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Kathy’s Insights

Insights on the Montessori method and Early Childhood Education from Dr. Kathy Roemer

Childhood Traits That Predict Adult Success

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This morning I had a humorous conversation about childhood traits that predict adult success. Is it yearning to be someone you are not? Is it wishing your family had the financial ability to host a birthday party in a private jet? Is it wearing the name-brand clothing and sneakers? Or is it being able to delay gratification, finding joy in small things, reading for pleasure or being a good friend?

Over the past 10 years, more research has been conducted and written about the traits that predict adult success for a well-rounded, productive life. The term executive function has become the buzz word to describe the personal growth and development of a person from birth to late-twenties in terms of judgement, planning, organizing, using working memory and flexibility in thinking. This development happens in the frontal cortex and is added by the emotional centers of the brain.

Executive functions cover a variety of skills that allow one to organize behavior in a purposeful, coordinated manner and to reflect on or analyze the success of the strategies employed (Banich, 2004). Executive functions include processes such as goal selection, planning, monitoring, sequencing, and other supervisory processes which permit the individual to impose organization and structure upon his/or her environment (Foster, Black and Bronskill, 1997).

Maria Montessori understood child development and wrote about these important skills in 1912. She understood that environment influences “spontaneous discipline, continuous and happy work, social sentiments of help and sympathy for others.: Executive function skills are encouraged in a Montessori classroom where a love of order and work, concentration and the power to act from real choice exists and leads one to self mastery. “For it is from the completed cycle of an activity from methodical concentration, that the child develops equilibrium, elasticity, adaptability, and the resulting power to perform the higher actions, such as those which are termed acts of obedience.” (Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, 1914).

A longitudinal study, conducted by Pennsylvania State University that included 753 Kindergarten aged students followed into adulthood suggested that children’s emotional intelligence could set the stage for professional and interpersonal success throughout life. Montessori educators agree with these findings.

For additional suggestions of ways you can increase your child’s executive function capacity. Download Harvard University’s activities guide Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence.

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Ten Reasons to Choose Montessori Education

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  • 1. Successful education for over 100 years. The first Montessori children’s house was started in 1907 and the philosophy has spread to all continents and many languages. Montessori is an international method of teaching and learning.
  • 2. Montessori is a philosophy for life. Through promoting independence as a young age, children have freedom to choose and develop into life long learners. Children are joyful in Montessori classrooms.
  • 3. Focus on learner outcomes including executive function skills: working memory, planning, sequencing, delayed gratification, grit, organizing and other capabilities that enable a person to engage successfully in independent, purposive, self-serving behavior.
  • 4. Beautiful, thoughtful, educational manipulative materials. Children learn through their senses first and with their hands and minds. Materials and lessons move from concrete to abstract.
  • 5. Focus on Peace within yourself, with each other, in the classrooms and in the world at large. When conflict happens children learn to process with one another and are able to problem solve using appropriate verbal skills.
  • 6. Lessons in Practical Life that allow children to do daily chores and learn to take care of themselves and their belongings. This produces confidence that is long lasting.
  • 7. Global awareness and cosmic curriculum that exposes children to the universe, community and his place within the world in which they live.
  • 8. Curiosity is encouraged and children learn to ask hard questions. Children are encouraged to find their own answers and teachers and students often learn together.
  • 9. Learning individually at the children’s own pace in an non-competitive environment and they are celebrated for who they are and what they have achieved.
  • 10. Belief that parents are the child’s primary teachers. Provides encouragement for the families to build systems based on respect, courtesy and mutual responsibilities.

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Kathy’s Insights