When I used to think of childcare in the home, the first words that came to mind were nurture, love and guidance. These are the things that children, especially need during the early years of their life. Children come into this world ready to learn but with no ability to take care of themselves. They are dependent on their parents and families. Babies require lots of affection and care in the early years. Brain growth is stimulated by talking, singing, holding and cuddling, and all of which also promotes emotional development.
Research tells us that the first few years of a child’s life are very important for healthy growth and development. Children are building their foundation for skill building during these years. Their environment, the people in their lives and their experiences are all important. These are the key factors in a child’s life that will either strengthen their foundation or weaken it.
Now, when I think of childcare I think about what impact the providers have on the life of the child in their care. What footprint are they leaving after each interaction with a child? How do they approach a child’s needs and wants? How are they introducing them to new experiences to continue building their skills? Are they seizing the opportunities to teach children through their daily activities? These are the questions I ask about childcare. When I was introduced to Guidepost at Home and read their mission I knew that I’m not the only one asking these questions. Guidepost at Home is leading the way on making sure children flourish in their natural environments.
Children naturally learn through play. As Maria Montessori once said, "Play is a child’s work."
The Montessori method is viewed from the child’s natural eagerness to learn and initiate learning in their supportive environment. Learning, using this method, is not forced. Childcare in-home is the perfect place to incorporate this method of learning. Since home for a child means comfort, consistency and trust it will be easy for them to seek out new toys and activities to try when presented with the opportunity. I applaud Guidepost at Home for not only offering families the convenience of in-home childcare, but for also offering education based childcare that is inspired by the Montessori method.
Some may ask, can traditional education work in the same way with that natural comfort and ease? Let’s take a look at the differences between traditional education and the Montessori method.
Traditional Vs. Montessori Education
Traditional education is based on a form of learning that is teacher-centered. Children are expected to listen, memorize and repeat. Teachers create the lessons based on the curriculum and then present it to students. In traditional education classrooms or learning environments, children do not make decisions about what they are learning. They typically have no direct influence on the daily lessons. However, they are given a direct path to learning specific skills.
Montessori education is child-centered. Lessons are hands-on and developed naturally based on the child’s needs and interest. Children are allowed to creatively choose what they want to engage with, which will lend to their learning process. Teachers create activities that are age-appropriate for their students and then they are given opportunities to freely choose what truly interest them. Since children naturally develop at their own pace, they will also choose activities, toys and games based on where they are developmentally.
If you put Traditional education and Montessori side-by-side you would see the children on each side in very different ways. Their approach to learning will be different. Here are a few ways that the two education styles differ:
- Children learn through a hands-on approach
- Children are encouraged to engage lessons that peak their curiosity
- The personal interest of the child is highly respected
- Children move around and learn where they are comfortable
- Children learn through teacher-directed lessons
- Children are given curriculum-based activities
- The lessons are usually teacher-lead
- Children usually have assigned seating or sit behind desk or on chairs
I would never debate which method is right or wrong, because there will always be various forms of learning and teaching. Every family has to make their own decision as to what path they will start their child on. My hope is that every family, everywhere puts the needs of their child first and always takes the time to PAUSE to connect to what their child naturally responds to.
Monica J. Sutton is an early childhood development specialist and child behavior specialist who's created an online community of parents with young children. She helps parents guide children to be their best selves in challenging situations using her PAUSE Practice. With a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education, she has spent over 17 years working directly with children of all abilities and backgrounds in NYC classrooms. She combines her research-driven expertise and experiential hands-on results with the belief that every child has an individual path to greatness. Monica’s expert guidance has been featured on online publications including Kid Made Modern, Spark Box Toys, Peaceable Kingdom, Lifetime Moms and Essence, as well as on the TV news program Low Country Live. She’s been a speaker at Mommycon, Mom 2.0 Summit and Alt Summit. She is also the founder of the PAUSE Practice, a new way of thinking and approaching child behavior. You can find her at www.monicajsutton.com.