Reaching Children With The Montessori Method

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
 As three and four year olds head to pre-school this fall at the First United Methodist Church in Warsaw, they will meet their new teachers Eunice Christenson and Kathy Anstaett.
Eunice grew up in South Korea and brings a different culture to the young students.  She met her husband Garold in 2001 while he was working as a missionary in South Korea.  They were married in 2003 and Eunice came with her husband to the United States in 2011.
Eunice worked as a teacher in South Korea teaching the Montessoni Method.  The Montessoni Method of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori is a child centered education approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood.
The Montessoni method is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive thoughtfully prepared learning environment.  It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child – physical, social, emotional, cognitive. 
The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is  prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.
Dr. Montessori observed that children experience sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity, as they grow. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized.
In early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.
Montessori students learn to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly—a skill set for the 21st century.
“I want to act as a guide for my students,” said Eunice.  “At this age children are like sponges they soak up everything they see and I hope to guide them on their journey.”
Eunice and her husband have traveled across the United Sates in their RV.  They worked at an Indian reservation church for a while and wherever they went Eunice worked with children.
“My husband came to Korea as a missionary but he was also a science teacher,” said Eunice.  “We settled in Warsaw because we were tired of the RV and wanted a more permanent home.
Eunice has been working with two year olds at Children’s Palace and plans to continue working there part time after school starts in the fall.
 “I hope to help children develop inner peace,” Eunice said.  “If we show love to children then they will be at peace with themselves.”
Eunice wants to keep technology out of the pre-school classroom.
“We will be working with our hands,” Eunice said.  “I hope to have a garden outside where they can grow strawberries, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.  I want them to pick their food, cut it up and eat it.”
Eunice worked for a while as a translator.  “I lived in Vancouver for a time learning English.  I hope to teach my student Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages.”
Eunice also wants to educate the parents.  “I cannot help the children without the parent’s help.  The parents must be willing to learn as well,” Eunice said.
Eunice grew up as the youngest of seven.  Her parents were farmers and the family all worked together in their peanut farm.  Eunice’s mother, who is now 85 years old, still works on the farm although now it is an apple orchard.
“My mother taught me and instilled in me a good work ethic,” said Eunice.
The other new teacher is Kathy Anstaett.  Kathy is a well-known Warsaw teacher who has taught pre-school as well as elementary education.
Enrollment is underway for fall classes at the First United Methodist Church Pre-School.  Children ages 3 and 4 are wanted to join the FUMC Pre-School for learning, interacting with other children and lots of fun.
The First United Methodist Church of Warsaw Preschool Board and Staff believe a program that provides an environment of Christian nurture and love for young children and their families is vital.  Children will be offered a developmentally appropriate curriculum in order for them to be ready to learn once they enter kindergarten.  It is of utmost importance that young children be granted positive learning opportunities and social interaction so that their school careers are off to a good start.
Those children who are three or four by August 1 may register in the FUMC Pre-School program.  Classes are offered in the mornings from 8 until 11 AM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Afternoon classes will be offered from 1 until 3 PM
The FUMC Pre-School will follow the Warsaw R-9 School district schedule for snow days and holidays.
There will be occasional field trips to local destinations such as the library, visitor’s center or Drake Harbor.  Parents, grandparents and/or legal guardians are invited to accompany the class on field trips.
Parents are an integral part of our program.  Parent volunteers are welcome to help supervise field trips, provide for special parties and other planned experiences. 
Parents of children who will be three by August 1 are encouraged to contact the Eunice Christenson, Administrator of the FUMC Pre-School to enroll for the fall classes.  FUMC welcomes all children from across the county to enroll.  Tuition is $125 per month for three days a week.  Scholarships are available.  FUMC Pre-School is located inside the First United Methodist Church on Washington Street in Warsaw.   Contact the church office at 438-6261 for more information.