Borneo, Montessori Kindergarten

Establishing New Montessori Kindergartens

24 Feb , 2016  

What would a culturally relevant Christian lifestyle look like in the rain forests of Borneo? This question has been one that the Nehemia Team has been asking for a long time now. One answer that we have found and have put into action for three years now, is the development and ongoing support of kindergartens in isolated villages in the jungles of Borneo. This is done by training teachers and helpers, as well as supplying educational and play materials to the kindergartens (at a cost of about 500 euros per kindergarten). In these kindergartens, children learn the Montessori way to read, write and count to 10. They learn that they are valuable and loved by God. Individual gifts and abilities are identified and developed. The teacher trainees have either already started a kindergarten, or are planning to do so shortly. The team of trainers this time, alongside Wolfgang and Heidi Oelschlegel and Aran Tan from Kuching, were Elke Feld and Margund Wuchterl from the Nehemia Team in Nürnberg. They set off from Kuching with a carload of kindergarten resources for six kindergartens and enough canisters of extra fuel to fill the tank twice. As expected, in Melingkat, the first village, the team met with six teachers from three villages, as well as two young pastors who happened to join in on the training. The kindergarten in Melingkat, which has been operating for two years, serves as an ideal model of the “new Montessori method”, so the trainers could demonstrate very practically how the method works. The children patiently endured the teaching efforts of the trainees and their attempts to emulate what was modelled to them.

After three days the team moved on to Semitau where the first training module for seven current and/or future teachers from three kindergartens began. So that they could better visualise a Montessori classroom and its methods, there were videos of the kindergarten in Melingkat. The four-year-old son of one participant joined in spontaneously as Aran’s model student for an afternoon. He sat beside her as she demonstrated the resources, allowing himself to be led exactly according to the theory, then carrying on independently in total concentration – a perfect example and happy timing! Over the next 12 to 18 months, three more training sessions are planned. The Nehemia Team is now caring for teachers and kindergartens in ten remote villages in the Indonesian part of Borneo. With her 27 years of work as supervisory kindergarten instructor, Aran Tan has a wealth of experience, and Wolfgang has got his Montessori diploma in the meantime as well. Less than 10% of the villages of West Kalimantan have a kindergarten. You could help change that with your financial support!

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