#EdWed Educational Wednesday The Legacy of Maria Montessori: A Pioneer in Education

Maria Montessori was a visionary in the field of education, whose innovative methods transformed the way children learn and develop. Born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle, Italy, Montessori broke through societal barriers to become one of the first female physicians in Italy and later, a globally renowned educator. Her legacy endures through the Montessori Method, an educational approach that emphasizes independence, hands-on learning, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development.

Early Life and Education

Montessori’s early life was marked by determination and resilience. At a time when women’s roles were largely confined to the domestic sphere, she pursued higher education with unwavering resolve. In 1896, she graduated from the University of Rome with a degree in medicine. She became one of the first women in Italy to do so. Her medical background provided a scientific foundation for her later work in education.

The Birth of the Montessori Method

Montessori’s journey into education began in 1907, when she opened the first “Casa dei Bambini” or “Children’s House” in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. Here, she applied her scientific observations of children to create an environment that nurtured their natural curiosity and love of learning. The Montessori Method was born from these observations, emphasizing self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play.

Key principles of the Montessori Method include:

  • Child-Centered Learning: Montessori classrooms are designed to cater to the developmental needs and interests of each child. Children are free to choose activities that intrigue them, fostering a love of learning.
  • Prepared Environment: The classroom environment is meticulously arranged with materials that encourage exploration and discovery. This environment supports the child’s independence and ability to engage in meaningful work.
  • Mixed-Age Classrooms: Montessori classrooms typically group children of different ages together. This promotes peer learning, with older children serving as mentors and younger children finding inspiration in their peers.
  • Hands-On Learning: Montessori materials are tactile and concrete, helping children to understand abstract concepts through physical manipulation.

Global Impact and Recognition

Maria Montessori’s work gained international recognition, and by the 1920s, Montessori schools were established across Europe and North America. She traveled extensively, lecturing and training teachers in the Montessori Method. Despite facing political challenges, including the closure of many Montessori schools in Italy under Mussolini’s regime, her educational philosophy continued to spread worldwide.

Montessori’s impact extended beyond the classroom. She was a passionate advocate for peace and believed that education was the key to creating a more harmonious world. Her later works, such as “Education and Peace,” reflect her commitment to nurturing the whole child and fostering a global community based on mutual respect and understanding.

Lasting Legacy

Maria Montessori passed away on May 6, 1952, but her legacy lives on. Today, thousands of Montessori schools operate globally, from preschools to high schools, continuing to implement her innovative educational approach. The Montessori Method has influenced mainstream education. It has contributed to a greater understanding of child development and the importance of a child-centered approach to learning.

In conclusion, Maria Montessori was a pioneering educator whose work reshaped our understanding of how children learn. Her method, grounded in scientific observation and respect for the child, continues to inspire educators and parents around the world. As we look to the future of education, Montessori’s vision of nurturing independent, curious, and compassionate individuals remains as relevant as ever.

Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica Vol. 3 – Inspiring Change: Stories from Volunteers with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

What better way to understand the transformative power of volunteering than by hearing the stories of those who have experienced it firsthand? Volunteers with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation have countless tales of inspiration, resilience, and the profound impact of their service with one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. This for both themselves and the communities they’ve served.

“La Carpio taught me that there is poverty in paradise. If you can find the good or make it, you’ll be happy.” – Rowan

English Classes

Take, for example, Sarah, a volunteer from the United States who spent a summer teaching English in a rural Costa Rican village. Despite initially feeling nervous about her ability to connect with her students, Sarah was amazed by their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Through her dedication and passion for teaching, she not only helped her students improve their English skills but also formed deep bonds with them that she cherishes to this day.

Healthcare

Then there’s Dave, a healthcare volunteer who traveled from Utah to provide medical assistance in underserved communities. Witnessing the lack of access to basic healthcare services firsthand, Javier was inspired to do everything in his power to make a difference. From conducting health screenings to providing education on preventive care, he helped improve the health and well-being of countless individuals and families, leaving a lasting legacy of compassion and care.

I am grateful to have clean running water.” – Oscar 

Environment

And let’s not forget about Megan, an environmental enthusiast who volunteered with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation to participate in animal and forest conservation. Through her efforts, she helped restore habitats, protect endangered species, and combat deforestation—a critical issue facing Costa Rica’s delicate ecosystems. Maria’s dedication to environmental conservation not only had a positive impact on the environment but also inspired others to take action and become stewards of the land.

“Getting rid of my phone actually gave me more energy.” – Lucas

These are just a few of the countless stories of inspiration and impact that emerge from volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Each volunteer brings their own unique skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table, yet they all share a common goal: to make a positive difference in the world and leave the communities they serve better than they found them. Their stories serve as a testament to the power of volunteerism to transform lives, build connections, and create a brighter future for all.

Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica Vol. 2 – Volunteering Opportunities with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

Making an Impact in Costa Rica

Unlock opportunities to create lasting change with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Whether you’re passionate about education, healthcare, environmental conservation, or community development, there are a variety of volunteer programs that are some of the best places to visit in Costa Rica.

“This trip has definitely changed my life and others forever” – Walker L. 

Education

For those interested in education, volunteering with the CRHF provides the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and adults alike. Whether you’re teaching English, leading workshops on STEM subjects, or providing academic support to students, you’ll play a crucial role in expanding access to quality education and empowering individuals to reach their full potential.

Health

If healthcare is your passion, consider volunteering with medical professionals to provide essential services to underserved communities. From conducting health screenings to assisting with medical outreach programs, your efforts can make a tangible difference in improving access to healthcare and promoting community well-being.

Environment

Environmental enthusiasts can join conservation projects aimed at protecting Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity and natural resources. Whether you’re planting trees, working with wildlife populations, or participating in beach cleanups, you’ll contribute to the preservation of the country’s stunning natural landscapes and promote sustainable practices for future generations.

Sustainable Development

For those interested in community development, there are opportunities to participate in projects that address pressing social issues such as poverty, housing insecurity, and food insecurity. From building homes for families in need to supporting local entrepreneurs through microfinance initiatives, your efforts can help create a more equitable and inclusive society for all Costa Ricans.

No matter your area of interest, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica is volunteering with the CRHF. This offers a unique opportunity to make a meaningful impact while immersing yourself in the beauty and culture of Costa Rica. So why wait? Join us in our mission to create positive change and embrace Pura Vida through volunteerism today.

#EdWed Education Wednesday – Learning in Circles: A Cornerstone of Montessori Education

In the diverse world of education models, the Montessori approach stands out for its unique emphasis on fostering independence, curiosity, and a love for learning in children. One of the distinctive features of this model is the concept of “learning in circles,” a practice that nurtures community, collaboration, and holistic development.

The Concept of Learning in Circles

At its core, learning in circles involves bringing students together in a physical circle to engage in discussions, activities, and collaborative learning experiences. This arrangement symbolizes equality, unity, and inclusion, eliminating the hierarchical structure often found in traditional classrooms where the teacher is the focal point.

Origins and Philosophy

Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori education method, believed that children thrive in environments where they feel part of a community. Learning in circles reflects her philosophy that education should be child-centered, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual respect among students.

Benefits of Learning in Circles

1.⁠ ⁠Enhanced Communication Skills:

2.⁠ ⁠Fostering Collaboration:

  • Circles create a cooperative learning environment where students can work together on projects, solve problems collectively, and support each other’s learning journeys. This teamwork builds social skills and a sense of community.

3.⁠ ⁠Encouraging Independence and Responsibility:

  • With the teacher acting more as a guide than a lecturer, students in a circle take more ownership of their learning. They learn to manage discussions, take turns, and respect diverse viewpoints, fostering independence and self-discipline.

4.⁠ ⁠Creating a Safe Learning Environment:

  • The physical arrangement of a circle helps to create a safe and inclusive space where students feel comfortable expressing themselves. This psychological safety is crucial for effective learning and personal growth.

5.⁠ ⁠Holistic Development:

  • Learning in circles supports the Montessori aim of educating the whole child—intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. Activities are often designed to engage multiple senses and encourage movement, aligning with the Montessori principle of hands-on, experiential learning.

Practical Applications in the Montessori Classroom

In a Montessori classroom, circle time can be used for a variety of purposes:

  • Morning Meetings: Starting the day with a circle meeting to set intentions, discuss plans, and build community.
  • Storytelling and Discussions: Sharing stories, books, and engaging in thoughtful discussions to enhance comprehension and critical thinking.
  • Group Activities: Conducting science experiments, art projects, or group games that require cooperation and shared problem-solving.
  • Reflection and Mindfulness: Ending the day with a circle to reflect on learning experiences, share achievements, and practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques.

Challenges and Considerations

While the benefits of learning in circles are significant, educators must navigate certain challenges:

  • Managing Diverse Participation: Ensuring that all students feel comfortable and are encouraged to participate can be challenging, particularly in larger groups or with shy children.
  • Balancing Guidance and Freedom: Teachers must skillfully balance guiding discussions and allowing children the freedom to explore ideas independently.
  • Adapting to Individual Needs: Recognizing and accommodating the diverse learning styles and needs of each child within the group setting is essential for the approach to be effective.

