“A child’s work is to create the man he will become. An adult works
to perfect the environment but a child works to perfect himself.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Ask a three-year old shoveling sand at the beach whether you can help
her, and she is most likely going to tell you “No, I want to do it by
myself!” Now ask the same question of an adult shoveling sand next to
her, and he will surely take you up on your offer! Adults and children
use their environment for different means. Adults are goal-oriented and
use their environment to achieve their goals as easily and efficiently
as possible; young children, on the other hand, use their environment
to construct themselves. Each new human being, from conception to
maturity, forms themselves by taking nourishment (literal and
figurative) from their environment: the womb, the home, the school, the
community. Modern research estimates that about 50% of our brain
development is genetic (i.e. nature) and 50% environmental, a function
of how that genetic potential is used or not used (i.e. nurture).
Dr. Montessori was one of the first educators to fully understand the
importance of a quality learning and living environment for young
children. She called it “The Prepared Environment.” Providing
children with an appropriate environment is of all the more importance
during the first six years of life, as they have an almost limitless
capacity for “taking in” the whole of their surroundings. At this age,
they are gifted with an “Absorbent Mind”: they have the ability to soak
up knowledge from their environment and teach themselves.
The importance of experience on brain development is significant and
can put a lot of pressure on parents to do the right things – as well
as instill a fear of not doing the right things. And marketers and
manufacturers surely know how to play on these worries. Nowadays,
parents are overwhelmed with advertisements for things they “need” for
their child. Most of these ads are aimed solely at selling; in truth,
many advertised products are actually detrimental to development.
A Montessori Home Environment is surprisingly different from what is commonly marketed.
It is economical, safe, uncluttered and answers children’s need to do
things by themselves. It provides calm, love and security, and fosters
the child’s physical, mental, emotional, social and moral development.
Indeed, what is fundamental in preparing a home environment is the
attitude of respect we communicate for the child and for ourselves. By
respecting both the needs of adults and children, the Montessori Home
Environment promotes a harmonious relationship within the whole family.