The Montessori School of Tokyo (MST) was established by co-founders Pete Juds and Mariko Maeda (founders of the Sunshine Montessori school and Little People Montessori schools prior to the inception of MST).
The pair have been in the ‘business’ of nurturing young minds and cultivating children into creative thinkers and socially well adjusted individuals since 1989.
by Mary Rudow
MST’s approach assumes that children are “born intelligent, curious, creative and are ripe to develop a sense of wonder and imagination.” Through a method developed by Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori, whose progressive education philosophy brought reform to Italy and Switzerland’s public school systems in the 1900s, MST’s goal, says its head of school, Pete Juds, is “not to control but to inspire the children to learn and to help them find their passion.”
Aside from the excellent academic programs offered at the school, where children from preschool to elementary levels get to choose from a range of activities and learn concepts using specialized educational materials, MST also emphasizes learning through outdoor activities and has recently added a large garden to the rear of the school building.
With summer approaching, I know that families living in the area will be interested in finding a good summer program to send their children to. I was able to get hold of James Moore, the energetic and multi-talented Operations Director at MST to find out more about the programs it offers:
What are the summer programs at the Montessori School of Tokyo?
We run a Summer Camp every year and have been doing that since 2005. The children are generally divided into two programs: Sunshine (ages 3-5) and elementary (ages 6-12). Dependent on enrollment, we often have more than one class at each level.
What are the activities like and is this a time for the children to catch up on their weaker subjects?
Parents should know that our camp is less an “academic” camp and primarily “activity based”, with an emphasis on social development and creativity. The camp takes place not only here on the MST campus, but in and around the many wonderful parks, sites and attractions of Tokyo. Every day sees students partake in a wide variety of activities, from field trips and outdoor games to crafts, swimming and cooking.
When will the camp be held this year? Can non-school members join?
The camp will be held this year from June 17 to July 5. And yes, the camp is open to the public; it’s been that way since the start. Every year we have a number of non-MST students who join our camp, often joining us from other schools in the Tokyo area. We often have children from other parts of Japan or overseas join us too, especially those who are returning to Tokyo for their summer breaks.
What about those who wish to join but can’t be there for three weeks? Is there a shorter option?
Yes, there is. We offer weekly signups so parents can choose to register their children on a week-by-week basis.
Do non-members join the camp because they want to get a taste of Montessori school life before enrollment?
Yes, some do. Some people join because they want to get to know some of the teachers, parents and other families before they become a part of the school the following August. Others come from abroad and are just here for the summer. But whatever the reasons, the children thoroughly enjoy themselves. We have had many camp “returnees” and have enjoyed successful camps every year.
What the Parents Say:
Hilmar Thorlindsson, a Montessori School of Tokyo parent of three years, from Iceland, testifies that: “My children have been enrolled in the MST Summer Camp for the past two years and will definitely be attending once again this coming summer. The MST Summer Camp program is by far the best I have come across; the kids are on endless field trips, they go swimming, bowling and do many, many more outdoor activities. Every day is like an adventure!”
Victor and Hiromi Shrenzel, (MST parents of nine years from the US/Japan) also express their delight at how their child never fails to enjoy herself at MST’s Summer Camp and that it is “truly the highlight of her summer break.” These same parents are impressed with the outdoor and sporting activities and the arts and crafts. They think that the field trips are also well balanced and organized. Most of all, they are happy that the children are happy and touched by the true spirit of friendship and cooperation among the children at the camp.
So parents, don’t miss out on this opportunity to provide your child (or children) with an experience that he/she will treasure for life and register now.
For more information about the Montessori School of Tokyo please visit their website: www.montessorijapan.com