What I love of the Montessori approach is that it gives a child the opportunity to act freely and choose their own activity. A child will actively pursue new challenges. How didn't I already know that at Kidzania in London Chanel was able to pursue what is currently meaningful to her, whatever that may be. It has also given me the opportunity to simply observe and support her development in many areas of learning.
In case you are unfamiliar with the KidZania concept, just know that this is not a typical theme park. Instead, kids get to participate in a variety of role-playing activities specifically designed to educate and inspire kids from the ages of 4 to 17, by creating a kid-centric city experience that begins from arrival at the airport, on to visiting a city centre and exploring the city streets. On top of it all, they get to earn a salary after "working" (in the form of kidZos, the official currency of KidZania), pay for goods, services and training, open a bank account, and manage an ATM card - all the things they see adults do in real life!
Chanel above training as a chocolatier in the Chocolate Factory. She learned about the history of chocolate, the origin of the ingredients and even made real Cadbury bar chocolate.
Above Chanel is working as a Dental Assistant and grasping all the basics of brushing, flossing and general dental care. Here kids take part in a real dental procedure as they fill cavities in a life-like model. It was fantastic to hear the children advising patients on best practice in oral hygiene to prevent how to treat conditions such as toothache or gum disease.
Chanel used some of her KidZos to pay for training, face painting and stickers.
Above working as a Fashion Recycling Operative of H&M, and learning about the life cycle of cotton, while taking part in the process of textile recycling. Chanel helped to sort and recycle clothes in the H&M factory. Here your child can learn the differences between recycling both synthetic and natural fibres, and the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry.
There was plenty of action here! In our first visit she trained as a surgeon, performing a lifesaving operation. Chanel definitely got a real taste of what it's like in the Hospital. In our second visit she was trained as a paramedic rushing to the scene of an accident. It feels like real life - you listen out for the sirens as the paramedic team rushes patients to Alder Hey’s A&E
At the Music Academy, Chanel was the most enthusiastic learner. The group of children learned about rhythms and how to play the drums. They collaborated and practised together as a team and then play together to the audience.
For each experience Chanel was paid with Kidzos, and she had the opportunity as in real life to choose to spend her money, pay for training, or work in KidZania's training departments. At the Ice Cream Factory Chanel learned about the ingredients that go into ice cream, and how they are blended. I think this was one Chanel's favourite trainings.
You have no doubt heard of Innocent smoothies. Here they teach children how to become a Fruitologist. Through producing delicious smoothies, Chanel came across different types of fruit, identified where it came from and made her own smoothies!
Learning to style hair at this realistic beauty salon.
Above Chanel is a customer in the Supermarket. On her next visit she can choose to serve customers at the till and request assistance through the tannoy system, while customers can estimate their total bill and decide to spend or save. I loved to see her totally involved in her shopping.
Training as a Fire Woman - this was serious fire business.
At the Bank, Chanel worked as a cashier to develop financial literacy, and after earning Kidzos she was a customer who had the fun of opening her own bank account. She loved taking out (her own) cash from the ATM. I love the concept that a child here gets a first-hand understanding of personal financial planning, and sound money management skills.
I am a huge believer of celebrating the uniqueness of each child and their potential, and of believing in the child as an intrinsically motivated natural learner. I am absolutely thrilled with KidZania, a fantastic place aimed to empower kids, give them the confidence to challenge themselves, and to inspire them to explore the world of opportunities.
I'd love to hear if you have visited this place and to know how was your child's experience! (I believe there are more than twenty around the world!) here in the UK.