Conclusion

Learning in circles is more than just a physical arrangement; it is a reflection of the Montessori commitment to creating inclusive, collaborative, and dynamic learning environments. By emphasizing equality, respect, and community, this practice helps cultivate confident, independent, and socially adept learners. As educators and parents explore the benefits of this approach, they contribute to a broader understanding of what it means to educate the whole child, preparing them not just for academic success, but for life.

By embracing the principles of learning in circles, the Montessori model continues to inspire a more holistic, child-centered approach to education. This nurtures the potential within every student and fosters a lifelong love of learning.

TBT ThrowBackThursday – La Promesa

The year was 1997, the CRHF had just been legally founded in Santa Ana. Our volunteer work was centered in this area of Costa Rica. Down the street from the Foundation/Educational Resource Center was a squatter community of around eighty families. (more on the ERC in future posts)

The Beginnings

We mainly focused our volunteer work in La Promesa with single women heads of household, some of who were Nicaraguan refugees. The houses were all made of tin and some wood with dirt floors.

This is when our bunkbed program started with the Boy Scouts of CR. We also had our first theatre presentation called “Your Home Is Where Your Heart Is”

Reallocation

After more than 4 years of squatting the land, the government institutions were able to come to a peaceful resolution and reallocate the community to a low-income housing development. The CRHF served as a mediator and was able to help with the transition.

The houses the government agencies built are a simple but durable design made of prefabricated concrete. The CRHF, with the help of numerous volunteers helped paint and beautify the community, including gardening and cleaning-ups.

Right Action

In 2003 we began the construction of a two-story community center (seen in the picture) which culminated in 2005. This in part thanks to the efforts of national and international donors and volunteers. This center served as one of our first Family Well-Being Centers (FWBC). This is a model we have replicated throughout some of the most impoverished and marginalized communities in Costa Rica.

The community as a whole then reached what our Poverty Reduction Model of Development (PREMDEV) would call a level of Right Action. This means we were no longer needed as they were able to become self-sufficient in a sustainable way. By that time we had already began working in La Carpio and with children living on the street.

Transparency

You can read more in the 2005 year end report, the FWBC’s and the PREMDEV on the CRHF.org website. By clicking on the magnifying glass, you can search for this information using keywords such as “Family well being” or “La Promesa”.

As part of our transparency pillar, we try to make all our projects and financial reports as available as possible. Financial reports are available upon request. Please consider volunteering with the CRHF and for your donations to nonprofits in Costa Rica. Click here to donate or below for paypal. Thank You For Sharing Our Dream!

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Best Places to Go Costa Rica – Volunteer While Enjoying Paradise

We are publishing a series of 10 blog posts to highlight one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, through volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. This is a summary of the 10 posts we will be posting over the next few weeks. We hope you enjoy reading this while you serach for the best places to travel in Costa Rica.

Blog Post 1: “Discovering Costa Rica Through Volunteering: A Journey with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Embark on a transformative journey through Costa Rica while making a meaningful difference with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Explore the country’s breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture as you volunteer your time and skills to empower local communities. From teaching English to building sustainable infrastructure, discover the true essence of Pura Vida through service and connection.


Blog Post 2: “Making an Impact: Volunteering Opportunities with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Unlock opportunities to create lasting change with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Whether you’re passionate about education, healthcare, or environmental conservation, there’s a volunteer program tailored to your interests and skills. Dive into hands-on projects, collaborate with local communities, and leave a legacy of hope and empowerment in the places you visit.


Blog Post 3: “Inspiring Change: Stories from Volunteers with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Gain insight into the life-changing experiences of volunteers who have worked with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. From teaching children in rural schools to building homes for families in need, hear firsthand accounts of the impact volunteers have made on communities across Costa Rica. Be inspired by their stories of compassion, resilience, and the power of collective action.


Blog Post 4: “A Day in the Life: Volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Step into the shoes of a volunteer and experience a typical day with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. From sunrise hikes through lush rainforests to afternoon sessions teaching English or constructing community infrastructure, each day is filled with meaningful activities that contribute to positive change. Discover the joy of service and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Costa Rican culture.


Blog Post 5: “Building Bridges: Connecting with Costa Rican Communities Through Volunteering”

Forge deep connections with local communities as you volunteer with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Through shared experiences and collaborative projects, break down barriers and build bridges of understanding and empathy. Whether you’re working side by side with community members or sharing meals and stories together, volunteering offers a unique opportunity to form lifelong bonds and create positive change.


Blog Post 6: “Empowering Futures: Education and Volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Education is a powerful tool for empowerment, and with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, you can make a difference in the lives of children and adults alike. Join efforts to improve access to quality education, teach essential skills, and ignite a passion for learning in communities throughout Costa Rica. Through education and volunteering, you can help shape brighter futures for generations to come.


