Every once in awhile, I have a parent come into Petit Paris during particular parts of the day when the kids are working on an independent project and remark, “It’s like a library in here!” At first, I didn’t know if this was a criticism or a compliment, so I wanted to explain the rationale behind the seemingly oxymoronic phrase “quiet preschool.”
My approach to early childhood education is influenced by the Montessori Method. If you are not familiar with the theory underlying this concept, it’s an interesting subject for sure. There are plenty of resources online that detail elements of a Montessori education; check out http://montessori-nw.org/what-is-montessori-education/ for an overview.
Instead of relying on imaginative play for the majority of instruction as a plethora of preschools do in the U.S., the Montessori Method focuses on a more reality-based, practical-task orientation for instruction. Although it might seem like a BORING way to manage instruction in a pre-school, and children definitely need unstructured playtime in order to be psychologically and physically healthy, they should (hopefully) be getting this at home.
School-time should be a separate category of experience for children. With task-oriented, practical problem-solving instruction that requires some quiet attention, a child’s brain begins to wire itself to working in a focused, self-reliant manner that will set them up for success for the rest of their lives.
Some of the tasks that I have my group working on include practical learning such as buttoning shirts/zipping articles of clothing, wiping down their play areas with soap and a sponge, etc. Academically, I prepare my students for Kindergarten by working on “My Writing Journal” exercises, perfecting sight word knowledge, implementing phonics skills to achieve an advanced reading level, and teaching arithmetic skills to promote math literacy early on. Such exercises really motivate a student to use their individuality and problem solving skills to achieve a goal. Isn’t this a basic requirement for life? J Like I already mentioned, unstructured play is important, but why pay for an education in imagination if your child already has this for free in your living room?
Besides, I have seen many children able to navigate iPads, smartphones, multiple game systems, and other electronic devices like professionals by the age of four! I believe that a little bit of a low-tech environment is beneficial for the mental health of a child, and I have seen the positive changes in the attention spans, hyperactivity level, listening-skills, and social skills in the youth I educate!
Sometimes, enjoying the sound of silence is the best music for the budding brain!