This discussion about the Montessori method is pivotal to our understanding of our most important roles as adults.
It is our duty to the next generation.
Consider this and ask yourself, how long does it take a newly born goat or giraffe to stand to its feet?
Yet the human baby takes nearly a year and sometimes more to achieve the same goal!
Educating the child starts from birth, the newborn child has a lot of growing and development to accomplish.
The issue is not so much that we teach the child to move, walk, talk and know his world, but that we provide the right environment to help him acquire these skills with minimal obstacles put in his place.
This is the Montessori way…
The first six years are the most important development period in the life of any human.
Get this right and the correct foundations for life would have been laid.
A lot of us believe that the Montessori method is most suited for the early years, let’s peg the early years as the first six years of life for this discussion.
Even if this were the correct assumption, what is it about the Montessori way that we have imbibed in our education system?
This question is first directed to schools with the name Montessori included on their signboards, and the rest of us in general.
Remember I said previously that there are three areas we must look at to gain from the Montessori method, the first is Child development.
Understand the nature and needs of a child and their importance to society and you will do right by them.
Here are some things that stand out which must change if we are not to leave too much on the table:
- Help the child achieve his goal.
The child forms the man.
The child has a job from the time he is born till the time he becomes an adult.
This is simply that he must construct himself to become the man of his future.
What are we doing to support this construction?
Our Government still does not realize that the resources that have been given to education so far, and specifically the education of the child’s first six years, are significantly low for the job at hand!
Parents and teachers both need to understand the what, why, and how of the child’s development. Do we understand this though?
The Montessori method provides us with a deep understanding of how the child develops, what we need to do to aid this development when we should do it, and how to do it.
- Understand the gift of the absorbent mind.
God has endowed each child with the ability to develop and construct themselves. It is not so much what we say, or our teaching that makes the child learn.
Some of us are alarmed at this, but it is true!
Consider a child born to Yoruba parents who had to move to Kaduna when he was a year old. Of the whole family, he and his younger brother born in Kaduna are the only ones who speak Hausa as an indigene, both parents try as they might can not do so.
Why is this?
It is the gift of the absorbent mind, of the child’s ability to soak up information from the environment that enables this. This is the crucial way a child learns. He soaks up information through his senses.
A child between birth and six years is a sensorial learner. How are we enabling the child to learn and absorb information this way?
This would require lots of hands-on activities, not the talking teacher or writing 1 to 1000 or using Primary one books in Nursery 1!
- Children learn at their own pace, they are individuals with their inner clocks. Putting them in a factory-like classroom will create chaos for each child’s clock!
Instead, God has given the child yet another tool to help them develop with their clocks, these are specific periods when the child has this urge to learn specific skills, for example, movement, language, order etc.
Our jobs as adults are to recognize them and provide the environment to enhance the learning of the skill.
Is this how our children learn? Can we recognize their needs?
- Children need concrete ideas and learning not abstractions.
Abstractions are symbols and most textbooks, textbooks which the child can not read yet!Concrete ideas are hands-on materials or activities that enable learning through absorption and the senses.
How are we doing with this at home and in our nursery school settings?
This is not all but it should give us a starting point. What can you do to help the child in your care construct himself?
We will explore the older child’s development and what we may be leaving on the table next.