Vidya Shankar – Cascade Family Learning Society, Chennai
Cascade Montessori was started in January 2011 in Chennai with just two children, as their parents wanted something different from a traditional school. Later, the name of the school began to spread and more kids started joining. The motive behind starting the school was to help children to learn freely without fear. The parents help as volunteers and impart their learning to their children and/or other children in the society. The school is not a profit organization and has various environments for different age groups.
Vidya Shankar started the Education space after completing her AMI Montessori Elementary Diploma.
According to her, the salient features of Montessori education are:
· Helping the natural development of the human being
· Allowing children to learn at their own pace and follow their own individual interest
· Using materials prepared for the specific purpose,
children learn by themselves
· Active participation from the children
· Physical exploration and cognition are linked for learning
· Free to move around and talk without disturbing others
· Collaboration of teachers with children
· Motivation by reward for development
· Developing self-discipline
· No time limitation for children to work on any project
About Personalized Learning
· Vidya Shankar points out that every child has different learning track.
· Group lessons are given for older children
· Smaller children repeat the presentations given to them to perfect their understanding.
· Parents encouraged to provide nature-based learning at home
· Well trained parents and other resource persons to provide world class curriculum
· Without any fear for assessments, children aspire to learn more
· Helping them to do research on topics beyond their ages and have confidence to appear in any exams that are essential for higher educational needs.
· Children trained with timed tests from the age of 13 when they become aware of relevance of exams
Language and Assessment
· Vidya Shankar says that children can learn more than 3 languages. So parents who are proficient in languages come to teach Tamil and Hindi.
· Children are also exposed to languages such as Sanskrit, French, and Telugu
· Assessments based on continuous observation of the work
· After the age of 13, children do timed tests
· Question papers of earlier years chosen for board exams worked on
Other Vital Advantages
· Children get sports and community cooking sessions twice a week, carpentry, gardening, art, and documentary film watching once a week. Pottery twice a month as extracurricular activities
· 20:1 is the student teacher ratio and each class 20 children maximum.
· Fee structure varies from Rs. 45,000 – Rs. 85,000 a year which includes everything such as essential books and stationery
· The school has provision to accommodate one or two once in a few years but does not have any special facility to have therapy type of settings.
· When parents volunteer to help the child, such special children can be taken if the child feels comfortable in the school.
· Self-discipline is emphasized upon the children and when there is any deviation, children and parents are spoken to about practising at home to help children settle into a good learning routine
Vidya Shankar says that though alternate schooling is not yet very popular in India, anybody who is into this path is quite successful as humans independent and socially conscious. The productive and creative quality of life they lead will be significant.
She concludes that parents have all the power to change the children and their education and points out our children have surprised their families with their compassion, academic learning, grace and courtesy besides social consciousness.
For more information, please visit: http://cascadefls.org/
Cascade Family Learning Society
7/9 Sriram Nagar Main Road,
Chennai 600 041, India.