Inspire Kids Montessori is giving kids a voice by introducing their kindergarten students to public speaking. The Ahwatukee preschool is incorporating project-based learning through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities and complex projects that students present to their parents, teachers and classmates.
The Ahwatukee school, founded by Diana Darmawaskita in 2010, offers innovative early education programs for infants through age 6 based on the teachings of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori.
“Our kindergarten students explore the basic concepts of STEM through individual projects which they then present. This not only teaches them how to research and develop a project, but also how to share what they have learned and become comfortable speaking in front of others,” she said.
Topics for past projects have included the Earth’s mantle and the solar system. At 11 a.m. May 18, the students will present their projects on the human body and organ functions, including an overview of the lungs, kidneys, circulatory system and other parts of the anatomy.
Darmawaskita said it takes students approximately one month to research the subject and two more months to develop the presentation content and display board. The kindergarten students create two STEM projects per year that are presented in May and December.
“Public speaking is an important skill we use throughout our lives, but people of all ages have a fear of presenting. By introducing this skill at an early age our students learn to be less self-conscious and more confident when speaking in front of adults and other children,” she added.
Inspire Kids offers programs for infants 6 weeks through children up to age 6.
Darmawaskita said IKM students rank in the upper percentile nationwide as evidenced by TerraNova academic testing results. Recently the school received full accreditation from the National Early Childhood Education Program Accreditation Committee and became a part of an elite group of top 10 percent schools in the nation.
The school campus offers bright, open classrooms designed for collaborative learning; enhanced security measures; back-to-nature playgrounds for different age groups and school gardens which the students learn to tend.
Inspire Kids implements the curriculum developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian educator, in the early 1900s.
In addition to STEM, the school’s accelerated Montessori curriculum places an emphasis on reading, writing, art, music and movement, nature study and the concepts of grace and courtesy. Students also are introduced to practical life skills, including cooking and care of the self and the environment.
Darmawaskita holds a degree in civil engineering from University of Tarumanagara, Jakarta, Indonesia, and an MBA from Wright State University. After starting her career in engineering and working in a corporate setting, she became interested in early childhood education after having her two children.
“I wanted to create a school that would help each student reach their full potential in a safe and loving environment that celebrates their individuality and uniqueness. I think we’ve accomplished just that,” she said.