Recently, I’ve read several articles in which articulate, well-informed commentators caution parents against emphasizing academics for preschool children, and which advocate “developmentally appropriate play-based preschools” as a better alternative.
As the director of a Montessori school, one of the most frequent questions I get from parents is, “What should I be doing at home to help my child academically?” My answer is always the same: “Talk and read with your child.”
As a student, I started doing math on paper with a pencil; in Montessori the abstract process of math is the final step of a long series of exercises. To me, and most traditional school students, numbers on the page are just that – symbols we are taught how to manipulate. To Montessori students, those symbols represent very concrete ideas that they have physically manipulated; they fully understand what they mean, how they work, and why.
Dr. Montessori observed that children are already motivated to learn. We don’t need to impose motivation on them. In fact, if we give them a little encouragement, they’ll do far more than we would dare ask.