As a society, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of early childhood education. But just how important is it? Studies over the years have proven that stable, responsive, nurturing relationships and rich learning experiences in the earliest years provide lifelong benefits for learning, behavior and both physical and mental health (Shonkoff & Richmond, 2009).
The architecture of the human brain is constructed over time. During the beginning years, the child’s brain develops more and faster than any other time of his/her life - think of the amazing physical, intellectual, and emotional differences between a 6 year old child and a newborn baby! In fact, 95% of the volume of the human brain is developed during the first 6 years!
During these formative years, the child builds the fundamental capacities which lay the foundation for his/her social, emotional, behavioral, and intellectual skills for life. This foundation could either be fragile or strong depending on the child’s early experiences. The basic principles of neuroscience indicate that providing supportive conditions for early childhood development is more effective and less costly than attempting to address the consequences of early adversity later. To this end, a balanced approach to emotional, social, cognitive and language development will best prepare all children for success in school and later in the workplace and community (Shonkoff & Richmond, 2009).
While Montessori education is commonly reputable for contributing to children’s academic success, its focus on nurturing a “whole child” is often overlooked. In our dual-language immersion Montessori environment, following each child’s natural developmental needs, providing “stable, responsive, and nurturing relationship”, and protecting a child’s physical and mental health are just as important as offering “rich learning experiences”. In our mind, this is a true “balanced approach” to ensure children’s optimal growth.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from Dr. Maria Montessori.
Shonkoff, J. P., Richmond, J. B. (2009). Investment in Early Childhood Development Lays the Foundation for a Prosperous and Sustainable Society. Retrieved from http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/sites/default/files/dossiers-complets/en/importance-of-early-childhood-development.pdf.