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This summer Maria, a six year old girl went to San Diego, California for two months as her mother was studying there. The family needed to organize school for Maria, and this turned out not to be a big problem. Maria goes to a Montessori school in Moscow and they found one in San Diego. In two days Maria settled perfectly well in a class with 20 children. What helped her?

The answer is in the universal approach by means of which Montessori schools organize the process of education. Research, studies and feedback from parents prove this kind of education to be effective regardless of the country. It is practiced worldwide.

As you enter a Montessori class you enter a carefully prepared child-centred environment. Children work in mixed age groups. Every child learns through his or her own active experiences with carefully chosen materials. There is no competition here, no direct instructions. Everyone has an opportunity to progress at his or her own pace. Freedom and responsibility, co-operation and self-esteem is nurtured through the guidance of a trained adult who believes children have inherent passion for learning.

Montessori schools in Russia are on the rise these days. Among those that could be justly named a part of the international educational community is the Molodezhnaya Montessori School (MMS) in Moscow. It follows the high standards of education set by the Association Montessori International (AMI), and is aimed to provide authentic Montessori programs for children up to 6+ years of age. Svetlana Chashnikova, the Founder and Head of the school comments on its goals: “Our pre-school provides a loving learning environment. Our two programs that cover the most important formative period in the child’s development are The Toddler Community and Children’s House (Casa dei Bambini). Our curriculum is based on the Montessori method and naturally integrates art, music, physical activities, cooking and gardening. The teachers have internationally recognized diplomas and every adult serves for the benefit of each child. In our school we are convinced that each family has a right to access the same high standard of education regardless of where they live: London, New York or Moscow.”

What is remarkable about the Montessori approach is that it considers each child to be a citizen of the world. And if we want children to become responsible people, aiming to build a respectful friendly community we need to provide them with the means of communication. That could be done through a multilingual approach in classes. Children in their early years learn languages easily and naturally when a language is just a part of the environment.

“We are a bilingual family, says Oleyna Grigorenko, mother of four year old Gleb. Our son spent his early years in the United States and English has become his primary language. When we came to Russia we looked for a school where he could fit into the Russian environment. We chose MMS. We like the fact that there are teachers in the school who speak English. That is a link to Gleb’s American experience. And it’s wonderful that now he also has a real advantage of learning Russian language and culture. Everything is going well. He enjoys going to school and is happy to meet his new friends and teachers every day.”

Molodezhnaya Montessori School was opened six years ago. Now there are children from five expat families, and the school welcomes new children to become part of it. The learning process successfully integrates Russian, English and French languages. In this growing international community each child can share the customs and traditions of the country he/she is from and smoothly adapt to the new culture and benefit from their stay in Russia in a friendly comfortable atmosphere.

“There are a number of private pre-schools or kindergartens in Moscow with English speaking teachers. Our daughter who is three is very happy at this school and we are really pleased with her progress there. She has developed a lot of personal independence and confidence in herself e.g. washing and dressing herself, preparing a snack, etc. It works best when the child is supported by the Montessori environment at home and parents endeavour to follow the principles, as we do. She has benefited greatly from the Montessori approach, which is implemented carefully at the school,” wrote Stephen J. Matthews, Partner in Allen & Overy Legal Services.

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