This was the speech I made at the Parents day celebrations at my children's school - meant every word of it too :)
Hi Everyone, I'm Aparna - mother of Damita and Shehan and I'm here to share my experience as a Siksha parent. My first memory of Siksha is in 2007 Apr when Damita was not even 2 years old, and we were looking for a place where she would not be lost in the crowd and would be looked after well. Well both those thoughts have definitely been achieved much beyond our expectations!
I remember pestering Neetha and Harish to take Damita at 2 years itself, but since that was not possible for Montessori she finally joined at 2 years 5 months. Atlast ! (I felt because both she and I had been going bonkers trying to keep her creatively occupied at home) ! :) The child that joined Siksha knew only a few basic words of english, so much so that I worriedly told Neetha that she might need to speak tamil to communicate with her. And now the same Damita talks about a hundred words a minute and if you ask her to reply in Tamil she’ll say "I don't know Tamil!!" :). She has grown to enjoy school so much that I can hurry her up in the morning by saying "I won't take you to school if you don't get ready on time!". She has always had a great relationship with her Geethanjali aunty who has been a big reason for her enjoying her time at Siksha so much! Thank you so much Geethanjali aunty!
I wanted to mention a couple of things in particular, which are a concern for all Montessori children's parents. The first is about Phonetics. I think this concept is now a lot better known than it was even 3 years back when I heard of it mostly through Damita. But still as parents when we listen to our child saying "a" "buh" "kuh" instead of "a" "b" "c" it almost sounds like they're speaking a foreign language! Not to mention the pressure from all quarters for children to know to recite “ABC” !! But once we get over those initial apprehensions and jump into the process, maybe read up a little about it, or just learn along with your child - it can be a wonderful experience. I had such great fun with it - and because I also wanted to encourage a love of reading in Damita - as soon as she showed an interest in words printed in the newspaper or on magazine covers, we spent a lot of time figuring out the rules of reading using phonetics and I am so proud that Damita is a star reader now!
The other concern that is the biggest thing on our minds is about school admissions. I think this leads to a lot of people pulling out children after just a year or a few months of the Montessori program. But as we have seen with Damita, in 1 year the child has just about started getting the benefits of the Montessori method. As they grow into the second and third years, that is when they get into more complicated concepts in English and Mathematics, and you fill find them learning about them in such interesting ways. Damita spoke of Addition strip board and Rabbits jumping and so many more like that that it just made me wish I had learnt things that way. I definitely never thought children could understand multiplication with such ease! We have reached a stage that I hardly have to help Damita with her homework except when I want to keep track of what she is doing :). Of course there are days when I have to nag her to do it, but what's the fun of being a child without moments like that :). And more and more from a primary school's point of view, I think they are becoming much more aware of the Montessori method and are becoming open to taking children at the 1st std level. We found quite a few options when we looked around, and in a couple more years I'm sure there'll be even more!
And let me not forget to mention the extended session through which the children get exposure to a classroom (with benches and blackboard) kind of environment, and it also makes the parents get creative in packing their lunches as they start having them at school ;).
Damita has been in Siksha for 3+ years now - she joined in Nov 2007 - and we have had no second thoughts about our decision to choose this school. We have also cemented our relationship with Siksha further by admitting our son Shehan in July this year. He also has grown to love his Vini aunty and is enjoying going to school and I'm glad that the experience will continue for him for the next 3 years !! I would like to thank Neetha, Harish, Pratibha, Geethanjali, Vinaya and all the other aunties and also the help staff of Siksha for our wonderful years with Damita and wish you all the vert best for all your future aspirations for the school. Thank you!