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MSB Parent Testimonials | Flowers have bloomed where we never expected



Today, we spoke to one of MSB's parents Michelle. When talking about the changes MSB has brought to her children, Michelle's words reveal infinite comfort and joy. MSB, with its nurturing Montessori education, is practicing what it preaches. There are endless possibilities in education, but they all originate from the same source. In Michelle's opinion, MSB not only has a very professional Montessori pedagogy to support students' academic growth but also focuses on character development. To Michelle, character is the inner trait that intertwines with a person's development in life. The school-family partnership in nurturing gives Michelle and her children a sense of belonging. This deep connection and belonging not only builds confidence and responsibility in the children but also helps them form healthy relationships with others and enjoy warmth and kindness.


In today's fiercely competitive society, parents' expectations for their children are higher than ever. However, as parents, they also understand that the purpose of educating their children is not only to pursue success. It is equally important to make them healthy, happy, patient, and mature individuals. MSB is more than a school, it is a method, a path, and a way of looking at things. There, children explore, learn and find their own way.


Michelle comes from Taiwan, and her two children, Pei-chieh and You-ting, are both students at MSB. The siblings are in seventh and third grade, respectively, and joined MSB in first grade and kindergarten six years ago. As a parent, no matter where you are, you can gain what you need from Michelle's sharing. In her opinion, education is a goal-oriented journey, but the value of education is every present moment instead of the destination, and every present moment is sincere and perfect.


Today, let's listen to their story.


A school that speaks the language of love


MSB Marketing Department: Hello Michelle, we would like to start off by thanking you for accepting our interview today. As a parent who has been with us for many years, could you share with us how your family decided to join MSB?


Michelle: Hello. Since we are Taiwanese, we are able to attend international schools. We were choosing among several schools when my daughter was starting first grade. We visited several international schools in Beijing, and after taking my daughter for interviews at several schools, we found that she was not very happy. Because my daughter is pretty outgoing, we were hoping to find a school where she could keep her extroverted personality while learning. By chance, a friend recommended the International Montessori School of Beijing (MSB) to me, telling me that although it is not a big school, it builds a solid foundation for students' Chinese language skills. As a Taiwanese family, we actually had a concern about the other schools we visited - they don't have many Chinese lessons. We thought we would try MSB then and signed up for a school visit and an interview. I was so delighted at my daughter's feedback after the interview.


I still remember the scene when my daughter came out of the lobby. She was like a happy little flying swallow, her face full of infinite joy and pleasure, and she told me that this was the school she wanted to go to. We enrolled her in right away.


MSB Marketing Department: It seems that your daughter's feelings about the school have started your family's six-year journey with MSB, which is really wonderful. Did your daughter say why she was attracted to this school at once?


Michelle: I think compared to the "serious" environment of other schools and the more traditional relationship between teachers and students, the warmth and love conveyed by MSB during the interview, along with all kinds of details, can be easily perceived by children's sensitive minds. I still remember clearly that the teacher who interviewed us was Alice Zhang from the Chinese Department. I think she is excellent at encouraging children because my daughter was totally relaxed after the interview. When I saw her, I thought this is what I hope my child would be like - real, relaxed, open, and empowered, so I was determined to enroll my children.


MSB Marketing Department: It has been six years since that day. Can you briefly describe what is your strongest feeling for MSB during these six years?


Michelle: I think the strongest feeling is that this is a school that speaks the language of love. The teachers genuinely love and care for the children, so that they are not alone on the path of growth and can feel the purest emotions between people. At MSB, the teachers' care is what really moves me. I remember when my outgoing daughter suddenly became quiet for a few days when she was in second grade. I happened to have a parent-teacher conference one afternoon, but before I spoke, the teacher took the initiative to talk to me about my daughter. She found that Pei-chieh's mood was a bit low from yesterday, and asked if there was something at home that affected her mood.  I didn't expect the teacher, who has so many children in the class, to be observing them so carefully. When I told her that nothing had happened at home, she quickly looked into my daughter's social circle and found that there was indeed some conflict between her and her close friends. I remember the teacher talked to me several times about how to resolve their conflicts. I learned a lot throughout the process because the teacher didn't directly stop them but assisted them and provided guidance while observing. The conflict was resolved perfectly and my daughter's smile returned in less than two weeks. Later, to boost her confidence, the teacher encouraged her to join the school's swimming team. She built her confidence gradually and has continued this hobby ever since.


I think such attentive observation of children is impossible without love. There is another thing that I believe is a perpetual "sweet mystery". My children always look forward to going to school. When we were young, we thought going to school was a burden, but my daughter and son love going to school, look forward to returning to campus during holidays, and they would even go to bed early at night, eagerly waiting for the next day to be back on campus. I think this is truly a community with love. It gives children a sense of belonging and reduces their stress, so they are willing to be a part of it.




MSB Marketing Department: I can feel that the children here are always seen, seen by their teachers, seen by those around them, and seen by themselves. Acceptance is a prerequisite for education, and the essence of acceptance is seeing. In a traditional education environment, many children spend their whole lives waiting for someone who can "see" them. It's really inspiring to know that you feel your child can be seen by teachers at school, isn't it?


Michelle: That's so true. And our school also has a diverse evaluation system. We definitely don't just evaluate a child based on their grades. Instead, MSB's evaluation is more about teaching children to compare themselves to who they were yesterday. This principle is easier said than done and needs months and years of practice for children to truly understand its significance. For example, we went to Shenzhen for a swimming competition a few days ago. My daughter didn't win any prizes, but she still encouraged herself. I think she truly recognizes her strength and enjoys the process of the competition rather than just the result. This has much to do with our evaluation principles.



