I am posting this link especially for readers who are already clients of mine, and for those who are researching daycare options who may become clients of mine in my Montessori Home Daycare. Teacher Tom is not a Montessori educator, but I’ve discovered that many of his teaching philosophies closely resemble Montessori, and my own Montessori/unschooling hybrid philosophy that I have developed over the last several years of my early childhood education career. I thoroughly enjoy reading Teacher Tom’s blog, and I almost always instantly connect with what he shares about his teaching experiences and his goals for the children in his care, and what he feels is his role in guiding their development. Although this is a lengthy article, it is worth the read even if you have to do it in brief installments.
This article is about a study involving children between the ages of 8 – 16, but imagine if this kind of environment is provided to children as infants all the way through their teen years? The description of the environment offered to the children in this study very closely resembles a Montessori prepared environment. Of course guidance is given and teaching is offered, but it’s based on the interests of the child, not the lesson plans of the teacher.
I recognized these character traits in many kids when I taught in public elementary and middle schools years ago, and it’s no surprise to me that it hasn’t changed or is maybe even worse now than it was then. Along the same lines as an earlier post entitled “Silent Tragedy”, I don’t think any parent sets out for their child to acquire these traits. In my experience, most parents mean well and really want the best for their child, but just don’t realize how they might be harming their child’s development by parenting choices that they make. Parenting is a difficult job, and every child and family is different, but there are some essential elements of childhood development that parents must be aware of and understand in order to really provide what a child needs. It’s critical that parents provide the guidance that the child needs and not always just settle in the moment for what a child wants. As a parent myself, I will be the first to admit this is much easier said than done. But for the sake of our children, it must be done!
Teacher Tom gets it right when he says that children’s play is also rigorous learning, but with joy! I don’t see my job as having to teach toddlers and preschoolers letters, numbers, math, reading, etc. I provide materials for them to learn these things through activities of their choosing. I have never sat my 3 year old down to purposely teach him his letters and numbers but I am observing that he has learned them through play. We count jumps on the trampoline, or vehicles that he has lined up near a railroad crossing on his wooden train tracks. He makes letters of the alphabet with his magnet toys and blocks, and tells me the letters he knows when we are out in the car seeing buildings or trucks with big signs. He learns about measurement and physics through play in the sandbox, and he learns about balance when he creates obstacle courses either for himself to climb on, or for him to drive his toy cars and trucks around on them. Learning is fun for children and always a joy, for them and for me, when they learn through play!
These are a collection articles I have come across throughout my Montessori career that are easy to read and understand as far as giving prospective families a basic introduction to the Montessori philosophy. I include this collection of articles in all correspondence with prospective families to give an idea of my approach to the care and education of children in my care. It also gives parents ideas of ways to connect what children are learning in daycare with what they are learning at home. Consistency is important for children, and it is important for me that families try to implement the same ideals in their home life as what I am providing for them in their day-to-day care.
I agree with this author about what is happening with trends in childcare these days. As a daycare provider, I have seen many children and families come and go and have observed children who are being stressed out by parent behavior and children who succeed because of parent behavior. Nobody has all the right answers, but there are some things that become clearer to me with each passing year, and with each new child and family that I meet. All of the parents mean well and try really hard to raise their children well, but despite their efforts, many parents don’t realize just how much some of their behaviors are negatively affecting their child.
If we want children to become independent, we have to give them opportunities to make choices and understand the consequences (good and bad) of those choices. If we want them to become problem solvers, they need to be given opportunities to solve their own problems. We need to give the child language and examples on how to solve problems, but we can’t step in all of the time to solve the problem for them.
If we want children to have a positive self esteem, we need to give opportunities for them to do everything possible by and for themselves, and offer only “necessary” help. Then, praise can be given for real accomplishments, and guidance given to learn ways to cope with failures. The most important is not to be afraid to say “no” when what a child wants is not what the child needs. When you know that saying” no” will result in a tantrum, it’s tempting to give in to the child because you don’t want to put up with the tantrums. But this is what the child needs – clear and consistent boundaries and limits. Children also need opportunities to learn patience, build will power, and to delay gratification. They aren’t naturally wired to do this before the age of 3, but can learn it if given the opportunity. Oppositely, they will learn to develop a sense of entitlement if clear and consistent boundaries are not set.
Many parents don’t like to hear this from me, just as the author states about her experiences at the beginning of the article. I’m sure it sounds like I am being uncaring and mean to the child, but this is what the child needs; a parent and a guide, not a friend. Nobody wants to hear a child screaming and crying, of course. We automatically think surely this means that the child is stressed and hurt and we have to step in and help, and do something to get the crying to stop. But a crying child does not always need to be picked up or have all of his problems solved by an adult so that the crying stops. A crying child needs “necessary” help and a lot of guidance, and the opportunity to solve a problem, in order to resolve the crying, by himself. Sometimes this is just being given the opportunity to learn how to calm himself down in order to begin to talk about how to solve a problem together. I’m not saying a crying child should be ignored, and of course sometimes what the child needs is hugs and to be comforted physically. However, if we always step in, the child will always rely on an adult to solve his problems, and will never learn to do this for himself, which ultimately leads to insecurity, anxiety, lack of independence, and lack of self-esteem.
When a child is given what he needs he develops self control, self-esteem, independence, and a real sense of security so that he can go forward and explore the world without fear or anxiety. And then it is truly a joy to be a guide in their growth and development.
I’ve always been bothered by this discipline technique and been wondering why.This post hits the nail on the head. What are we really teaching our children (and making ourselves suffer through) when we employ this as a method of getting our children comply… let me know what you think!
“Kids learn to be self-sufficient, independent thinkers by figuring out how to react to uncomfortable situations. But how will that happen if they’re always comfortable?
Love your kids, but let them bleed a little. Let them fail. Let them figure out how to act when no one’s watching, or at least let them think no one’s watching. They’ll thank you for it later.”
As an early childhood care provider I do feel pressure to be sure that children are learning every day. At the same time, I know that learning happens every day, no matter if it can be measured in any significant way or not, and no matter whether there are high quality interactions and materials provided or not. But obviously, with quality interactions, conversations, and developmentally appropriate books and materials provided, quality learning does happen every day, again, even though it cannot be quantitatively measured. This is what I strive to provide, and to achieve, as a “measure” of my own success, so to speak.
At such a young age (under 6 years), and arguably at any age, learning should really not be so measured. So I agree, we should stop trying to “make” everything educational, and just let “education” happen naturally through freedom of exploration and play. Children naturally want to learn about their world. Let’s be sure to let that happen naturally and not squander their natural love of learning by trying to “force” learning.
I am a teacher by profession, and I agree with Teacher Tom here, who shares his wisdom (and wisdom from Mister Rogers) about the volunteer parents caring for the children in his cooperative preschool. Give children freedom to learn through playing and trust the love and care that thoughtful parents bestow on all of the children in their own child’s community. This is a strong foundation for a lifetime love of learning.
“It’s love and play that form the foundation of a good education. Without that, the rest is worse than useless, it’s meaningless.”