In the early 1900’s, Maria Montessori developed a system of education to help children in the first few years of life develop in a multitude of ways. This form of education, for children from birth to six years, incorporates the needs to not only be healthy, well-fed and safe, but also to learn a variety of skills and to be active learners. We understand that children are born ready to learn and this type of education is an approach to teaching the whole child. In their first years, children’s cognitive, social-emotional, movement, and language skills are highly intertwined and enmeshed. Learning in the first six years sets the stage for learning for the rest of a child’s life – the brain is very malleable and neural networks are being laid down in the child’s first years; they do not get a second chance at healthy brain development.
We know that children are born with minds that are empty vessels needing to be filled or blank slates to be written upon. They are born ready to learn, with all the architecture already in their brains; all the neurons they will have in their life are already in there—billions of them! What happens as young children learn and grow is that some connections between neurons are strengthened and other neurons get pruned or eliminated. Connections are strengthened by the child’s experiences; routine interactions between the child and a caregiver or between a child and a learning activity set up patterns of neural activity that are strengthened by repetition. Montessori materials enable children to concentrate because they are able to move freely and choose activities in which they are interested. We know that when someone is highly interested in anything, that is where he/she will focus attention. We capitalize on this principle of learning to enable children to develop a high level of concentration at a very young age.
In our Montessori environment, children are encouraged to speak, read, write and be excellent communicators. The language area of the Montessori curriculum is a subject of much interest and is unique in its approach. Because of the “absorbent” quality of the child’s mind under the age of six, the oral language environment that they are exposed to constitutes the substance of the language they will eventually understand and speak. We ensure that the language we speak to very young children who are acquiring language is clear and not overly-simplified, and that it is informative as well as engaging! Essentially, we want children to learn the best form of our language’s vocabulary and speech patterns.
There is an inner drive in every one of us, an inner voice that, if we listen to it, tells us which way to turn, which option to choose. If we allow children to listen to this voice, to follow their interests from birth, they are likely to learn a great deal about themselves and their world as they grow. They will learn what they like and what they don’t like. They will come to know what they are good at, and how they are challenged. The focus that comes from doing what interests them will allow them to learn many things and become confident learners.
Montessori learning sets the stage for future success, as RMS continues in its quest of “Nurturing Tomorrow’s Achievers”.