I find many parents confounded by the plethora of educational methodologies available today. They all sound so convincing and almost believable, and in all likelihood, you would be confused. A word of caution here, the method you choose must first and foremost be firmly grounded on scientific principles of growth and development of the human being.
There’s only one method that can truly be employed to help the child realize his potential and Nature herself predetermines the method. Hence the approach you choose must be in keeping with the laws that govern child growth and development. A thorough understanding of these laws of nature will provide us with answers as to how to assist the child as he develops. All of mankind is alike in the fact that we all pass through the same stages in development. Which means that these laws are universal. Dr. Montessori’s method is in keeping with these laws and as a result, children reveal their true character.
The method that we choose to employ should also take utmost care to provide a conducive environment that is in tune with the psychical, physical, social and emotional needs of the child. And we all know how important the influence of the environment is on development.
The first stage of development is by far the most critical period, which extends from birth to 6 years. For it is during this period that the greatest instrument of man – his intelligence is formed, all his psychic faculties are constructed and the creation of the human character takes place.
Hence the method that you choose must consider all these needs of the child.
“The psychic life of a child needs to be protected and to be surrounded by an environment that could be compared with the wrappings placed by nature about the physical embryo.” Dr. Montessori studied embryology in order to continue to provide an environment akin to a womb to facilitate development of the psychic embryo. A prepared environment, like a womb, is a nurturing space in which the child grows independently within safe confines.
She says, “There must not be too much contrast, as regards warmth, light, noise with his conditions before birth”. The bond of mother and infant plays a significant role. She speaks of birth as a result of love into an environment of love. It is a kind of love that inspires sacrifice, a giving up of life on the part of the adult in dedication to the child.
We must immerse the child into an environment with those impressions that we wish the child to absorb—love, freedom, order, beauty, for She says, “It is in babyhood, by means of his infantile powers alone, that the child acquires personal characteristics that will mark him forever…In doing so, he is happy and his mind matures.”
Montessori recognized the fact that each child is unique and hence the method is built for the individual. So the curriculum is customized to the child, taking into consideration his interests. A child in the environment has the freedom to choose his work, s/he is free to repeat work and free to develop at her/ his own pace.
Lastly and most importantly, and this should be the deciding factor really, which is for you to ask that all -important question, “How will my child learn?” You need to find out for yourself whether your child will just be a passive listener as the teacher does all the talking or would your child be involved with all his mental faculties and physical senses in the learning experience?
One can safely say that the Montessori Method is by far the most scientific, humanistic and progressive methodology known to man till date.
I hope this article has been an eye opener for you in finding a method that will truly assist your child in her/ his journey of development through life.
Sandy Philip – Directress, www.thefreethinkingschool.com