Child development from 0 to 6 years of age
As I promised you, I am now focusing on the first development plan, i.e. on the characteristics and needs of children from 0 to 6 years old.
Characteristics of the child from 0 to 6 years old
Maria Montessori named the child in the foreground “Moebelkind” or “the child – furniture”: for her the starting point of her discoveries is the adaptation of the furniture to the size and strength of the child to free her movement. A child needs to have both feet on the ground to access concentration, to be able to reveal his true nature.
A vulnerable being
The child in the foreground is a vulnerable, sensitive being who must be welcomed in humanity.
He needs order and attention.
A being of communication and language
A baby is a great communicator, he needs to be caught up in a language relationship to develop. Language and gestures are part of the child’s psychic food.
The child is a passionate explorer. He needs to exercise his movement to explore.
He’s a sensory explorer. Everything he apprehends from the world around him goes through his senses. The first organ of discovery is the mouth. From the moment he can sit down, he detaches himself from the ground, the hand is released and takes over to explore by manipulating. Through the senses he builds his inner world.
He also needs to repeat his experiences to build his psychological and physical life.
Responding to needs through appropriate environments
To meet these needs, the specific approach of Montessori pedagogy, as we have seen, is to provide adapted environments, known as “prepared environments”. There are 4 environments for the first development plan:
– The home (and yes! it is too often forgotten): from birth to 5-6 months
– The Nido: from 3 months until the guaranteed walk. The assured walk also corresponds to the acquisition of the clamp with the opposite thumb and the first intentional words. It is a real development stage.
– The children’s community: from walking to 2.5 to 3 years old
– The children’s house: from 2 and a half years old / 3 to 6 years old
These environments have common characteristics:
Order. Every object, every being has its place and order. The child withdraws his security from order and orientation
Motives for activities = psychic food. These reasons constitute the possibility of work.
Sensory stimulation tailored to the child’s needs.
They also have differences, which I will come back to later.
Adults are also part of the “environment”
The adult attitude (it is one of my favourite subjects, and I will often come back to it on this blog), must also be adapted, and different at each step:
At the Nido
- Observation. From birth to safe walking, the adult must observe the child with particular attention. This look helps to support the child’s activity. Observation is part of a search for the child’s new faculties.
- Attention. He needs to share, to be nourished by the relationship, which allows him to be more and more autonomous by keeping the good memory of the relationship.
- Intent. The gestures and the way of speaking to a child are very important because children are very sensitive and certainly perceive intention before meaning.
To the Children’s Community
- Attention = COLLABORATION. Adults should never do anything without a child. The child is encouraged to participate in all tasks in the community and at home. Autonomy develops through scaffolding. Any object offered to the child is presented, because the culture is TRANSMITTED. This transmission is formal or informal (the child observes).
- Maximum effort. The little child is a hard worker. The adult must provide him with opportunities for maximum effort: carrying furniture and other heavy things builds trust in the child, and shows that with effort, the world belongs to him.
At the Children’s House
- Providing an environment that allows sensory experiences, activities with a defined purpose, access to writing and reading in different languages (mathematics, language, music)
So much for the general attitude … but when and how to intervene with the child? This is a big question if we do not want to hinder its development, as Maria Montessori says.
That’s why in the next post, I’ll talk to you about sensitive periods.