“… the first thing his education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature. This does not mean just to amuse him and let him do what he likes. But it does mean that we have to adjust our minds to doing a work of collaboration with nature, to being obedient to one of her laws, the law which decrees that development comes from environmental experience.” Maria Montessori (The Absorbent Mind, chapter 8, p. 89)
As an AMI Montessori school, development is the lens through which we see a child. We support not only a child’s learning but also his or her development. It is development that is the unfolding of the whole child: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, while learning is the acquisition of knowledge.
This is why the materials and lessons we introduce in class support not only a child’s learning but also a child’s development.
Montessori is pro-science. It is not anti-technology. While electronic devices are, in fact a tool to aid learning, there is no body of research that supports electronic devices as an aid to development. In fact the opposite is discussed in Glow Kids.
Physical delays, such as small and large motor control are compromised while social emotional difficulties in the form of executive function, emotional regulation, and screen addiction are exhibited.
Following the research, Montessori classrooms use technology as a tool in the following ways:
- Ages Birth-6: Not at all.
- Ages 6-9: Limited use (used last for research; to plan going outs; to connect with people who support technology, to craft the final written paper).
- Ages 9-12: Monitored expanded use because children have to function in the culture in which they live.
How does this look at home? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:
- Creating a Family Media Use Plan including rules for children and their parents, including designated “media free times”.
- Infants and toddlers should be “unplugged” but may Skype grandparents, and from 18 months old, high quality television content is okay as long as a parent watches with them.
- Children 2-5 years old less should have less than an hour a day with parents watching alongside to interpret and discuss what they’re watching.
- Children 6 years and older should follow the Family Media Use Plan.
Going forward, parents are asked to reflect on technology through the lens of development and be mindful when it comes to its use. In the end, it’s all about a healthy balance.