A Parent’s Take on Online Learning at Anthea Montessori

One month into online teaching has given us perspective on how flexibility is the name of the game. There is this term in the education world known as cognitive flexibility and this has become most relevant in these times. We are very happy to have successfully taken an experiential pedagogy online, while ensuring that the sanctity of the principles is maintained, without diluting the pedagogy or its essence. The outpouring of support from many Anthea parents via emails, phone calls and cards by your children has been humbling. This has however played a huge role to boost the morale of the teachers who have truly gone above and beyond their call of duty! Here is one such note from a Serenity parent, Ramya. This letter touched us with its empathy, and inspired us to come back stronger than ever. 😊

“Dear teachers,

As we wrapped up one month of online classes, I have been meaning to send a short note of thanks and congratulate the teachers for not only just managing through this unexpected challenge but also thriving in it. Just like any other parent, I was skeptical about how online learning will play out esp. in the context of Montessori, whether a 40-minute class per day be sufficient, how will it be different from just printing some worksheets online and making her practice. But as day after day unfolded and both of us got into groove, I have begun to realize how meticulously this has been planned putting in so much of thought.

While working with her through the material and seeing the contrast of work between the last month and this, I realized how it was chosen to introduce the concepts methodically and gradually increasing the complexity by adding in a mix of novelty and repetition. I can’t stop gloating to my friends about the hard work you have been putting day-after-day in culling topics, sharing material for the week in advance, rotating the login details, recording the sessions, observing the children, following through the pictures uploaded and enquiring about the same in the class and with us in the conf calls. All of this effort multiplied for every batch while taking care of your own homes is absolutely incredible.

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to you all for bringing some sense of normality and something to look forward to for my child in these gloomy times. Wishing all the health and happiness for you and your family.”

Takeaways from Elementary’s First Overnight Field Trip

The Elementary class’ year began with an overnight trip to Visakhapatnam. A group of 10 children comprising of 6 to 11 year olds were invited on this excursion for 4 days and 5 nights. The children were carefully chosen based on how they had responded to being away from their parents at sleepovers, how much impulse control they exhibited on a daily basis (particularly on field trips), and several other factors. The final group of 10 were children whom we felt absolutely confident taking on an extended trip!

While the location and final itinerary were chosen by the adults due to time constraints, these children weighed in on all the initial research. They decided on logistics such as transportation after comparing costs. They decided which accommodation options made economic sense, and called to check for availability. They also made follow-up calls to confirm our itinerary with experts such as heritage walk guides. Needless to say, their calls helped charm the group’s way into several discounts and freebies 🙂


As we set off on day one, there was a lot of excitement. Most of the children had never been on a local train before, let alone in a sleeper class berth. They jumped from one berth to the other, shouted across compartments, and had a lot of fun discovering how the lights switched on and off. They also commented loudly on what they would and would not eat, and banged the toilet door for fun. Needless to say, this did not go over well with the other passengers on the train. They were repeatedly reminded, collectively as well as individually, to be considerate. There wasn’t too much of an impact, perhaps because the children believed there would be no real consequences to their actions beyond some adults on the train telling them off.

However, as we told them, if they weren’t respecting our instructions in a closed safe space, there was no guarantee that they would listen to us when we were out on the road either. For the sake of their own safety, we could not take them out unless we saw signs that they could consistently follow instructions. We could not take them out until they showed us that they were capable of awareness of the people around them. For the first half day that we were in Vizag, all we did was remain indoors at the house where we were staying. We waited until the children demonstrated courtesy, and a respect for property as well as the people around them.


After this, six children who displayed this behaviour were invited to go on a cable car ride and visit Kailasagiri. They had a gala time… and they remembered to be considerate of the group! The children left behind were very surprised that their less-than-desirable behaviour had actual outcomes. When they saw that all the adults on the trip were consistently on the same page, and that there would be no wiggle room, they started to live up to our expectations too. The entire group visited Visakha museum, where they learned a lot about India’s naval history. At the end of the day, several of them mentioned it was the first time that they had been solely responsible for their own belongings (including re-packing or separating used clothes). They were clearly eager for the opportunity to demontrate their maturity 🙂


Day two began with an early morning drive to Thottlakonda, a BC-era Buddhist site. We were fortunate to be walked around by Ms. Jayashree, a heritage guide, who told us fascinating stories about the place, and Buddhist rituals. Chanting at the same spot where Buddhists had centuries ago, was goosebump-inducing. After a picnic-style breakfast, we took a long drive down to Yarada Beach. Once again, the children whom we believed could not be trusted in open spaces yet were asked to remain in the car and practice being mindful until they could join us. We were very happy to note that the children who could go to the beach still opted to stay back and coach the remaining children! There was already a strong sense of community within the group, where they wanted everyone to be able to join in. When they were ready, we had a fantastic few hours playing together in the waves. We then visited the submarine museum and aircraft museum in the city before winding up with a delicious home-cooked dinner.


