At the end of February, the Extended Day Primary children had the pleasure of learning about the Chinese New Year from one of Villa di Maria’s beloved parents: Qiaoni Jing, who grew up in China. More on the lesson, and why learning about diverse cultures is so important in Montessori, below.
Maria Montessori was a passionate advocate for global peace. As a result, the concept of global citizenship is a major tenet of Montessori education. Promoting diversity and placing value on cultural differences teaches children to respect and celebrate those whose traditions and cultures differ from their own.
In keeping with the Montessori method, children are often introduced to multi-sensory experiences when learning about different cultures. For our Diwali Hindu festival of lights celebration, for instance, children experienced the soft glow of candles, traditional sounds from the music the children learned and played for their peers, storytelling, images from Indian artwork, crafts, and the tastes and smells of various traditional Indian treats. Similarly, the Elementary children celebrated the Chinese New Year of 2017 with traditional Chinese costumes, photos of celebrations, a Kung Fu demonstration from a master of the art, storytelling of Nian (which was presented both in English and Mandarin), Chinese crafts, and delicious traditional Chinese treats.
This year, Qiaoni Jing, a P3 mother here at VdM, came to teach three Chinese characters to the children. Learning about the differences in reading and writing between American and Chinese cultures was eye-opening and quite interesting to the children!
Qiaoni shares, “This year is very special for the Chinese community in our state as for the first time in the history, the Chinese Lunar New Year was officially recognized, a step forward for diversity and inclusion. Gov Greitens and the First Lady had official New Year Eve celebrations first at the State Capitol and then at the Governor’s Mansion. Richard and I were invited to be part of the celebrations and witness the historic moment.”
“[The children] were so inquisitive and participative, asking lots of questions and becoming all hands-on when it was time to learn how to write Chinese characters. I loved it when many of them came to show me their writings. I also love it when many of them came back to ask for a second red envelope for their siblings. Very sweet that they thought about sharing and helping someone else to learn too.”
“I am lucky that this year Antoine became a full-blown Teaching Assistant, doing demonstrations, interpreting questions, helping answering questions as well as helping his friends on writing Chinese. Still I was a bit (happily) exhausted by the end of the event since we spent about 2X of the planned time and every minute was full of energy and engagement. At that moment, I felt that I understand the VdM Directresses and Assistants better: there is a lot to manage when you get a group of extended-stay children together. I wanted to say thank you to all of them for taking care of our kids day in and day out.”
“I did the Chinese New Year celebration only with P3 last year. I was thrilled when Mrs. Steinman said it will be for all the extended day kids. Thank you Villa for giving me the opportunity to share something near and dear to my heart with the kids. I also appreciate all the logistics support from Mrs. Steinman, Carrie, Jade, Mrs. McAuley, Ms. Braud, and Dani before and during the celebration.
Thank you, Qiaoni, for taking the time to teach the children, and for all the effort that went into preparing the presentations. We know they enjoyed it!