Did you know that those IT guys who design ipads “so easy even a baby can use them” don’t allow their own kids to use them? Did you know that more than 50% of those Silicone Valley smart tech families send their children to Steiner schools (and many have been to Montessori schools themselves). Why? Because they observed that these children were so alert and open, so socially confident, so articulate, so observant of their environment…
Early childhood is the time that their spirits grow into their bodies, that they learn about the world by acting in it and on it and learning how to use their bodies as a tool like this little fellow who is practising to use the scissors. He is learning to coordinate his hands and eyes without cutting his fingers. He is totally focussed on the job. His brain is actually making neural pathways on which other skills can be built. Learning how to do things and do them well is a child’s job. And knowing you can do them is the basis of self- esteem and self- confidence. Don’t deprive them of that.
I have not heard people talk about ‘walking training; or ‘running training’ or ‘eating training’. Children will walk when their muscles are ready to carry their weight, run when they can confidently hold their balance and eat when they are hungry. Children will urinate and defecate when their body urges them to.
The ‘training’ really is about us teaching them how to inhibit themselves. We want to keep them and their clothes clean until we get them to a toilet, but frankly, children don’t care whether or not they are dirty or clean. They like to have a full belly, be warm when it is cold and be comforted when they are hurt, but they have no notion of hygiene or anything else. Mess? What mess? Dirty? Well, if you say so….Hygiene and cleanliness is a learned behaviour. It is really an adult problem and often turns into a battle of wills between parent and child unnecessarily. Ignorance and a perception that toileting has to be mastered preferably by the age of two are the main causes.
‘Life skills’ also means how to beautify one’s environment.
I read an article once about a war torn area, Lebanon it was from memory. There was a photo of a middle aged woman, dressed in black and her hair covered by a scarf, watering a rose with three red blooms that grew in the shelter of a tumbled down wall surrounded by rubble.
She said that as long as there was beauty she would foster it, for life would be unbearable without beauty and nature was providing her with hope for having saved this rose…I have never forgotten this article.
Children, even the very young, love beautiful things, but it will mean even more when they see us enjoying and nurturing and appreciating beauty.
Each child is unique and so is their way of solving problems. Here is an example of a child who many would judge at first sight as a ‘snatcher’, for he simply takes what he thinks he needs when he plays regardless of whether or not an item is held by another child.
Let’s call him Charlie. He is a very active three and a half year old who can speak in full sentences and totally zooms in to whatever his eyes are attracted to in a kind of tunnel vision manner. He is quite a fearless child and because of his verbal skill appears older than he really is.