In 2021, an estimated 500,000 children were enrolled in Montessori schools in the US. The Montessori method is a child-centric form of education that shifts away from the traditional methods of conventional schools. While there's no evidence that Montessori education can better develop a child's intellect than its traditional counterpart, a study from Frontiers in Psychology found strong evidence of enhanced psychological well-being among adults who attended Montessori schools as children.
The study found that the Montessori curriculum boosts childhood and adult well-being by focusing on activities promoting self-determination and meaningful work, as well as social stability and cohesion. As such, a focus on brain-building activities that will help nurture children's mental and emotional well-being from a young age is essential. Today, we'll go over some of the critical brain-building activities for Montessori toddlers:
While roleplay between young children may seem like silly skits and playtime to adults, the activity can be nourishing and more beneficial than it looks. A recent study called "Developmental Stages of Social Emotional Development in Children" notes that most children cannot yet distinguish between reality and imagination. As they master roleplaying skills, they can better differentiate between the imagined and the real. Roleplay can also bring shy children out of their comfort zones in a fun and engaging manner, helping them overcome feelings of fear or shame.
Aside from letting a child's imagination run wild, roleplaying is key to developing children's personalities on cognitive and emotional levels. It allows them to "be" in unfamiliar situations without risks, challenging them to solve problems on the go, and respond well to change through improv skills. Providing props, costumes, and other accessories can help your child get into this activity's spirit.
Due to a focus on letting children take charge of their activities in a Montessori, kids are encouraged to learn new topics in ways they are most comfortable in. One such method is reading. Insights on literacy development in children from Maryville University emphasize the importance of early literacy development to a child's success in school and life, with researchers estimating that 43 million US adults have low literacy skills which impair their cognitive abilities. They also note that reading strengthens brain function and stimulates brain development, all while promoting socio-emotional skills that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
For parents wanting to see improvements in their little ones' reading habits, our Wood and Hearts blog post on reading and writing highlights the importance of setting a good example. You can start by reading to kids out loud, as building the habit can encourage kids to read on their own eventually.
Kids are active and mobile in nature, and letting them explore the physical aspects of life can provide them an outlet for all that energy — while keeping them fit and healthy from a young age. Research from Yogyakarta State University found that goal-oriented play activities can vastly improve children's motor skills. Allowing children to engage in physical activities through play can help develop agility and reaction skills. This is important because children who grow and develop low motor abilities might lose confidence.
While play among children may seem meaningless and rowdy for parents, encouraging goal-oriented mobility activities can train them better to use their muscles and bodies at an early age. Investing in mobility-engaging toys for children like our WoodandHearts collection can help encourage beneficial play for them while keeping them away from climbing furniture that may be unsafe or valuable. Of course, like all other child's play, parental or guardian supervision is the key to avoiding accidents and injuries.
Submitted by Isabella Lucas for woodandhearts.com