Tag Archives: community service

#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.


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”


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.


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!



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.

Juegos Indígenas – Indigenous Games 2024 Costa Rica

In keeping with our longstanding commitment to indigenous populations, we are sponsoring the initiative of Gamaniel Molina Diaz to co-host the Indigenous Games.

This two day festival and competition invites over 200 indigenous of all ages to try their hand at traditional activities in brotherly competition. There will be bows and arrows, chopping wood, blow guns, rope pulling and others. In addition, the women’s association Kabata Konana will prepare meals all the competitors for the two days.

Visitors from around the world have been invited to participate . Traditional food will be available as will many handmade crafts. The opening and closing ceremonies will be presented by the elders of the community complete with storytelling and ancient chants.

Thanks to the generous donation of the Little Theater Group, CRHF is overseeing the food and housing arrangements for the 200 athletes. The local indigenous women’s group will handle all the preparation of three roasted pigs, local fruits and vegetables, hearty breakfast and comfortable sleeping arrangements.

We thank Supermarket Avenida 10 and their manager Laura Castillo, Florida Ice and Farm for donating water, Barguil mattress company, and Esteban Aguilar for supplying eggs.

Barry and his wife of Pura Vida Hotel have coordinated the visitor invitations, the Ark Botanical Farm and Restaurant provided the video and ARCR, through Martha Rollins is supporting with cash donations.

This will be an epic event and we hope it will be the precursor to the expanded Indigenous International Olympics 2025.

Click Here for the Video

📞Contactos: Gama 8877-0228 o Berni (solo habla inglés) 8701-3411 or CRHF WhatsApp or Cel +(506) 8837-5205


Please consider donating to the CRHF to continue its support of indigenous communities.

Success Stories from the Field #7 – The Saga of Yader

Some of you might remember Yader who came to us in 2018. Fleeing out the back door as the army burst into the front door looking for him. He has been a loyal, kind and conscientious workplace companion.

Last month, after a three month vetting process he legally entered into the US and wound up in Dallas. He was picked up in Dallas airport and dropped off at a studio apartment with an air mattress and some food.

And there he sat . No one came to see him. He ran out of food…he called us…our donor Howard got him some food via Uber(go figure). We began to investigate and suspected a scam. Things got really weird when he got an eviction notice.

So I sent out the word via Facebook and along came Claudia who was part of our peace group in October. She happens to live in Houston and was heading to Dallas the very next day to watch the eclipse.

She happens to speak fluent spanish because she happens to be of Mexican descent. She located Yader and got him all straightened out and then they watched the eclipse together.

He now has had his rent paid, gotten his healthcare card, permission to work and some cash . It seems that his caseworker had slipped up. Anyhow…it helps to have friend in High Places. As we say here ‘Gracias a Dios.’ His America dream is being realized.

Success Stories from the Field #6 – Eyes are the Windows to the World

Content warning – this post discusses suicidal feelings.’

Today, I was walking down the street and this gentleman calls out to me. ” Giselle, do you remember me?” I said” Your eyes”.

He gleefully answered…” six years ago your volunteer group of eye doctors found that I had cataracts. You took me to a clinic and I got treated and was able to see again.

Eye care specialist provide eyeglasses

What no one know at the time was that I was planning on taking my life by hanging myself. You saved my life”. Of course I got a little teary and pulled on the necklace I was wearing . (It had belonged to my mother). The string broke and tiny blue beads flew all over the street.

This man who once had been nearly blind and contemplated suicide, bent over and picked up ever single bead…even those that I couldn’t see because they were so teeny. He said” the hand of God is so with you. He is showing you this truth as I am able to see, find and pick up these little beads of your Mother.”

Indeed I saved his life…and…he taught me something I needed to know.

El Centro de Amigos para la Paz

I had a good meeting with Luis and Marcela yesterday. The thing is, when you get three ticos together for a meet you have to first spend a lot of time reminiscing..better known as gossiping. We wound around the mulberry bush about when the house was built, what famous families lived there…etc.

Out came the old photo albums. And we found pictures of the founders. We even found the original founding papers of the Centro de Amigos para la Paz…CAP.

After consuming some tea and biscuits we got down to business. And did a walkabout the house. I must say I was impressed with how much care had gone into the maintenance of the rooms etc.

So… Karen and Olga joined us and somehow we wound up reconfiguring the whole main room. We unblocked the windows, reorganized the wall hangings and created spaces for different uses. The whole place lit up.

We are a mighty force. And it feels so right. Luis and Marcela were guardedly enthusiastic. But when they saw us actually DO something I think they were quite …astonished.

Anyhow…there is a lot to do. But..we work with resonance and strength and harmony. And so it is. Stay tuned. It is all enfolding as it should.