Early Education Success: 3 Simple Ingredients – PART 2
Right environment can give so much to a developing child. Young children are like a sponge and they will absorb everything around them.(“The absorbent Mind” by Maria Montessori). It is also the age when they are refining their senses and this builds their brain architecture. Have you ever seen a little child explore something? They will literally put it in their mouth, smell it, feel the texture and stare at it and notice all the small details that an adult is likely to miss. Look at their response to the slightest of the sound. In comparison an adult will probably look at something once, filter information and conclude in a second or not react at all. You see a child is literally taking everything in through his/her senses.
The brain developing inside is forming new connections as it experiences something. It may seem like an insignificant thing but this is what is developing the intelligence of the child. As the child repeats an action those connections become stronger. This is the reason why environment is so important. They don’t need over stimulating toys with blaring sounds and bright colored lights going on and off at the click of a button.
Natural, simple and beautiful toys are far better than piles of plastic junk. Trade filling your home with stuff with quality time spent outdoors. Let them experience and participate in the real world. They don’t need the latest gadgets to learn something, what they need is you. A cheerful, loving, attentive parent who includes the child in the daily affairs is far better than providing any of the ‘stuff’ out there. Talk to them and engage with them. Let them explore your kitchen. Kitchen is probably the best science lab for a young child.
Invest in open ended toys which feed the imagination of the child. By open ended toys i mean toys which can be played in many ways. Supply sufficient raw materials to help them take their play in any direction. Do not restrict or intrude their imaginative play or try to correct them using logic. Limiting screen time is also very important for young children. It may seem like the teaching gets easier when you use media. It may do that, but do you want your children to learn in such a passive way with so much stimulation? It does affect their concentration in the long run. There is plenty of research on this and its wise to limit it whenever possible especially with young children.
Environment also extends to the time spent outdoors. Parks, nature centers, museums, beach, trails, playgrounds, nature walks… any place which naturally lends itself to provide a beautiful environment should be used to our advantage.
Supplying good art supplies, different types of paper and child size materials/furniture/utensils also make the learning of everyday skills easy. This will eventually teach them independence which responds well to their developmental phases. Its a good idea to teach them morals, establish routines and chores while they are young.
When i was just starting out I made a lot of mistakes but soon I understood the concept. After that I would just have the kids around and engage them. Instead of worrying about finishing all my chores and errands and then doing something with the boys, i started looking at every situation as an opportunity to teach them something. I remember this one time when I was folding laundry with my older son(he was 4) and it was just natural and easy to teach him how to make pairs with his socks and taught him even and odd numbers using that. I never had to teach him that again.
Then I had some work at the post office, intead of leaving him home, i took him along and showed him how it works and brought some books from the library and read some more about what happens to all the mail and then as a follow up made him memorize our address. Then we moved on to make a map of our house, street, city in nesting circles to show where we live in the world. We had covered math, social studies, safety, read aloud, chores all in one afternoon because I took a different approach.
You see the opportunities are endless and with a young child its so easy to just follow their interest and use your everyday life to make the world accessible to them. So you could get them interested in multiple subjects effortlessly without using any curriculum if you just choose to be inclusive and engaged. Use your own life, whatever phase of life you are in, to teach something. You don’t have to go out of your way to do anything unnatural or buy lots of curriculum. Remember that environment can be made such that learning becomes inevitable. So strive for such an environment while they are still young.
“To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely” – Maria Montessori
“The teacher must adopt the role of a facilitator not content provider” – Lev S. Vygotsky
Click Here for PART 1 of this article
Click Here for PART 3 of this article