We wanted to camp overnight at Arakku Valley on day three, but bus transportation had been stopped due to local tensions. We quickly formed an alternate plan and took the children to Kambalakonda, a wildlife sanctuary closeby. The adventure park there let them zipline, do a sky walk, and much more. Again, they were very empathetic to each other’s needs, and, by now, none of them were saying, “I want this,” or “Can you buy me this?” Rather, they were all aware that the group’s plan superceded any individual child’s urges, and that any decisions we made would have to be made as a group. They were also very aware of budgets, safety, and the need to thank people for their help. We drove back to our house with stops at the Ramanarayanam temple and Vijayanagaram fort nearby.


On our final day in Vizag, we visited Ms. Lata’s horseback riding school in the morning. She graciously invited the children to participate in all the work at the stables rather than merely enjoying a joyride. As they mucked out stalls and helped feed the horses, the children spent some time thinking about how animals have a lot of qualities which human beings would do well to emulate. Sitting in a circle in the mud, out in the open, they discussed the importance of treating even the smallest creature with care. We couldn’t help but marvel at how far these children had come since that first night on the train – they were now capable of not just putting up with unfamiliar experiences, but actually open to them!


We took them out for lunch to a local restaurant and ordered ragi mudde. To our delight, and the children’s surprise, quite a few wanted seconds! Those who didn’t had the will power not to remark disparagingly on what anyone else was eating, or to demand an alterative. They were all eating vegetables without complaint (one of the children said it wasn’t until this trip that he had been made to eat them!) and they even walked through Vizag’s well-known fish market later in the day without making any insensitive remarks about the smells or sights.

We wound up our trip with another visit to Visakha museum, where we spent time studying the human history display. The older children helped the younger ones read signs, or paraphrased for them. When we boarded the train back, neither us nor the children wanted to go back home! It had been a lovely excursion, with lots of learning for the group. We look forward to more adventures next January.

Helping Children Acquire a Second Language


Many of our native languages are getting lost in urban India. As nuclear families and the workplace both encourage conversations in English, we often hear parents wondering how they can help their children acquire other languages.

Children are able to absorb language from their environment and easily learn how to speak, read and write if language in its various forms is present in their environment during the period of the Absorbent Mind (Montessori, 1949).

All of us would have observed how easily young children acquire language and build vocabulary. Children are born with an inbuilt inclination to imbibe language and communicate with others. From birth until the age of three, children unconsciously take in stimuli from their environment and shape themselves according to what they are exposed to. Language, too, seems to develop intuitively – the child is born with the ‘inctinct to decipher and acquire the language of their chulture’ (Chomsky, 2000).



A child, therefore, has the best chance of becoming bilingual if they are introduced to additional languages as early as possible, during this sensitive period for language development. Further, unlike adults, who may have difficulty learning a second language, or say that one language is more difficult than another, a child in the sensitive period for language acquisition acquires multiple languages at the same time with equal ease.

Here are some of the most important things you can do to support your child acquiring a second language at home:

* Everyday phrases like “hello” and “goodbye” can be easily incorporated into the child’s day. Other repetitive commands like “come,” “go,” “give,” can also be introduced; first in a language the child is comfortable with and then repeated in the target language which you wish the child to acquire.

* Songs and poetry are another way to get children excited about speaking a new language. Daily repetition of these provide much needed practice.

* The mind remembers what the hand does. By incorporating movement into your multi-lingual instructions, you allow children to act out verbs like jump, run, skip, dance, sit, etc. The next step would be to add adjectives and adverbs for variety (“Jump quickly,” “Jump quietly,” etc.) Prepositions can add to the fun: “Jump quietly around the green chair,” and so on. This way, words are being layered on in a new language, in context; and the physical movemements will help solidify the words in the child’s memory.

* Most importantly, for the best results, remember not to restrict language learning to a specific time or class. The best way for a child to learn a new language is if its alive in their environment, and they can hear it constantly. Let them hear conversations with rich vocabulary in different languages. Research shows the television is an unacceptable substitute for in-person learning, because children acquire language when they are engaged in a two-way conversation.

It may take time and consistency, but we are confident your children will soon start responding to you in different languages!

Modeling Montessori Behaviour in the Home

The child watches everything around him from birth. Anything we do and say gets locked away in their memory, indiscriminately. In her book, The Child in the Family, (1956) Montessori makes this point very clearly:

The child is sensitive and impressionable to such a degree that the adult ought to monitor everything he says and does, for everything is literally engraved in the child’s mind. (p 40)Continue reading

Food For Thought: Workshop Summary by Ms. Suchitra Raghunathan


Food is one area most dear to parents and one that evokes the most emotional reaction! The note below is a summary of a talk by Ms. Rukmini Ramachandran, the director of Navadisha Montessori Foundation, Chennai. 

