The Primary Aged Child
In the previous posts, about The Montessori way, we considered the basic Montessori principles that make the method still relevant to our education system and discussions.
We have also considered the preschool child’s needs and how to meet them as they develop.
In this post, we will look at the Primary school child, aged between 6 -12 years.
First, I would like us to look at the ages mentioned above and discuss in brief why 6 -12 and not 4 or 5 to 8 or 10 which are the ages we usually think children should start and or end Primary school.
To start with, we must remember that each child grows and develops at their own individual pace, none the less, children do have developmental traits which inform major shifts in their learning process.
Let me explain.
A preschool-aged child learns through the senses. This means they need experiences and not teachers lecturing them. They need hands-on, concrete activities.
This learning characteristic may start fading as early as age 5 but may not completely fade away till some children are 7 years or above!
The primary school child learns in a completely different way, they love using their mind, imagination, and thinking capabilities. They are thinkers.
This is why putting 4-year-olds in Primary 1 and 8-year-olds in JSS 1 may not be appropriate for their developmental stages.
Now, your reasoning child needs a different approach to learning. They do not need someone opening up their brain to learn facts. These children want to know the why’s and how’s.
These children are ready to research and communicate their findings, they do not need us writing long notes on the board for them to copy.
Your primary-aged child wants to find out more about topics that interest them. They also want to work together in teams. This is the place to help them get grounded in teamwork.
They will need this soft skill as adults, let them practice it now that they are wired to learn and use this skill.
The child between 6 and 12 years old also has a sense of right and wrong, they want things to be fair. We need to be sensitive to their inner needs, when we as adults continue to disrespect the child and treat them in a shabby manner, that need for justice, for right and not wrong, dissipates very quickly.
When this happens we should not act shocked or surprised, as we were the unprepared adults, the bad role models that have created the problem.
The foundations we lay are pivotal to the success of the child in learning the right social skills at this stage of their development.
Providing them with the ability to develop great friendships, and learn how to work and play together, all add up to make a successful pre-teen child ready for the next step.
Montessori Primary brings this and more to the table. I will therefore like to encourage us to look deeply into this before we throw the baby and the water out.
Sometimes it is we as parents that do not understand what our child needs!
At other times it is we the teachers that believes that the Primary school child is still that pre-schooler that needs only hands-on activities in the classroom to learn.
We sometimes concentrate on making children memorize so much information, thank goodness they can do this effortlessly. At least that is in comparison with our ability as adults to do the same!
At the end of the day, it is not so much how much the child memorizes that matters, let us also concentrate on the joy of learning, which is where the Montessori method makes that big difference.
With a wide curriculum scope the Montessori method offers in the Primary and even Nurser school setting, not everything is covered or can even be covered, but the child can follow their interest by researching, and what is covered by the teacher all adds up to deeper learning than we could ever imagine.
In conclusion, as we prepare for the new session let’s ensure that our teachers are prepared to provide great age-appropriate learning experiences for our children.
We will continue our journey next time by looking at the concept of Discipline and the tools at the disposal of the Montessori educator.
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