Blog Post 7: “Sustainable Development: Environmental Conservation with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Protecting Costa Rica’s natural beauty is certainly essential for the well-being of both its people and its ecosystems. Join hands with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation to participate in conservation projects that preserve biodiversity, restore habitats, and promote sustainable practices. From reforestation initiatives to wildlife enrichment programs, your efforts will contribute to a greener, healthier planet for future generations.


Blog Post 8: “Health and Wellness: Promoting Community Well-Being with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, and with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, you can help improve the well-being of communities in need. Volunteer alongside medical professionals, participate in health education initiatives, and provide essential services to underserved populations. Together, we can work towards a healthier, happier Costa Rica for all.


Blog Post 9: “Cultural Immersion: Exploring Costa Rica Through Volunteering and Community Engagement”

Experience the rich tapestry of Costa Rican culture through immersive volunteer experiences with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. From learning traditional dances to participating in local festivals, volunteering offers a unique opportunity to engage with the vibrant traditions and customs of Costa Rica. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Pura Vida as you make a meaningful impact on the communities you serve.


Blog Post 10: “Continuing the Journey: Sustainable Impact and Reflections on Volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

As your volunteer journey with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation comes to a close, take time to reflect on the impact you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned. Celebrate the connections you’ve formed, the challenges you’ve overcome, and the lives you’ve touched along the way. And remember, your journey doesn’t end here—carry the spirit of service with you wherever you go, and continue to make a positive impact in the world, one community at a time.

Alcides Goes Home

And yet another of our collaborators is heading off. This time it is Alcides going home to Nicaragua to see his ill mother and his graduating son. I see him so strong and healthy and well dressed and confident. So much thanks to our gracious benefactor Howard, who believed in him. Well done to all of us.

It’s just like sending your children out into the world…it is sad, exciting, scary and very pride filled . Elvis, Bismark, Henry, Yader, each has his story and each has grown so healthy under our caring watch.

Go well my friend.

#EdWed – Education Wednesday and Dia del Trabajador in Costa Rica

#EdWed. This week we are highlighting Costa Rican Labor Day via the teaching in our Family Well-Being Centers. We are very grateful for the group of collaborators, volunteers and teachers who have joined us over the years to serve the populations we work with. Feliz Dia del Trabajador!

Montessori education is renowned for its unique approach to nurturing children’s holistic development. At the heart of this approach are the four primary goals that Montessori teachers strive to achieve:

Fostering Independence

Montessori teachers aim to cultivate independence in their students by providing an environment that encourages self-directed learning and exploration. Through carefully designed materials and activities, children are empowered to make choices, solve problems, and take ownership of their learning journey.

Promoting Self-Discipline

Central to Montessori philosophy is the belief that self-discipline emerges naturally when children are engaged in purposeful activities that align with their interests and developmental needs. Montessori teachers guide students in developing inner discipline by setting clear boundaries, modeling respectful behavior, and encouraging self-regulation.

Cultivating a Love for Learning

Montessori classrooms are vibrant spaces where curiosity is celebrated, and a passion for learning is ignited. Teachers inspire a lifelong love of learning by fostering an environment of joy, wonder, and discovery. They encourage exploration, experimentation, and inquiry, nurturing children’s innate desire to understand the world around them.

Nurturing Social Responsibility

Montessori education places a strong emphasis on the development of social skills and empathy. Teachers guide students in building meaningful connections with their peers and the larger community, fostering values of kindness, cooperation, and respect for diversity. Through collaborative projects, group activities, and opportunities for reflection, Montessori teachers help children develop a sense of social responsibility and global citizenship.

By prioritizing these four goals, Montessori teachers create enriching learning experiences that not only prepare children academically but also equip them with the essential skills and qualities needed to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Centro Modelo and Volunteers’ Farewell

The volunteers’ farewell… All I can think of when I enter our Centro Modelo classroom is the classic children’s song ” Los pollitos dicen pio pio pio cuando tienen hambre cuando tienen frio.” The little chickies say peep peep peep when they are hungry when they are cold.

With their little yellow shirts they do look just like a flock of baby chick’s. They are in constant motion, interacting with each other, curious about everything and absorbing everything in their environment.

We have some good parenting going on too. All the kids are neatly dressed. Freshly bathed and combed. And each one has their own little set of plate, cup and fork and spoon.

Here, they are celebrating the farewell party for our two volunteers, Ali and Quincy. I was so happy to see the delicious and enticing fruit feast prepared by the parents. Each child got to choose the fruits they wanted and amazingly not one plate was empty after snack time.

I felt these kid’s hunger to learn and to creatively seek activities. Their tenderness was so moving. Teacher Marisol is giving these children a wonderful transition from home to the beginnings of school life. We will really miss the kind assistance of the two volunteers. And I’m pretty sure they will miss CRHF too.

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