Many parents think of preschool as a place where children learn their alphabet, color, sing songs, and learn to be part of a group. At Mountain Shadows, we understand your child’s early years have vast potential to be so much more. That’s why we can say we are much more than a preschool or daycare: We are the foundation for your child’s future learning.
A Method Based on Your Child’s Development
Because this is such a special time in your child’s life, you want a learning environment that takes into account your child’s general development, as well as the uniqueness of each child in his or her classroom.
Mountain Shadows Montessori School provides uniquely designed activities for your child that encourage a full range of challenging interests. In each classroom, a specially trained Montessori teacher uses instructional methods, activities, and materials that have been scientifically proven to meet the needs of developing children around the world.
Early Education: A Time for Growing Independence
At about three years of age, your child is ready to move from the security of your home into a somewhat broader environment. While still needing the consistency from parents and home, he or she is ready to discover a larger world. In a specially prepared physical and social environment, your child will receive individualized instruction that addresses his or her specific needs and developmental stage. Your child will also get to experience the joy of participating in and contributing to a larger group, discovering new ideas and relationships, and extending concentration and competence during activities he or she chooses.
How 3-year-old Children Learn
Although they enjoy exploring in very tactile ways (finger-painting and sandbox play are good examples), children of this age also love order. They spontaneously concentrate on precise activity and show independence and initiative. You want a school that allows intense self-generated attention because that is how we all learn. Your child’s school must allow for:
- deep concentration;
- time to explore and complete activities;
- opportunities to repeat and perfect that learning.
Otherwise, your child can become frustrated and lose interest. A consistent environment and transparent structure will support this type of investigation.
Child Development: “Let Me Do It!”
This is not an uncommon exclamation from toddlers, and every parent can rightly consider it a positive sign of appropriate development (not to mention a bit of a relief!). Your growing child is ready to try things on their own (under supervision, of course), and your support and encouragement is very important at this critical stage.
You also know that your child craves meaningful activity. So she or he wants to sweep up real spills, cut real flowers, fold real napkins. This is why some children tire of toys that pretend to be adult activities. Real wrenches and real mops, sized for children, allow them to participate in purposeful work that validates their helpful natures. Children love to contribute to their home environment and allowing them to participate keeps that helpful spirit alive. Too often, it can be crushed by well-intentioned but unnecessary anxiety from parents and other care-givers.
Everything in its Place
Some adults don’t realize that children love order, which is actually a key to learning. This is one reason that Montessori classrooms are extremely organized. As they are learning, young children are constantly classifying objects and experiences. Grouping and sorting is important work for them! This is also why a bedtime routine, for example, or a favorite ritual can be so soothing.
This innate sense to follow a path helps children build logical thinking. For adults, this need for order becomes less central to our learning or other needs. So sometimes adults unknowingly disturb a young child’s innate sensitivity by rearranging the environment, including both people and objects, and by not allowing children enough time to explore and orient themselves to new experiences. Something as simple as rearranging the furniture, for example, can trigger unease or negative reactions in three-year-olds.
For the benefit of your child, a school and a teacher must be aware of these sensitivities, as well as many other aspects of child development that are often not taught in regular preschool education classes. Our teachers at Mountain Shadows Montessori School spend hours observing children to deeply understand how each age is different and how each child is unique.
The Right Support at the Right Time
Your child deserves the best learning experience you can provide. Highly trained Montessori teachers, specific age-appropriate Montessori materials, and a consistent and supportive learning environment will help your child make the most of this important time of childhood.