Parents who are considering enrolling their child in a Montessori school and making a wise investment in their child’s education. While it might sound to some like it’s too early for children to begin their formal education before 3 years old, that’s actually far from the truth.
This article will explain to you why the ages of three through six are the years when some of the most significant learning takes place. We will also share with you several key benefits of Montessori education.
Dr. Montessori Defined “Sensitive Periods” of Early Childhood Development
There’s no mistake for the reason why Dr. Montessori began programming for children as young as age 3 and recommended her program for children through age 6.
During those years, most children undergo internal transformations that Dr. Montessori dubbed “sensitive periods.” Children enrolled in Montessori pre-school are equipped to flourish intellectually during these periods.
Dr. Montessori discovered that children from ages 3 to 6, children are forming the skills they must learn to become critical thinkers and lifelong learners. There are three distinct sensitive periods, and when a child is in an orderly environment that is conducive to learning, the results are tremendous.
Here are the three sensitive periods:
- Order: Children from around 2 years to 3.5 years of age have an inherent need to create order. This is when children learn to organize activities into a beginning, middle, and end. Later in life, this becomes the ability to grow self-reliant. They begin to focus on tasks from start to finish—you’ll see they want to start to help you make the bed, set plates on the dinner table, and feed the pets. Each of those is a short, orderly task that required follow through to completion.
Children in the Montessori environment are supported through this with a structured classroom that’s organized in a way to encourage this mindset.
These tasks carry on later in their academic lives and into adulthood.
- Movement: Up through the age of 4, children begin to refine both their gross and fine motor skills. They are intrigued by touching, smelling, and tasting objects. By 4 year of age, and with their sense of order better formed, they can better understand and interact with those objects.
They master gross motor skills, now controlling their own movements: hopping, climbing, skipping, and galloping. In addition, they begin to learn fine motor skills such as holding a paintbrush or pencil or cutting with scissors.
This sensitive period starts in infancy, but children enrolled in Montessori programming early are guided to mastery of these concepts before that sensitive period closes out.
- Language: Sometimes from ages 4 to 6, young children begin to form a more awareness of language. They begin to clearly distinguish between the sounds of different letters, add words to their ever-increasing vocabulary, and explore concepts like rhyming and alliteration.
By this age, they are able to follow a short story from start to finish without a case of the wiggles. In fact, they are likely to hang on every word you say during story time. You might even be surprised to find that children begin to read almost spontaneously without “formal teaching” of reading during this sensitive period.
The timing of each of these sensitive periods depends, of course, upon the individual child. Montessori teachers are trained to recognize these developments. Our classrooms are specifically designed to engage children during these periods and make learning beneficial to every child enrolled.
Your child learns many essential skills from ages three to six. A Montessori classroom harnesses that learning power and translates it into lifelong habits and a love of learning.
5 Benefits of Montessori PreSchool
Now that you have a clear image of the very early age at which children begin to really embrace advanced skills, we’d like to share with you some ways a Montessori program will benefit your child.
Self-directed learning: Because sensitive periods arise at different times, the self-directed learning environment in our schools takes advantage of those differences. Children who are learning language will be attracted to—and able to engage with—content that piques their interest. For example, you’ll find an abundance of books and puzzles in our classrooms to allow children to explore their budding interest in language.
Learning cooperation with others: As children work with each other in the Montessori setting, they begin to learn cooperation. In order to solve problems, children learn to ask each other for input and start to cooperate with minimal adult supervision. Learning cooperation with others is a life skill that will carry through into their elementary school education years and even beyond.
Creative problem solving: Children in a Montessori program learn to solve problems creatively. Because they are self-guiding their educations, these children are hands-on learners. They remain engaged in learning for the appropriate amount of time before moving on to the next task. These children even learn when it’s time to take a deep breath, step back a moment, and re-address a challenge under the guidance of our teachers.
A love of order: Because our classroom takes full advantage of facilitating that first sensitive period, order, children begin to love structure. Order is a skill that will serve them well at home, in school, and even in forming relationships with others. When a child has a love of order, he or she begins to be able to anticipate problems, be aware when a problem needs to be solved and becomes pro-active in ensuring their own success.
Teachers serve as guides: Montessori teachers break the stereotype of the teacher standing at the front of the classroom and doling out discipline. Instead, our teachers engage with children and support learning. When children need them, they assist. Otherwise, they remain watchful and gently suggest improvements to help further refine skills.
Our Invitation to You
We believe that all young children benefit from a Montessori setting. Instead of telling you, we want to invite you to come by Montessori School of Sugar Land for a tour. You’ll see why children flourish here. We are confident that once you’ve witnessed our program in action, you’ll agree!