The social development of the three to six year old child is something that is often overlooked in our academically-focused world. Social Development is something that is essential to the overall development of the child.
The social development of the child is aided by the role of the family and the role of the classroom environment. Independence must be fostered at home in order for the child to be successful and independent outside of the home. Fostering independence at home includes encouraging the child to do anything from dressing himself or herself to helping to prepare each meal. Dr. Montessori wrote about how the child of this age implores us to "help me do it by myself." When we are encouraging the child to be independent we are aiding in the crucial development of the child.
At school, the children are experiencing independence, responsibility, choice and working with specially designed materials that are developmentally appropriate. The environment is specially designed to promote concentration, coordination of movement and independence. The materials are limited - there is one of each material, not multiples of the same material. This offers a perfect opportunity to practice basic grace and courtesy and learn how to interact with one another in the most peaceful way.
The Practical Life area of the casa supports and develops concentration, independence and control of movement that feeds into the later work of the child in the other three areas (Sensorial, Language and Math).
The children in each primary casa accept the unspoken responsibility to be willing to help one another, which is yet another benefit to the mixed-age environment.
The younger children look up to the older children, and the older children take care of the younger children. And sometimes, the younger ones find ways to help the older ones.
Our active community lends itself to responding to the developmental needs of each child. The children have the freedom to choose where to work and with whom to work. Isn't it wonderful that as young as age three and as old as age six, children can be offered the opportunity to practice essential life skills and basic problem solving during such a formative time? Think of all the group work that they will encounter later - even beyond the school years!
Choosing with whom to work provides the children with opportunities to foster relationships with their peers in learning to work with each other. These relationships offer real-life situations that require problem solving.
And learning to offer just enough help allows for a chance at success and building confidence.
“Our schools show that children of different ages help one another. The younger ones see what the older ones are doing and ask for explanations. These are readily given and the instruction is really valuable, for the mind of the five-year-old is so much nearer to ours than to the mind of a child of three, that the little one learns easily…There is a communication and a harmony between the two that one seldom finds between the adult and the small child."
~ Dr. Maria Montessori
We are an AMI accredited Montessori school growing daily in spirit & intellect!