The best way to help your child get to college is not necessarily found in the ramp-up years of adolescence. It will trace back to the foundation they built before kindergarten.
Child development experts and educators commonly emphasize the significance of the early years in a child’s life. During this critical time, children form secure attachments and acquire essential skills that can profoundly impact their future. The learning experiences during infancy, toddlerhood, preschool, and kindergarten hold unparalleled power compared to the ones that occur later in life.
From Zero to Three: “Sensory pathways such as hearing, language, and higher cognitive function all peak by the first three years of life … Each baby’s potential is unlimited. The window of time to provide a child with the foundation for success is not.”
From the Department of Health and Human Services: “Early childhood experiences from birth to age 8 affect the development of the brain’s architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health. A strong foundation helps children develop the skills they need to become well-functioning adults.”
Montessori uncovered this potential more than 100 years ago, and it’s why she said “education begins at birth.”
Early education in the Montessori approach is designed around these “sensitive periods,” or windows in an infant and young child’s life when learning is heightened and time-sensitive. Introducing certain skills and concepts to a child is not enough—it must be timed appropriately to their own drive to learn. Trying to teach a child a skill or concept before or after their sensitive period can be counterproductive, and it’s why Montessori educators are highly trained at individualized learning as well as understanding these sensitive stages universal to all children.
“The acquisitions he has made are such that we can say the child who enters school at three is an old man. Psychologists say that if we compare our ability as adults to that of a child it would require us 60 years of hard work to achieve what a child has achieved in the first three years…”Dr. Maria Montessori
Some of the sensitive periods supported in Montessori include:
- Movement – Recognizing the child’s innate need to move, Montessori schools never ask children to sit still in order to learn, since this can hinder learning.
- Order – Young children are sensitive to order. Montessori classrooms are carefully prepared in a way that is structured and orderly to further support the child’s ability to adapt, focus, and connect to their surroundings.
- Language – children enter this world with an absorbent mind, wired to absorb their native and secondary languages. Montessori educators expose children to an extensive and diverse vocabulary, avoiding the use of abbreviated or informal language.
- Refinement of the senses – Since children learn through sensory input, Montessori materials were designed to engage the child’s senses. Children are not asked to simply listen to the words of an adult.
The best way to invest in your child’s future is to prioritize their earliest experiences. It is not higher education that shapes a person; it is the early years.
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