When a child is born the first means of learning open to the child is through the senses. To think that a child begins to learn when you take them to school is not a realistic concept. If this were true then how come a baby born helpless learns to sit at three months, crawls at 10 months, and starts walking as a one year old? These are skills the child learns, and before he is two and a half he has started talking most of the time?
The truth is a child is always learning, so is the human adult, we continue to learn daily till the day we go to meet our maker. The problem children face all over the world is that adults have an erroneous idea of how to assist the child’s learning process. We usually think that the child is an empty vessel that needs to be filled with lots of facts and knowledge about life. We therefore feed the child with lots of information he or she has to learn. This form of education is based on giving facts and figures that must be memorized without necessarily understanding the facts that have to be known. Even when we try to explain these facts to the children, the way we explain them does not neccesarily mean that the children understand.
Let me give you an example. If I want a child to understand that one and one makes two. I first write 1 on the board and 2 and 3, touching each number and then naming them. The child learns to recognise the numbers. I may even use dots to represent each quantity. Then I explain that when I put 1 and 1 together it makes 2. I may even use dots as well as the numbers to explain this concept. Usually what happens if the child does not get it at this point, we as adults think there is something wrong with the child, that she is not a quick learner! We do this because the concept we want the child to grasp is easy enough for us to understand, infact it is the most simplest of concepts when we manipulate numbers. What is not to understand!
We would have totally missed the whole point though, because this same child, if given the opportunity to count objects, recognising the one on one correlation of counting objects, would easily understand later the idea of ‘one and one makes two’.
The problem is that we have spent time talking at the child, but given the same child no opportunity to experience the concpts we want him to learn.
We compound the confusion by going on to tell the child that ‘Eleven is one and one’! And then we wonder why children struggle so much with understanding Mathematical concepts.
One and One makes Two, not eleven
Ten and One makes Eleven
A child must begin the process of learning through the senses, make it practical, give them things to touch, taste, smell, see and hear. You must also give them time to focus on these things. A child need to learn to concentrate and must repeat the processes, until they come to a place of true internal knowledge about the concepts you want to introduce to them.
Your child from one to six years old is a sensorial learner, he needs experiences and not people just telling him things. Do not expect your child to just to suck it up and remember facts thrown at him. That is why Maria Montessori once said:
“Never give the mind what has not first been experienced by the hand”
Please make your times with your child count, at home or in the classroom, make the best use of your interactions. Activities where they can touch and learn about things are much more beneficial than making them memorize concepts. When they experience things their brains are making connections and building strong bridges, where knowledge is internalized and abstractions are made and understood. You will not need to define things for the child, he can explain his experiences and define concepts himself, because he has been able to experience the concept. He will therefore not forget.
What I have explained in a few words is the bedrock of why the Montessori method of education works so effectively and why Montessori children do so well. This is what makes children from Addlo Montessori School standout and this is what we help our Student Teachers and schools achieve with the Montessori Teacher’s Program and Professional Diploma in Montessori Education.
Children are not adults, they need to learn via their senses, it is our duty to ensure that we prepare the children for their future with a deep understanding of the concepts that will enable them to make a great impact in their world. Giving them great experiences that encourage learning of concepts is the key to achieving this aim.