Little Steps has joined forces with the International Montessori School (IMS) to explain 21st Century Skills and why children need them. The first article of this series explains these skills and the pivotal Four C's and the second article of this series explains 'The Future Ready Adolescent', its benefits, how it is implemented and describes the incredible project of Wilfred to help children in Guyana is also described. The third article explains 'How to Give Students Future-Ready Skills Through Community Service' and how the capability of complex problem-solving is a key trait for the future.

Now in its fourth edition, we delve into discussing 'Building Student Ownership Through Community Mapping' and how this is a key pillar in the success of IMS. At the International Montessori Schools of Hong Kong, communication and working in groups are part of their lifeblood.

Building Student Ownership Through Community Mapping

Research suggests that working together as a team and focusing on developing collaboration knowledge and skill is important for multiple reasons:

* People who know more about collaborating go on to enjoy a higher performance in team settings.

* Training students to work together makes collaborative or cooperative learning approaches to teaching more successful in terms of student learning.

* Strengthening students’ collaboration skills can also enhance their prospects for employment and job advancement once they leave school.

* Teaching young learners how to work with others within a community on social issues can improve students’ commitment to civic participation.

 

Communication

Communication skills are central to success in school, work, and life. Your child is able to learn these directly, but they can also be acquired through activities such as reading or writing assignments, presentations, or class discussions. Most importantly communication skills can be practiced outside the classroom through play dates, building forts and treehouses and other play-based activities. 

Research indicates that developing strong communication skills is important for a variety of reasons:

* Strong communication skills are associated with improved interpersonal relationships and health outcomes.

*Reading skills early in elementary school are predictive of academic success in high school, and strong communication skills upon entering college are linked to higher grades and graduation rates.

* Employers seek job candidates with strong communication skills.

 

The Classroom

Step into a Montessori classroom or “environment” as they call it, and you will immediately notice that the space looks very different from other school settings. Everything is scaled to the child’s size, including furniture, utensils, cleaning implements, and the Montessori materials themselves. This is the prepared environment: a meticulously arranged space designed to encourage the child’s growth and learning - physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally.

At all levels of learning, the three years mixed age group community is a fundamental characteristic of the Montessori classroom. Dr. Montessori divided children into these groups based on her research that showed distinct periods of cognitive development, each with its own specific needs and behaviors.

The interactions and positive communication also benefit all of the children; older students exercise patience, compassion, and empathy through their language, while the younger ones listen and engage in higher levels of conversations than they are currently capable of. Social interactions between peers involve kindness and grace.