Kamkeo Kraisoraphong, Ph.D
Kornkaew Montessori School, Thailand
Freedom is one of Dr. Maria Montessori’s (1870-1952) most important findings in early years education. This includes freedom of movement, exploration, social interactions, choice, as well as freedom of interference from others.
The purpose of this paper is to give teachers, school administrators and parents a practical understanding through lesson study, that collaborations in early years immerge when given freedom.
Participants in the lesson study include three school administrators, eight teachers and fifty-four parents.
One-hundred-and-thirty students in mixed-age groups of 2-8 years old were involved in this lesson study. The project spanned over a period of nine weeks in nine thematic summer camp programs during April-May 2017. These included STEAM Camp, Color War Camp, RC Car Camp, Songkran Camp, Harry Potter Camp, Wellness Camp, English Alphabet Camp, Frozen Camp and Music Camp. Through the use of lesson study in these learning communities we hope for the teachers, school administrators and parents to gain a greater understanding of freedom in the early years education and recognize the importance of how freedom enables collaborations among young children.
The results of lesson study came from the analyzation of detailed photos taken of the students working on their projects. The discussions by the teachers and the school administrators during the pre- and post-lessons were meaningful and highly useful for adjustments of the activities prepared for the students. Parents’ collaborations and reflections on the photos of the activities in the School LINE Group after the completion of each activity, were another valuable lesson studied by both the school and the parents. The parents could follow-up each day what their child learned, how they learned, and with whom they learned by seeing the evidence of those lessons in action through the photos. At the same time, the school was able to get feedback from the parents, both from their personal point of view on the activities conducted by the school, and on how the students felt about their activities, friends and teachers.
Lesson studied in this paper include the planning of the themes and activities for the nine summer camp projects, the preparations of materials needed including the trial run of experiments, photos taken of the children during each activity and the relationships with their friends and teachers, the posting and discussion of the photos with the parents in the School LINE Group, the reflection of the parents feedback and comments by the teachers and administrators, and the reviewing/adjusting of activities to be most beneficial for the children.
The results of the project were:
- In a free and relaxing outdoor environment students became motivated, independent and joyful learners.
- In mixed age groupings, where students were given freedom, collaborations among children occurred naturally.
- Children learn best from each other; they became self-motivated, independent, confident, obtained higher self-esteem, and were enthusiastic learners.
To conclude, lesson learned in this Lesson Study Project for the teachers, school administrators and parents was a practical understanding that collaborations in early years immerge naturally when given freedom. Through freedom of movement, exploration, social interactions, choice, as well as freedom from interference from others, children became motivated, independent, confident, obtained higher self-esteem, enthusiastic learner and a joyful learner.