Montessori education lets flowers bloom unexpectedly


MSB Marketing Department: As you mentioned earlier, whether it's the teacher's attention or evaluation, I understand that MSB has built a loving and secure environment for children, which allows them to build genuine confidence, determination, and courage. Children who grow up in a loving and secure environment have no fear. In fact, the environment and atmosphere are crucial in education. What surprises have your daughter and son brought you as they grow up in this environment?


Michelle: I think there are surprises all the time. When we first joined MSB, I heard many parents say that Montessori education is an education that has far-reaching significance. But I didn't really feel it at that time. Now that my daughter is in the higher grades and has transferred to another international school, I suddenly realized the six years of Montessori education have helped shape my daughter in two ways that bring me great joy. One is her self-motivation and independence, the other is her ability to encourage herself.


In her new school, she had to handle everything by herself, planning schedules, selecting courses and conducting research. She was doing so well that I simply didn't need to help in this process. I discovered that my daughter is a highly motivated child who possesses a strong inner drive, which I believe is instilled in her by the environment. In Montessori classrooms, teachers focus on hands-on skills. What amazed me was that although she didn't have a lot of homework or academic pressure, she learned a great deal through the process of exploration and hands-on activities. Even when it seemed like she was just playing with the materials, she was actually learning and gaining a deep understanding of the knowledge. Now, she is highly independent and has her own thoughts and judgments. I think what they meant by "far-reaching significance" is that Montessori education helps children find their inner drive, which makes them self-motivated children.


Now that she is in middle school, there are times when she sits at her desk and complains about having too much homework. But despite her complaints, she quietly gets to work after a while and completes her assignments neatly. She is truly independent and responsible for her own learning outcomes.


MSB Marketing Department: Independence, self-motivation and responsibility are all important qualities. Montessori education encourages freedom and self-motivation, a concept that has deeply influenced many parents. Like you, they don't just set rules for their children but encourage them to discover and explore, fostering curiosity and a spirit of exploration.


Compared to visible skills, there are also many traits that are the key to success and growth. Can you give us some examples of your daughter encouraging herself?


Michelle: Sure, I noticed this when she was in her upper grades. When facing challenges or failures, she is the kind of person who encourages herself. I remember when she was in elementary school, her teacher told the students that everyone has strengths. When her good friend won an award, she wouldn't feel jealous or sad. Instead, she would cheer for her friend and say "well done!" along with the teacher. When she made progress or improvements, her teachers would also encourage her to compare herself to who she was yesterday. So she gradually became someone who enjoys the process and encourages herself. Several times when she failed at swimming competitions, she wasn't very frustrated but instead comforted herself and silently cheered for herself. That's something I am particularly pleased about.


Actually, I don't have many academic expectations for her. I just hope she can develop character traits and a good personality. For example, the self-management and self-discipline she learned in elementary school. The teachers gave them enough freedom and trust while teaching them how to be strong and brave when facing challenges and setbacks. In this loving and respectful environment, the children build confidence and self-respect, learn gratitude and sharing, and become someone who can manage themselves, encourage themselves, someone with a loving heart and can enjoy the process.


MSB Marketing Department: I feel that your daughter really had a fulfilling childhood. What about your son? Can you share with us how he has changed?


Michelle: My son and his elder sister have opposite personalities. My daughter is outgoing and active, while my son has always been quiet. For example, when he was in kindergarten, if the teacher gave them the choice between reading in the classroom or playing on the playground during recess, my son would always choose to read quietly. But what surprised me is that now he loves sports, such as basketball. I think the teachers' guidance played a great part in it. They have always been confident and firm in the children's growth and development. I believe this is what makes them professional educators. I remember asking the teacher about my son's personality before. The teacher told me that choosing to read quietly means he is developing his concentration skills, and concentration is particularly important for EC children. Now, my son can fit in very well, and his personality development is bringing me so much joy.



Parenting with love and "whitespace"


MSB Marketing Department: Parents' emotion is often like a magnet for children. If parents are positive and loving, children will also be positive and loving. I can feel that you are not an anxious parent. How do you manage your anxiety about your children's growth?


Michelle: Actually, I also feel anxious sometimes, but I keep it to myself and don't express it to my children because parents create the emotional atmosphere necessary for children's sense of security.  And I feel that the teachers at MSB have always been teaching me as well. All the staff, more or less, view children through a Montessori lens. Even chatting with Irene, the admissions officer, while waiting for the teacher, is very rewarding. They are not anxious people and do not pass on anxiety to children and parents.  This is something I especially love about MSB - families and the school have the same vision and philosophy of education. MSB also empowers us parents, and we all learn in this environment and get closer and closer to each other.


Also, I am not anxious now because I have confidence in my children's growth. When we first joined MSB, some of my friends and even some MSB parents had some signs of anxiety. Will my children only learn English and Chinese at a mediocre level with half-day for each? But you know what, now that my daughter is in middle school, she gets Level A in both English and Chinese, and she has a very deep understanding of Chinese culture. The anxiety of being "mediocre" completely disappeared, and at every parent-teacher conference, the teachers were very positive about my daughter's academic performance.


To give another example, when my daughter was in second grade, she still wrote very slowly, which made me worried. However, the teachers always guided her to learn at her own pace. As a result, in third grade, my daughter suddenly wrote fast and neatly. When they were young and memorizing the multiplication table, I never saw my daughter actually memorizing them. She just played with Montessori materials every day and gradually mastered them. So I think there is no need for parents to worry, the results will speak volumes.


MSB Marketing Department: Your daughter is now in another school. What do you think distinguishes MSB from other schools?

Michelle: Other schools are "schools," but this is "family" (laughs). To be honest, when I attend parent gatherings at her current middle school, I feel that they are formal gatherings. But MSB is different. Every gathering feels like a family reunion. So, I think I still belong to MSB (laughs). Yes, MSB is as warm as a family.