Montessori offers children opportunities to learn naturally in a well-prepared environment. The structured curriculum which is developed specially for every single child’s needs, interests and stage of development help children to enhance their skills in a free and friendly way. The global and respectful understanding of Montessori enables children to become a world citizen with full of respect to herself, as well as other individuals and environment. All these together empowers children to become self-confident, self-aware and peaceful individuals.
Early Childhood Education, Development and Care, and the Importance of Early Interventions
Early childhood is the most important period of human life. It is the very foundations of brain development and has multiplier effects both on human life and society. A research conducted by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child highlights the lifelong impact of “early preventive intervention”. Having healthy early childhood experiences leads one to be able to establish more strong relationships. Nobel laureate economist James J. Heckman argues this in several of his studies. One of the things he constantly underlies is the outcomes of early childhood investments. Investing in early childhood does not only serve for the well-being of the child but it also produces economic outcomes in terms of the improved quality of labour force, eradication of inequality, and balance in gender equality issues. Heckman also shows that “the returns of school investment are higher for persons with higher ability, where ability is formed in early years”.
All these together points to the importance of taking action at the national level and taking child care and early childhood education into consideration during policy-making processes. With this small project and conferences, we have tried to help expand and enhance the understanding of the importance of the investments in early childhood education. The more peaceful environment we provide to the children, the healthier and happier communities we will become. To this end, we hope to see more pro-child projects, policies and applications at both local and national level.
Montessori Teacher Training in Neighborhood Crèches of Istanbul:
The Project and Beyond
June 3, 2015
“Help me to help myself” is the most famous and self-explanatory quote by Maria Montessori on her approach in early childhood education. Barbara Isaacs, the academic director of London Montessori Centre International (MCI), emphasized this philosophy of Maria Montessori with several examples from all over the world in Montessori conferences which were held in early June in Boğaziçi University, Istanbul and UNICEF Turkey Country Office in Ankara. The aim of these conferences was to reach early childhood development (ECD) professionals and to excite their interest on Montessori approach and its applicability in Turkey. These two conferences were organized within the frame of Montessori Teacher Training project which has been developed in Istanbul with the partnership of Development Analytics, Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (KEDV) and London Montessori Centre International. Financial support for the Project was coming from Istanbul Development Agency (ISTKA).
Barbara Isaacs started her speech at the UNICEF Turkey Country Office emphasizing how Montessori saw children as agents of social change. The audience to this talk was officials from ministries including Ministry of National Education (MEB), Ministry of Family and Social Policy (ASPB), Ministry of Development, Ministry of Labor and Social Security (ÇSGB), as well as academics and NGO representatives who are working specifically on ECD. The examples of MCI’s work around the world was very inspiring. Especially case studies from Colombia, Uganda, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Tanzania underlined how the Government initiatives incorporate Montessori principles into education.
The conference continued with Hannah Baynham’s presentation on application of Montessori in Turkey. Miss Baynham is a highly qualified Montessori teacher and teacher trainer. Under the Montessori Teacher Training project, she trained 93 ECD students and professionals. She also wrote a book on Montessori application and understanding the philosophy as a final product of this Montessori Teacher Training Project. Her speech was followed by the presentation of outcomes of the project. Merve Uzunalioglu presented the qualitative analysis of the project which stressed the desire of project participants to learn more about Montessori and to be able to apply it in their own settings, especially in public schools and child care centers. Lastly, Development Analytics’ Dr. Meltem Aran delivered her talk on the overview of child care provision in Turkey. Numbers and analyses spoke for themselves and clearly showed how many more service providers Turkey need to meet the unserved children and to reach the OECD average.
Dr. Aran draw the audience’s attention to this low level of coverage and added “while the progress has been made in recent years in the availability of preschool services for the 5+ year old age group through public facilities, the current utilization of center-based preschool and child care services in Turkey remains low . Having in mind the shortage of facilities for 3 to 5 years old, and also for toddlers, a more radical expansion in capacity is needed.” Yet, one must notice that this expansion requires not only a physical development but also an improvement in quality. On this regard, we believe Montessori could be one of the main methods which could be easily adapted to the Turkish education system.