Sunday, July 21, 2019

Teaching Children to be Big Helpers

One of the key learning outcomes of Montessori pre-school and elementary schools is the independence children gain. Through Montessori education, children are encouraged to become self-taught learners and autonomously pursue their curiosity. A secondary outcome of this cultivated independence is that children get to learn how to be big helpers as a result of feeling confident and capable. Read on to learn three ways the Montessori method teaches children to be helpers by using the right tools, encouraging skill exchange, and practicing care for the environment.

Using the right tools

A Montessori elementary school is full of classrooms that are geared toward the children who use them. This is called the prepared environment and means every learning, food, or cleaning tool is designed for the developmental stage of the children in the classroom. Additionally, the classroom itself is scaled to meet children’s physical needs and abilities, so they can manipulate the space as they require. The emphasis on providing the tools and space for children to meet their own needs allows them to offer help in the tasks they are capable of performing. A simple example from a Montessori classroom is the accessibly placed and appropriately sized brooms and waste bins that encourage children to help out their teacher and class by cleaning up - something families can do in their homes as well.

Encouraging skill exchange

The mixed-age groups of Montessori classrooms have a lot of positive benefits for their students. One of which is the practice of teaching or mentoring other students. As children gain proficiency and mastery of the learning topics and activities, they are encouraged to partner with other students who can learn from their skills. The older children in the classroom also work with the younger ones to help them navigate the classroom expectations and schedules, sharing their experience as it is their second or third year in that class and program. Montessori schools directly encourage peer leadership, showing children examples of big helpers and giving them opportunities to emulate that practice immediately.

Caring for the environment

One of the fundamental tenets of the Montessori philosophy is care for the environment. This concept is explored in both the smaller scale of caring for the classroom environment and its students and teachers, as well as in the larger scales of school, community, and ecosystem. Children are taught to care for the settings they use and rely on and learn how their actions impact the greater class network. This connection between the individual child and the world around them is explored at every age and helps children understand from the start what it means to be a “big helper” in every sense.