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.