By Sharon Vanella, Head of Early School
As we near the break for Thanksgiving, I have been reflecting a great deal on the process that the children are undertaking as they grow during this exciting and wondrous age span from 2-6. The children are settled into their classrooms, which are vibrant with purpose and discovery. Everything the children are doing is a part of a continuum that ultimately leads to adulthood. This crucial time is an ideal span for a child to be in a Montessori environment, which allows him to explore with his whole being, using all his senses. Maria Montessori carefully observed and recorded children’s development, and created a sequence of materials and lessons which engage the child and allow her to practice, step by step, every detailed skill that she’ll need on her path through life: practical, social, and academic.
For five years of my teaching career, I had the true privilege to work alongside a seasoned Montessori teacher who embodied the true spirit of Montessori: follow the child, and guide him along his path with care, but without unnecessary intervention. Whenever a child was showing signs of struggle – indicating that s/he was growing in some facet of his or her development, she often stated simply and calmly, “It is a process.” She was always right, as we would observe as the child would work through whatever was challenging him or her at the time, whether it was learning letter sounds, remembering to clean up after oneself, or working out a conflict with a friend. If we swooped in and interrupted the process, fixing the problem for them, inevitably the child would repeat the same struggle, or it would last longer. When given the time, space, and tools/guidance, children are able to work through the process of figuring out a solution that helps them learn from the experience and move on. This is the reason that Montessori teachers invite children to repeat a lesson or activity over and over to develop the concentration and problem-solving ability in addition to the inherent skill the activity is designed to promote.
Maria Montessori said, “Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” I invite you to join your child on this path of discovery and to TRUST THE PROCESS… it is tried and true!
For more information about the connection between the child’s developing brain related to Montessori education, check out the following resources:
Repetition and Child Development in Montessori Education (Montessori Academy)
The Neurology of Montessori (Montessori for Everyone)
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, by Angeline Stoll Lillard