Ms.R spoke about how food is a very fundamental need and is extremely binding as a culture. Food has a larger reach than just a physical need. It has a whole spiritual angle to it. Food is used as a sign of friendship or rejecting food as a sign of anger! Despite this being so fundamental a need, she said that the most common question she has come across is that “My child does not eat”.


She gave an analogy of how an amoeba, a single-celled organism can find it’s way to food… there is no way an “intelligent” human being will ever go hungry without eating. She said in utero, the child gets nutrients automatically, but from the moment of birth, the child has to make an effort to eat independently. At about 6 months of age, when the child is just beginning to eat solids, we expect the transition to be quick, easy and fuss-free! 

A typical reaction of a child that is given a new food is to spit it out. We are very quick to label this child stubborn, naughty etc. The child is merely expressing his unfamiliarity with a new taste by this action as he cannot speak yet! We as adults have a hard time transitioning to a new city and its food but expect a quick transition from this child who is in the process of developing a taste, familiarizing himself/herself with different textures and is still in the process constructing himself/herself.


She spoke of how eating food is a sensory delight! We eat with our ears, eyes, nose, touch. Despite food involving all senses, what many of us tend to do is to very cleverly trick the child, by mashing all the vegetables that he does not like into the basic food so that the nutrients go into the child! Just because he spat it out the first few times, we have tricked him into eating it. So she dissuaded us from the practice and encouraged us to give the child clear consistent limits and be consistent in trying out new foods. 

She insisted that it is a committed practice and takes time and patience. She added that all this concern stems from the parents’ fear and love for the child which translates into unintended violence to the child. She was quite categorical in terming it as a brutal practice where we force the child to eat against their wishes because we perceive hunger as a bad thing! She dissuaded the practice of mini snack boxes and encouraged parents to allow children to let their children feel hunger! Read more from her talk here.

She said it was our sole duty to help the child become independent and help children to be able to eat independently with dignity. She pointed out the alarming culture where we are increasingly making food a chore and tying the children up physically in many ways (arms held down, high chairs with belts, distracting in front of media, etc.)and in the process take away his dignity because we as adults have more power over the child.

She pointed out that the size of a child’s tummy is as big as his fist and to feel full it needs only half of that to be full!!!! So the portion sizes that we seem to dole out to our children is unacceptable! Though the stomach is elastic, like a rubber band which snaps when extended too much, it is best that we do not engage in this practice of overfeeding the child. We should respect a child’s cue and honor it.


She said we as a society need to move away from this brutality and make food more enjoyable. Food is social and this process starts from as early as 6 months of age! She asked to involve all children to eat together as a family, happily. The child absorbs the language, the movement of how to eat independently, social interactions and makes it a part of his personality. We need to accept his choices and the choices are not about whether to eat or not, rather what and how much to eat and how quickly to eat! 

So many of our children have gone off track in this generation because we as a society have used force and coercion as a binding factor. The child no longer has a loving relationship with food and is misguided because he cannot judge for himself how much to eat! So if we are to bring this child back on track with a loving relationship with food as it was meant to be, we need to offer respectful parenting with dignity to the child. As a child gets older and closer to the second plane of development, we encourage the child to eat within a limited time to help facilitate the transition to the higher grades. Needless to say, this is done with adequate preparation as with any transition.

Bon appetit!

Vacations and the Montessori Child

Remember the saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation!” While school breaks may seem overwhelming for the adult, children savour the leisurely period of time in which they can play, rest and unhurriedly make their choices. Vacations don’t have to mean expensive trips or extravagant adventures. Breaks from school can be a great opportunity to take a breath, unwind and relax. Whether you choose to travel or not, simple time together, connecting as a family, can be rejuvenating. Here are a few of our ideas for school breaks with your child.Continue reading

Helping Your Child Return to School After the Holidays

Vacations invariably mean changes in your daily routine. Eating habits change, schedules change… and because children are still practicing skills like resilience and flexibility, they may not be ready to go back to school without a little help from the adult’s side. Here’s how you can support your child as they return to school after a vacation.

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Anthea Study Circle: August, 2019

Anthea Montessori invites parents to a voluntary monthly Study Circle where we discuss a few chapters from books relevant to parenting and Montessori education. We understand it may not be possible for all parents to attend, so we thought we’d begin summarizing the minutes.

Nine parents, including one new entrant to the Study Circle, met on 28th August to discuss chapters 4-9 from the book Creative Development in the Child, Vol 1. We briefly discussed the need for more new parents to hear ideas like the ones discussed in the book – possibly at the pregnancy stage itself, so that they are truly prepared for having a child.Continue reading