“…Education is not something which the teacher does, but a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in the virtue of experience in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.”- Maria Montessori
Let us Correlate Maria Montessori’s philosophy to foster the writing skills in a child:
The 3 parts of process of learning and the five steps to learning
According to Maria Montessori, the process of learning has three parts:
- the brain,
- the senses and
- the muscles
All the above three mentioned must cooperate for learning to take place. So teachers must let the children see-do and learn rather than explain and learn.
“ Immense strain that we impose upon the children when we set them to write directly without a previous motor education of the hand.”- Maria Montessori
In the Montessori Method there are two exercises connected to writing- How to hold the implement and How to form the alphabet and many of the didactic equipment used in the Montessori system contribute to this motor development for instance, the rough and smooth cards- “when the hand learned to hold itself slightly suspended over a horizontal surface in order to touch rough and smooth.” Or while playing with the cylinder insets, “when the hand took the cylinder insets and placed them in their apertures.” (the same three fingers used in writing) and while playing with the geometrical inset trays, “when with two fingers it touched the outlines of the geometrical forms it was coordinating movements.”
According to Maria Montessori there are five steps to learning:
1. Observes demonstration:
In teaching anything to the child, always demonstrate it first, because children learn best through imitation. So, when a teacher is teaching a child to hold a crayon, scissor or how to write with a pencil, the first step of a teacher should be to demonstrate and show the correct way.
2. Participating stage:
Then is the participating stage where the child tries out what was demonstrated / taught. At this particular stage the child does not require your constant help but all that they ask for is your presence and guidance.
Now it’s time for practice and repetition. The more a teacher revisits the writing readiness activity / information the more it strengthens. Don’t confuse repetition with drill!
4. Eureka moment:
At this stage the teacher will experience the moment where the child has mastered what she has taught and is excited, enthusiastic about the writing readiness activities. Teacher should keep in mind that at this stage the child wants to do the activity again and again, try it in many different ways etc. Here teachers must not get irritated and ask them to change the activity. The same enthusiastic is required from the adult too.
Now the children have mastered the writing readiness activities and will be able to do it well, whenever required.
Today as new educational philosophies and approaches emerge we tend to throw the old out of the window. Its time to start taking the best from all –old and new and create an early years pedagogy that is rooted in science, neuroscience, and child development. Children in the early years around the world develop similarly in the first 5 years so adapt global practices to your culture and let children have a stress free start to life and learning.