In a Montessori school system, the primary focus is the whole child. As part of developing all of the elements of the whole child, the Montessori Method concentrates on educating the human potential.
Through character education, we are able to help each child unlock their personal potential. One of the character strengths we focus on here at Toddler Town is resilience. If we want our children to stand up to the inevitable challenges they will face in the future and keep going despite disappointment or frustration, we need to help our children develop resilience. This means they need to practice coping skills, and therefore needs some challenges to practice these skills with. Our children will learn to be much happier, more resilient people, when they can enjoy the sunshine when it is around and dance in the rain when there is no other choice.
Values education, such as courage, perseverance, honesty, kindness, patience, empathy, responsibility, self-sufficiency and curiosity, allows each child to explore the field of morality and learn to discriminate between right and wrong.
Social and Emotional development helps your child to figure out their sense of self, including feeling good about themselves and their abilities. They’re also developing social skills to get along in life with others, and emotional skills to help them recognise and express a wide range of feelings. Children’s social and emotional health is crucial, it affects their overall development and learning. Research indicates that children who are mentally healthy tend to be happier, show greater motivation to learn, have a more positive attitude toward school, more eagerly participate in class activities, and demonstrate higher academic performance.
In order to develop those areas, we expose our children to stories and experiences that model them, we give effective praise, we provide cues and we coach children on spot. We make sure that our guides make it a point to display these values on a daily basis, so they serve as role models to the students. We also concentrate on positive activities in order to prevent the formation of negative traits.
When your child asks, “Why is there a moon?” Don’t reply with a scientific answer. Ask him instead, “What do you think?” He will begin to understand that you are telling him, “You have your own mind and your own interpretation and your ideas are important to me”. Then you and he can look for the answers, sharing the wonder, curiosity, pain – everything. It is not the answers that are important, it is the process – that you and he search together.
Reggio Emilia is an approach to early childhood education that was developed in Italy by Loris Malaguzzi. It’s based on the belief that children have the ability and desire to construct their own knowledge. Our Reggio Emilia-inspired lessons are project-based. If children are interested in a certain subject and ask the teacher questions about a given topic, the teacher will engage students to learn for themselves, rather than just answer questions – a child realised and teacher framed approach to education.
The method focuses on the idea of a self-guided curriculum, where the students learn the curriculum through exploration and projects to tailor the learning to their interests. Teachers will not only document on paper how students are developing, but will also take photos and videos and review the information with students throughout the year to help them realise their own growth and the potential that lay ahead. Teachers play a dual role in the Reggio Emilia classroom. Their primary role is to learn alongside children, becoming involved in group learning experiences as a guide and resource.
The Waldorf method emphasises developing children’s feeling life and artistic expression – the heart part, as feelings are engaged. Imaginative play, art and creative activities, music, storytelling and authentic handwork are integrated into the academic curriculum, including mathematics and the sciences. The preschool years are recognised to be a special time in the development of the child. From birth through age seven, learning is largely experiential, imitative and sensory-based. Learning primarily through doing is the “hands” part of Steiner’s philosophy.
Waldorf education recognises that young children learn through imitation. Young children imitate not only what they take in through their senses, but even very subtle aspects of their environment, including the mood and thoughts of the people around them, teachers and family members. This requires that the early childhood teacher be dedicated to self-awareness and self-improvement in order to be a positive model for the children. Young children continually mirror back the lesser selves of the adults around them and show us where we need to be more diligent!