Words by Sumera Khan, Director of Learning Minds Montessori in Downtown Orlando
Children have been growing up in increasingly stressful and competitive social environments. In these circumstances, many parents may doubt the value of educational methods such as Montessori, especially in a world where most children will eventually need to adapt and succeed in traditional classrooms. The truth is that the Montessori method fosters the development of skills and competencies that will prove essential in any child’s learning journey, no matter where that journey leads. This is a summary of a few benefits offered by a Montessori education in a child’s early years.
In a Montessori setting, children are granted as much autonomy as is developmentally appropriate for their age group, and instructors are there to facilitate child-led learning rather than direct the learning themselves. Children are then able to challenge themselves as well as make — and learn from — mistakes in a safe and nurturing environment. A Montessori child, for instance, will learn to clean up after themselves after spilling something, rather than waiting for an adult to do so for them.
A true Montessori setting will allow children of different ages to interact freely in their learning environment. This is beneficial to youngsters, who learn with and from their older peers, and also to the older children in the classroom, who get to solidify their own skills by teaching them to someone younger. These interactions also foster the development of pro-social skills such as patience, empathy, and altruism. This environment can be especially helpful to children who don’t have older or younger siblings at home.
Montessori children actively participate in maintaining their learning environment, acquiring skills in discipline and organization through daily practice. Montessori lessons themselves either directly or indirectly foster children’s physical development by allowing freedom of movement and engaging all senses. Children are free to define their own workspace with mats on tables or on the floor; they carry trays, boxes, blocks, etc, in a safe and orderly fashion. This allows for great gross- and fine-motor development in the early years and fosters a sense of accountability for the environment.
It is true that most children will be furthering their education in traditional classrooms, but that does not diminish the value of a Montessori education in the foundational years. The skills and development fostered by Montessori philosophy will accompany young scholars for a lifetime and greatly aid in future intellectual achievement.
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