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Developing disciplined, tolerant and independent children, who take care of their belongings and those of others, is part of the great changes that the Montessori system has achieved among the children who live in Hogar Cuna San Cristóbal.
The system was implemented three years ago at the shelter as a complement to the education they receive at the San Cristóbal Montessori School.
The children at the shelter are left there by their mothers or relatives. Others have been removed from their homes by the Department of the Family after being victims of abuse. They show behaviors of little tolerance to others, frustration and aggressiveness. However, they have demonstrated radical behavioral improvement after the implementation of the Montessori system.
“The change has been fundamental in terms of how the minors behave themselves. They feel happy when they achieve a goal and their self-esteem has risen,” says Ivonne Vélez, executive director of Hogar Cuna San Cristóbal and the San Cristóbal Montessori School.
The implementation of the Montessori system in a shelter is an innovative approach since it is usually used in schools. In addition to the San Cristóbal shelter, there is just another one, located in the country of Belize, using this system.
Hogar Cuna San Cristóbal, which currently houses 17 children waiting to be adopted, has caregivers certified by the International Montessori Association. They also have training in child development.
The 13 caregivers at the shelter are called “guides”, because they do much more than take care and feed the children. The guides prepare a plan, according to the individual profile of the child and his or her educational challenges, in areas such as speech and language.
Every work shift knows what the children are working on so that the necessary consistency is achieved, and every day of the week they work with a different skill, Vélez explains.
“Things are done with a purpose: to improve the life of each child.”
The children of the shelter are also educated under the Montessori system at the San Cristóbal Montessori School.
“Something very cool happens at the school, because you can not identify which child is from the shelter and which is from a family home. It is a very nice project, and in addition to that we include gardening as a learning and therapeutic process,” says Vélez.
Every Friday, the children can take food from their crops to their homes, she adds.
The San Cristóbal Montessori School is part of the services the shelter offers to the community. Since its foundation in 1992, the institution provides, in addition to the shelter service, several programs and workshops. Among them is the adoption program and community orientation in schools about the different forms of abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.