sweeping, shoe polishing, etc. It amazed them to see a four-year-old go through the 13 steps of laundering following the Montessori practice of “analysis of movement.” A group of three children wearing aprons demonstrate the setting of the table with placemats and breakable plates and glasses. For starter in Math, numeration 1 to 10 make use of Number Rods followed by the Spindle Box where zero is introduced. Two five-year-old children take on the more advanced Golden Decimal Beads using number cards for units, tens, hundreds and thousands. A group of three children tackle the Moveable Alphabet box to form phonetic words, as pre-reading exercise. A four-year old boy easily put together the 27-piece wooden Puzzle Map of Asia.

All these materials are one of a kind so the children learn how to wait for their turn in using them, respecting those who are working on it and returns it in proper place after the activity.

Pagsasarili preschoolers settle to work in 2 months

By May parents start enrolling their children in all our five Montessori Pagsasarili Preschools in West Crame and Onse in San Juan, Tramo in Pasay, San Roque in Marikina and Bagong Barrio in Caloocan, organized by the Operation Brotherhood Montessori Child and Community Foundation 30 years ago. (This included the CAA, Las Pinas Pagsasarili Preschool closed by Barangay Captain Aguilar in 2012, in spite of excelling students one of whom became an engineer working in Singapore.) Class demonstration during Open House takes place in two months time when they settle down. Parents are pleased to see the transformation of their timid and dependent three- to five- year-old sons and daughters to self-confident and independent children working on a hundred exercises using 60 hands-on Montessori materials. Their deviations ranging from disorderliness, crying, disobedience, quarrelsomeness, laziness normalize through work (not play) in the ‘Prepared Environment.’

Testimonies of a school principal, doctor and other parents

Dr. Czarlota Valdenor, parent of five-year-old Leo said “We are very satisfied with Leo’s progress in San Roque O.B. Pagsasarili Preschool. He learned to be independent in daily activities like dressing up and preparing his own snacks. He has a systematic way of doing things (the ‘cycle of work’). We are also thankful that the school allows us to see how the children work the Montessori way through the Parent Orientation and Open House. This helps parents reinforce the Montessori teachings at home.”

Eliseo Manaal, principal of the nearby West Crame (WC) Elementary School, witnessed the closing demonstration of WC Pagsasarili Preschool. He was amazed to see the fours and fives forming complex numbers with three to four digits with the Golden Decimal beads and easily work on the Puzzle Map of Asia. He found it incredible that at this early age they seemed to have jumped over elementary school to high school lessons.

An uncle from Onse, San Juan observed that his nephews have the same lessons in Math, on the addition and subtraction of two-digit numbers. But his five-year-old nephew, enrolled in the Pagsasarili, solves the problems faster and even teaches his Grade 2 brother from a public school how to do it. Handling special Math materials, the Pagsasarili child can easily abstract math concepts to solve problems compared to one who still counts using his fingers or perhaps only memorized his numbers. A father who is a freelance photographer, was impressed with his five-year-old son narrating the “life story of the butterfly” with the illustrated nomenclature cards depicting the caterpillar, cocoon, and the butterfly.

The Muslim children

Janella was only three years old when she was enrolled in the Pagsasarili West Crame in San Juan City. She was always crying and did not want to be left behind in the classroom. But her Muslim mother was firm because she had to attend to her jewelry stall in Greenhills. Janella refused all the materials offered to her at first. Teacher showed her how to do the Laundering Exercise but she would cry even while doing it. After a month, she began using a variety of materials. When she entered Grade I in Zamboanga, she was top of her class.  Then she returned to Manila where she also excelled in Camp Crame Elementary School.

Fathma was a very shy three-year-old girl who only wanted to stay in one corner holding on to her bag.  It took the teacher three weeks persistently offering the Dressing Frames and other Practical Life materials to get her to work. This enabled her to be so independent so that she takes a bath and changes into her school uniform all by herself. After school, she helps out in their Greenhills cellphone and cellphone accessories stall attracting customers to buy their goods, even answers their queries. Her zest for work enables her to demonstrate activities for visitors at the Mothercraft Literacy House in Greenhills.

What preschoolers teach their parents 

One can say that throughout the school year the Pagsasarili preschoolers are teaching their parents. First, at the opening of the school, all parents attend the Parent Orientation when the Pagsasarili teacher explains the psychological power of the five sets of materials: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and Cultural Arts (Geography, History, Botany and Zoology). After two months, having settled down, parents are invited to watch their child work independently with their 24 classmates in the Open House. For every trimester, each parent meets the class teacher to review the progress of their child’s maximum achievement. The Closing Demonstration before the end of the year shows the parents how each child works from basic to the most advanced materials. In psychology this achievement or competence must match the child’s chronological age but the Pagsasarili preschoolers actually reach the maximum competencies of the primary school children.

(Last of a three part series: The “Last Testimonies” – When Preschoolers Reach Adulthood)

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