• Children make a match with mom/parent.
This is the reason that consistency is such a key issue in early childhood development. Children feel comfortable with routine because they know what to expect
• Children need order.
As above, when the environment has inherent structure and order, children feel safe. Children need to feel safe to explore their environment.
• Children have an innate desire to learn.
Our brains are hard-wired to learn. Children will learn spontaneously. Our role is to facilitate this as much as possible without interfering in the natural learning patterns of each individual child.
• Children have a drive for spontaneous activity.
Any person who has been near a young child knows this is true. In a Montessori environment, children are free to move about the classroom within the guideline of being respectful to others.
• Children must be active to gain self-discipline.
When a child chooses a work from a shelf, does the work to the best of their ability and returns the work to the place that they found it.
This is a completed work cycle. Adults often marvel at the child’s ability to focus on a task with such deep concentration. This is because they chose the work. It called to something within the child. No adult, parent or teacher could ever coach this concentration. It is innate within the child. Through the choosing of works and full completion of tasks, the child becomes self-motivated, self-disciplined and self-directed. • Children learn through imitation and trial and error. This was not a new concept even one hundred years ago. However, Montessori utilized the principle. In a Montessori environment, the teacher/guide shows the child how to do the work. She then invites the child to do the exercise. The child may repeat the exercise as many times as they like. The way in which the child does the exercise gives the guide clues about the child’s development.
• Children learn best in a multi-sensorial environment. There is a lot of discussion these days concerning what kind of learners we are: i.e. auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. Most of us learn in a variety of ways. Montessori set up a multi-sensorial environment where she utilized didactic materials to “educate the senses” that were originally designed to test the senses. Montessori children learn to not only look, but see, not only listen but hear. Since all learning comes to us from our senses, this multi-sensorial approach enables children to comprehend at a deeper level. • Children learn best when they get to put their “hands on” the materials. Rather than have a child sit at a desk and be lectured, Montessori felt that children would learn best if they were able to touch and manipulate the materials. This of course combines with the other observations that she made about how children learn. • Children learn best in multi-age group settings.
“Gifted and Talented” classrooms are beginning to make use of this model. Montessori noticed that children imitate and learn more easily from older children. Montessori classroom are set up in three-year cycles so that a child will come into a classroom as the younger child and progress to being the older child. As the younger child, they will learn more quickly, trying to emulate and keep up with the older children. As the older child, they become strong leaders. They will learn how to assist the younger child. This not only boosts their self-esteem and self-worth, but also gives them an opportunity to repeat exercises that they have already done and in doing so, gain a deeper understanding. • Children have “sensitive periods” for learning.
Human brains are designed to learn specific things at specific ages. A three-year -old child can become trilingual (by absorbing the languages in their environment) without difficulty. They will be able to keep the languages separate. This is not possible for the adolescent, who must work hard to gain a second language. (Most language programs do not begin until junior high school.) Each Montessori classroom, Infant/Toddler, Primary, Elementary and Adolescent are prepared with developmentally appropriate works. Montessori’s observations concerning the “windows of opportunity” for the development specific areas of abilities in language, math, cultural, social, physical continue to be corroborated by brain research. Dr. Montessori recognized that children have specific needs, the need to experience order, independence, movement, language, discipline, love and security. With true cooperation of school and home and a clear understanding of how to meet the child’s needs, a healthy child will emerge.