Parents today are quite proactive. They have their unborn babies on waiting lists for the top nurseries in the area. They have college funds established before their children have even spoken their first word. Today’s research confirms that the infant brain is engaged in an abundant act of formation and the outer surroundings, in large scope, will determine what that formation will be. Stunning, in fact! The realization hits all parents that their role and the atmosphere they provide are not just important; it is the unquestionable foundation for their child’s future.
In the words of Maria Montessori, “The most important part of life is not the University, but the first period- the period that extends from 0-6 years, because it is during this first period that intelligence, the great instrument of man, is formed; and not only intelligence, but the whole of the psychic faculties are constructed during this period.” (The Absorbent Mind, p.31)
So the big question is not the age in which a child is ready to enter a learning environment, but where will conventional convenience and competition decrease, so learning may increase? While we all want what’s best for our children; it is becoming increasingly concerning to see society tendency toward foundational education to gather around adult centered curriculum instead of around the individual child. The former creates followers, while the latter creates leaders. The Montessori approach is beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. It touches the very spirit of the child and starts the momentum that creates a lifetime of achievement.
The Montessori Method has been popular for over a hundred years, and the benefits of utilizing a Montessori toddler program are becoming increasingly well known. The Montessori philosophy embraces the idea that children are capable of self-directed learning. They learn and think differently from adults and from one another. The approach focuses on a number of areas of learning and children are exposed to practical life, language, sensorial, self-discovery, spatial learning, art and music. The first few years are crucial to the development of a child’s intellect and personality, and the Montessori Method seeks to provide children with every opportunity to enhance these traits along with the freedom to assert their independence and gives them the freedom to learn. In most cases, the method is “correct” for a wide spectrum of personalities, temperaments, and learning styles.
Within a Montessori toddler program, teachers give children the opportunity to develop at their own pace and build skills in several key areas including sensory and perception, language, self-help, social and emotional growth, and physical and motor skills. Toddler minds are especially eager to try new things, explore, learn and master new skills. The sooner a child begins a program allowing them to develop and enhance these skills, the more dramatic their achievements. Most toddlers are sensitive to stimulation and when in a rich exploratory environment filled with music, art, language and spatial relationships, the brain develops a strong, lasting ability to accomplish and learn.
One of the greater strengths found in Montessori Tides Toddler program is the atmosphere of cooperation and respect, as each individual toddler discovers their joy for learning. With the right stimulation, the development of reasoning and problem-solving skills can be nurtured in any toddler. Montessori Tides has found toddlers learn best through hands-on experience, real world application, and problem solving skills. Montessori Tides believes intelligence is not rare among toddlers and when a school is presented as a safe, thrilling, and joyful experience, optimal learning opportunities arise.
Below is a comparison of Montessori & Conventional education
Conventional – Montessori
Late start at school (5-6) – early start at school (2-3)
One age per class – 3 year age range per class
Seated at desk – freedom to move about
Little socialization – community atmosphere
Large group lessons – individual lessons
Teacher as source of answers – self correcting materials
Rewards and punishments – natural, logical consequences
Adult centered schedule – child centered schedule
Frequent interruptions – longer free work periods
Limited curriculum – enhanced curriculum
Peer comparison as test – progress of students as test
Emphasis on grades – emphasis on learning
Emphasis on conformity – emphasis on individuality
Annual promotion – progress at individual rate
Teacher as disciplinarian – emphasis on “self” control
Corporal punishment – PEACE in education
Little parent involvement – strong school/ home ties
Graded report cards – observation based progress reports