By Elizabeth Caloghiris
Recently I attended a conference about education in the future. It was stated that one in three of us would suffer mental health issues during our lifetime. With this in mind, we need to consciously think how we can help our youngsters to develop good “well-being” during their early years. If we set things in place at the beginning we hope they won’t have to struggle to change later on.
I researched to see what concepts attributed to good Well-Being.
- Feeling good about yourself
- Not over whelmed by emotions- fear, anger, anxiety
- Good relationships
- Satisfaction with life – fulfilment
- Can laugh at your self and with others.
How does the Montessori Approach to education help the child to develop good “Well-Being”?
From the moment the children enter our environment we show trust in them. We give them glass jugs, china plates, real knives and scissors. We show them how to use each item, how to carry it safely and how to put it away. Then we leave them alone, trusting them. What does it feel like, when someone trusts you with something special?
Yes, things get broken, a mistake! Mistakes are good, they shouldn’t be hidden or shied away from, we learn from our mistakes. It is important that our children don’t feel the need to be perfect, their perseverance and determination should receive the praise and encouragement, not the end result.
The children learn that things can break and be dangerous, so they gain respect for them and treat them with more care.
In the class, we encourage the children to be independent, to get on with their activity without the influence of the adult’s expectations. This freedom to act combined with independence enhancing skills, allows the child to develop autonomously and gain confidence.
We must allow our children to take risks, physical and emotional. Children are good judges of their own capabilities. Trust in your children, when they feel believed in, their confidence will grow and they will develop their self-belief.
If your child is walking along a wall, then they will make it to the end, but if you say, be careful! Then they could probably fall, as you have distracted them, by your interference.
Not giving your child the opportunity to take risks, will have an effect on their decision making skills, as they will be more apprehensive to try new things.
Emotionally, if we cushion our children and don’t allow them to experience let down, disappointments, failure, by jumping in quickly to make things better, our children won’t learn coping strategies.
Children have a natural enthusiasm for making their own choices, investigating, exploring, questioning and experimenting, in essence taking risks. We must foster this and allow it to grow.
The principals of the Montessori Approach are that children learn through choosing, trying and doing it themselves, rather than being told.
“Trust the child,
without risk taking,
children don’t reach their potential”
It is important to make the children aware of the risks that can happen. It is about making the child understand and supporting their knowledge, so that they can make fully informed decisions for themselves.
Risk taking needs to be practised and learnt over time, by empowering children
in their self management, trusting them to make a decision around a risk and allowing them to push themselves to that point of risk or danger, we are enabling them to practice risk assessment skills, consistently giving them confidence in their own abilities.
A risk taker becomes an independent thinker who develops into a confident
If our children succeed they’ll feel pride, exhilaration and a sense of accomplishment.
If they fail, they’ll suffer pain, or embarrassment or disappointment.
Either way they’ll grow.
Feeling the pleasure of success or learning the coping skills to weather the frustration of failure and to develop perseverance is equally important.
It can be difficult as parents to allow our children to take risks we feel it’s our duty to protect them. We need to discuss with our spouses, partners what we are comfortable with, before we discuss with our children the risk involved and the precautions that need to be taken. This varies so much on the age of your child, example: playing in the grass with no shoes on, to going to the local shops all
Help to build your child’s confidence by using positive language. If your language is fearful (don’t go there / do that; come down, it's too high; that’s dangerous) children will be develop anxiety, not confidence. Say instead, “show me how careful you can be” or “where do you think your foot can go next?” and ask them to talk you through their decision-making.
In summary the Montessori Approach to Education encourages children to grow as individuals, in a social community. The children are shown trust, by the materials they are offered and by the independent activities that they are motivated to carry out. They are encouraged to take responsibility while working alongside others. The children are constantly making their own discoveries and sharing the joys and trials of daily class life. Montessori developed her materials so that children could learn to solve their own problems and develop the sense of satisfaction in doing so. The children follow their personal interests, and soon learn the joy of discovery.
I do feel that the Montessori approach to education is truly an education for life and will make good strides to ensure that our children grow up with good Well- Being.
Deux Mille Feuilles
École Montessori Bilingue
Bilingual Montessori School
Route des Bois 2, 1278 La Rippe, Vaud (near Nyon)
Phone: +41 76 580 61 78