Parents have many choices when sending children to care away from home. Before it became the norm that both parents had to work away from home, children were usually at home with one parent – typically the mother or in some instances grandparents and went to a half day preschool before entering half day Kindergarten at the neighborhood school.
Times are different now and parents have to work away from home. A wide variety of options for child care are available to parents such as home family child care, traditional day care or preschool setting. With an abundance of options available, it can be difficult to ascertain what would work best for the child. Parents choose whether they prefer a free play/traditional or an academically based program for their child?
By the time children enter Kindergarten there are certain expectations of school readiness. They need to exhibit social and emotional maturity to separate from parents readily, be able to assimilate into a classroom with peers, and can take verbal directions from teachers. They should have age appropriate fine and gross motor skills to be able to complete requisite tasks.
How does a Montessori preschool prepare the child for Kindergarten?
Montessori is education for the whole child by nurturing the intellect and creating a superior environment which invites the child to learn joyously. The beautiful materials are intentionally created to spark interest and cultivate the desire to learn – how, what, where, why?
– How does 2 + 2 = 4?
– How do the sounds c-a-t when joined together make the word cat?
– What is the difference between an island and lake, gulf and bay?
– How does one clean up a spill without requiring adult assistance?
The Montessori primary environments are prepared with varying levels of difficulty, the child is able to move from the one level of mastery to the next level of complexity. Working at her/his comfort level and taking ownership of learning the child is internalizes actual concepts to build a foundation for education without rote memorization. Problem-solving without time constraints builds confidence and deepens concentration.
An environment that fosters cooperation and respect for each individual child fosters self-confidence. Allowing quiet/shy children ample time to recite simple poems or share short stories in front of peers develops their confidence to talk in front of a group of people. Alternatively, outgoing children enjoy greeting visitors to their classroom and engaging in simple conversation. The multiage classrooms are very beneficial in teaching cooperation and empathy. The ability to quickly come to the aid of a fellow classmate or to assist the teacher are lifelong skills which come in handy not only in a classroom situation but in everyday life. A five year old naturally assisting a struggling three year old to zip up her jacket or get a sponge to help clean up a spill are daily occurrences in Montessori environments and so delightful to observe.
Montessori infant and toddler environments have similar characteristics. They are carefully created safe and comfortable environments taking into consideration the motor and cognitive needs of the infant and toddler. Each environment is designed to meet the physical and emotional needs of the children and to aid their rapidly developing motor and intellectual skills. The interesting materials which lend themselves to toddler activity also aid in developing language skills. Large classrooms provide ample space for movement which is closely tied to intelligence.
“Exploration makes intelligence open-ended and inventive” according to the psychology professor Linda Smith from Indiana University in her paper The Development of Embodied Cognition – Six Lessons From Babies.
As the infants grow into toddler hood they exhibit many characteristics typical to toddlers – the need for movement, independence, and the gradual emergence of autonomy as the will of the child appears. Simple and interesting environments invite activity. Well-spaced activities make it easy for the toddler to make a choice.
By providing an environment which encourages independence, allows the child to make simple decisions and permitting ample time to persevere through motor activities, develops contentment in the child. Older toddlers are very empathetic to their younger classmates. Older toddlers gently hugging a classmate to welcome her/him into the classroom are normal occurrences in Montessori schools.
So Why Montessori?
Montessori education allows children to develop in accordance with the natural developmental periods. Creating an environment where children can thrive by developing independence, self-discipline and a variety of cognitive and social skills is the true value of a Montessori education. Because that is when the true nature of child is revealed!
“The child has his own laws of development and if we want him to grow, it’s a question of following these, not of imposing ourselves upon him.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Montessori education prepares children for life!
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