Early Childhood Development and the Montessori Method are two complimentary approaches to early childhood education.
Early Childhood Development promotes the value of Learn Through Play (LTP) and Role Play, educational ideas now well accepted in many countries as the ideal way to educate children in their early years. The concept of mixing school with “play” however does not meet with much acceptance in Nepal where a more traditional approach is the accepted norm. Educating the parents on the inherent value of LTP might take some time.
The concept of Montessori education has established a beach-head in Nepal. In fact appending the name “Montessori” to a school name in Nepal is code for a high quality child care establishment – whether or not it has Montessori equipment or teachers schooled in the Montessori method. Nevertheless the Montessori approach is seen as novel and parents express pride in sending their child to “Montessori”.
This acceptance of Montessori shows the importance Nepali families see in the value of early childhood education and this awareness opens the door to other non-traditional methods for teaching young children. The Montessori approach fosters experiential learning, it encourages curiosity in children, a “try it and see what happens” approach to self-learning through guided experiments.
The combination of the ECD and Montessori approaches brings about an ideal system which accomplishes the basic goal of early childhood development – learning how to learn – and the organized structure of Montessori which parents see as beneficial. Hence the development of a made-in-Nepal system we call Early Childhood Montessori (ECM).
Towards this end CFFN in co-operation with the Pokhara Montessori Kinder Home helped organize a Early Childhood Education Workshop in Pokhara attended by about 50 child care workers most from Pokhara but some from as far away as Kathmandu and the Upper Mustang. A special feature of the workshop was how to use “found items” (empty pop bottles etc.) to create useful educational toys.
The workshop was a big success and the training materials have been translated into Nepali with plans to run the workshop to a wider audience.