Your child needs the right tools at the right time…
Developmentally speaking, the first six years are the most important of your child’s life. Science tells us that children develop 85% of core brain structure by the time they are six years old. Your child will build on this core foundation throughout the rest of his life.
During these early years, your child’s mind is like a sponge, a very absorbent sponge that soaks up information effortlessly and automatically. But parents need to know what information their children need, and when. Why? you ask. Because your child is experiencing powerful “sensitive periods.” During a sensitive period, your child will grasp certain information more easily and naturally than at any other time in her life. Also, she will be inexorably drawn toward activities that specifically “speak” to these developmental tendencies.
If parents understand these sensitive periods and the needs that go with them, you can maximize your child’s natural desire to learn. This is what Maria Montessori called “spontaneous learning.”
“And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.” ~ Maria Montessori
With a deeper understanding of your child’s cycles of development, you can offer him the right tools or activities, at the right time. Fulfill his developmental needs, and suddenly you see your child settling down, calmly concentrating on a single task for an extended period of time, perhaps repeating the same task, over and over again. When you see this, rejoice! Your child is spontaneously learning!
On the other hand, if you do not provide the right tools and activities at the right time, or unknowingly disrupt your child in the midst of spontaneous learning, all of a sudden you’ve got a big, confusing tantrum to deal with.
Okay, but how do I provide the right tools, at the right time?
The answer to the question above is twofold. First, you must understand your child’s various developmental stages/ sensitive periods. Age of Montessori provides a wide range of resources on this topic, from articles and webinars, to a six-week online course. Check it out here:
Secondly, you must “follow the child.” In other words, when presented with a choice of age-appropriate activities, your child will follow her own interests, which will correspond with her current development.
“Interest is a great indicator of readiness.” ~ Age of Montessori founder, Mary Ellen Maunz
Your child needs access to materials that meet her developmental needs, and the freedom to choose from these materials. Parents can fulfill their child’s needs through understanding (of the sensitive periods), a carefully prepared environment (with appropriate materials for the sensitive periods), and observation (of which materials interest your child).
It is through appropriate work and activities that the character of the child is transformed. Work influences his development in the same way that food revives the vigor of a starving man. We observe that a child occupied with matters that awaken his interest seems to blossom, to expand, evincing undreamed-of character traits; his abilities give him great satisfaction, and he smiles with a sweet and joyous smile.
~Dr. Maria Montessori
Would you like to know more about giving your child the right tools at the right time? Don’t miss Age of Montessori’s next 6-week, on-line Child Development Course! It’s “like getting a Parenting Manual”!