As parents, we all want our children to love learning. Children that autonomously and joyfully seek knowledge are far more likely to become confident, independent, and happy adults. But, is a lifelong love of learning something that can be taught? If so, how do we parents–as our children’s first and most influential teachers–bestow such an extraordinary gift upon our children? As an adult that has always loved learning, I look to my own, Montessori based, education for answers. What I conclude is this: all children are born with an inherent hunger for knowledge, an inborn trait that if carefully fostered during childhood will stick with them throughout their lives.
We cannot know the consequences of suppressing a child’s spontaneity when he is just beginning to be active. We may even suffocate life itself. That humanity which is revealed in all its intellectual splendor during the sweet and tender age of childhood should be respected with a kind of religious veneration. It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.
~ Dr. Maria Montessori
Through a lifetime of research and observation, Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that the secret to joyful learning lies within the experience of the education. By this, I mean that learning should be a hands-on, engaging, challenging process experienced by the child. For this to take place, the child’s developmental cycles must be understood, and the right activities offered at the right time. Only when exposed to a correctly prepared environment, can children spontaneously seek information that is meaningful to them and appropriate for their development level, thus taking advantage of their natural and spontaneous need to know. The Montessori method of learning encourages children to take ownership of their own learning, an essential step in fostering the child’s natural desire to learn. Children that learn to be internally motivated are more likely to become responsible, self-disciplined, confident, initiative-takers, with strong academic skills, and a lifelong love for learning.
By understanding the child’s stages of development, parents and teachers can fulfill the different needs of the individual child and maximize his or her learning experience. When their individual needs are recognized and met, children flourish both academically and spiritually. Maria Montessori understood the child’s cycles of development and how to unlock his or her inherent gifts. As parents, we want to help our children reach their maximum potential. Yes, we want to see them achieve academic mastery, but we also want to see them engaged, enthusiastic, and joyful about learning. What could possibly carry them further in life than a hunger to educate themselves?
As magical as this may all sound, it is both realistic and attainable. It is done every day in Montessori classrooms around the world. But the Montessori method is not an elite secret meant to be shared with only the fortunate or wealthy, Montessori’s wisdom can change the way we teach our children at home, every day.
“How do you change the consciousness of the people? Teaching children [is] not enough…for parents hold the fate of their children in their hands.”
~Mary Ellen Maunz, M.Ed., Montessori Master Teacher Trainer, and author of Nurturing Your Child’s Inner Life, 2012.
As parents, we do hold our children’s fate in our hands. A child’s learning process can and should be joyful–and we can make this a reality. Visit a Montessori classroom to see the Montessori Method at work. Stop by Age of Montessori’s website where you will find access to free webinars, videos, and informational literature.
Want to learn more? You can choose from any of the following course options:
- Early Childhood Courses—these short (6-week) courses are for homeschoolers, parents, grandparents, and anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of early childhood development.
- Instructional DVDs for Early Language Development—The Royal Road to Reading DVDs are for homeschoolers, preschools, daycares, parents, teachers and anyone who wants to teach children true mastery of language and a strong ability to read.
- Montessori Information Course—this non-credit, 9-month course is for parents, homeschoolers, daycare providers, and anyone wanting to gain a complete understanding of how and why Montessori works.
- Early Childhood Teacher Certification Program—this fully accredited, 2-year on-line and in-person course is for those seeking certification to teach children from the ages of 2½ – 6 years.