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Moulding Minds
May 02 , 2013

I watch in awe as I stood under the big cherry tree my dad planted some few years back. I could remember vividly how Dad brought a seed home and I asked in my nostalgic novice mind what it was, he said it is a cherry nut and I probed further, asking if we can plant the seed, to that he gave me a nod but that planting the seed comes with a sacrifice on my own part; I will be the one watering the seed. Very happy I was. Diligent in my duties; I watered the soil with the seed buried in it dutifully and happily. Days gone by and the soil still looked blank and empty but on the thirteenth day after planting, the seed sprouted; such tender leaves full of life. Now standing under its shade with its succulent fruits, I ponder on how a blank soil and empty seed can bring out such magnificent tree.

Every child was born with an empty and blank mind notwithstanding the family background or antecedent but what grows out of such childish mind depends on factors such as family love, interactions, and mental abilities but largely it rests on the kind of seed and how well you nurture the mind of such child. Studies have shown that a specialized method of learning is needed to shape such childish mind, prepare such minds for larger and future educational tasks and also get the best out of such child; the Montessori. 

The Montessori Method of learning is an approach that tends to turn the classroom into a carefully prepared community hub, where the emotional, social, physical and the mental reasoning of the child are developed. The method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori; an Italian physician and educator, following years of observation on children and careful study of the classroom environment. From these scientific observations, she was able to deduce that children are born with unique and different learning abilities and rates, and that they learn best when they are allowed to learn at their own pace and allowed the liberty of their own classroom activities. 

The method is designed to guide a child right from birth until such child attains age 18. Respect is given to the child as like he or she is an adult, class activities are chosen or given to the child based on the childís intuition or likeness, thus promoting love in interest and vice versa between the child and the class activity he or she desired so to choose.

 Dr. Maria Montessori categorized the method of learning into four age-bracket groups, namely;

J Ages 0 to 3: This is a program that supports both infant and toddler be independent in activity such as toileting habits , learning not to depend on parental presence a hundred percent and also helps them develop and perfect their movement steps.

- Ages 3 to 6: This is also called Childrenís House and itís designed for Preschool and kindergarten kids. Furniture fittings such as child-height shelves, chairs and tables are fitted in such classroom to aid activities such as art, crafting, music, spooning/pouring, language and math skills development.

- Ages 6 to 12: These kinds of classrooms are normally referred to as Elementary classrooms. Here, lessons are more defined and broad and are presented to the children, after which they are given the liberty to follow up with independent work of their own interest. Outdoor activities are also given a priority so as to expose the children to the outside world. 

- Ages 12 to 18: This Middle and High School category of adolescent program work on activities that are less developed compared to that of younger children. It offers more of teaching and learning that creative activities.

In the 21st century, where critical thinking, teamwork and confidence are skill set highly sought after, Montessori Method of learning is the right foundation that offers children the platform to maximize their inert potentials as they are encouraged to be free, inquisitive, to question, and to socialize. And they step out into the world as responsible, equipped, competent, and respectful individuals who have an understanding and appreciation that learning and education is for life.

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Learn more about this author, Odunayo Iyiola.
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