As parents, we all want to give our kids the best start in life. And this includes choosing the best school to help support them socially and emotionally, right from a young age. As Canadian expat Melody Foerster, founder of Sai Kung Montessori reinforces – the type of support children are given in the formative years shapes the adults they become. And this central to the ethos of this Hong Kong Montessori school.
We chat with Melody more about the school, and how the Montessori approach at SKM helps children to build a framework for life.
Tell us a bit about the Montessori approach at SKM, and how it benefits the kids.
Montessori education is based on the premise that children have an innate ability to learn, and that, when supported by an appropriate environment and educator, they are guided to reach their full potential.
We know that young children are sensorial learners and that they do not yet possess the capacity (or brain structure) to think consciously or logically. Children need space and time for sensorial exploration because the feedback they acquire from it is used to build their framework of knowledge. This framework later serves as a point of reference and the child can begin to think conscientiously and logically. This is why a young child’s learning environment is so important. It’s literally when the foundation of one’s self is being constructed.
Children given the right kind of support in their formative years grow into adults who are self-motivated, think flexibly and creatively and are conscious of the needs of others and foster harmony as they go through life. Just look at the incredible achievements of Montessori alumni such as Larry Page, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.
Montessori classrooms everywhere in the world have happy, busy children of a three-year age mix (that is, 2.5 to 6 years) working purposefully and peacefully together. They are learning not only “academics” but also the ability to concentrate, persevere, solve problems, think for themselves and how to interact socially in a variety of ways.
Could you give us a snapshot of a typical day or a specific class or activity at the school?
If you walk into our school at any point during the day you will observe children who are:
- Making choices for themselves about their activities, who they want to work with, when to tidy up, when to eat, and so on.
- Working with both Montessori materials and activities that look like everyday household items.
- Taking responsibility for themselves and the classroom;
- Teaching and mentoring younger children.
- Accomplishing incredible things! There are three-year-olds that can sew buttons onto fabric and two-and-a-half-year-olds who can identify every continent on the planet because they recognise the shape of each one.
- Practicing grace and courtesy and voluntarily helping and comforting one another.
What’s the best way for parents to find out more about the school and the application process?
There will be information sessions at 10am on 26 January, 23 February and 23 March 2019. Or you can call or email to arrange a one-on-one meeting with the school director. The 2019-2020 school year begins on 12 August 2019. SKM believes that Montessori is the right fit for all children. This is why we don’t interview. Instead, we meet with families and let them decide if we’re a good match. We also don’t charge any extra fees like application, debenture, acceptance, uniform and so on.
Do you live in Sai Kung yourself?
Yes, I’ve lived here since moving to Hong Kong with my husband five years ago. I like that it’s surrounded by nature and has that small-town feel. I think the young families in Sai Kung are actively seeking meaningful relationships with their neighbours and other young families, and I love the supportive and caring parent community that is organically forming at SKM.
Sai Kung Montessori is at G/F, 787 Tan Cheung Village, Sai Kung.
See more in our Schools section
This article first appeared in the December/January 2018/19 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue