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Independence – is this the most important skill to ensure our children reach their potential?

Independence – is this the most important skill to ensure our children reach their potential?

At Sunshine Montessori our aim is that by the time your child moves on he/she will be able to go out into the world with happiness and confidence, ready to extend him/herself to the full and equipped with a love of learning and the necessary skills to enable him/her to reach his/her potential in life.

 

One major obstacle is that the world is now perceived to be a much more dangerous place than it ever was. As a result we are more reluctant to expose our children to risk with the knock on effect that our children grow up less capable of making independent decisions, managing risk, making choices. Yet these are the very skills that children will need in this fast-changing world.

 

For all children an overriding aim throughout a child’s time at Sunshine is to encourage independence. With independence comes the ability for a child to make choices become independent learners capable of looking after themselves, thriving on the challenges that life throws up, experimenting with risks and developing their own ways of doing things successfully.

 

How do we do this at Sunshine? Through the ‘prepared environment’. Maria Montessori herself wrote in ‘The Secret of Childhood’ (1966)

            “The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as is possible,

            to render the growing child independent of the adult”

 

Let me give you a few examples of how at Sunshine Montessori we use the children’s environments to develop independence:

 

For our babies

  • The majority of our resources are stored at children’s levels to enable them to independently choose following their own natural inquisitiveness and interests. We provide a multitude of sensory activities to stimulate their curiosity and activities to support their rapidly growing gross-motor needs. Developing the ability to communicate verbally is essential for supporting independence.

  • We encourage our youngest to begin to feed themselves whilst ensuring that an adult is near at hand to provide support if necessary.

  • We ensure that our babies are able to sleep following their unique body rhythms.

 

For our toddlers

  • We provide a wider range of activities to support their growing intellectual ability.

  • Supporting their developing social understanding is given great importance with adults gently encouraging their ability to share and take turns and play with their peers.

  • We begin to introduce our toddlers to the wonders of ‘forest school’ where they can test and stretch their expanding physical capabilities in a natural environment.

  • By this stage children are generally self-feeding and drinking from open cups. We introduce potty training and washing hands, together with early dressing skills such as putting on shoes and coats.

 

Our 2-5 year olds

  • By this stage many of our children are able to understand cause and effect. We provide activities for them to test their own theories and develop their creativity of thought. Many children enjoy the intellectual challenges of literacy, numeracy and science.

  • Our routines of the day help them to manage their time successfully. Often they are fully involved in the routines such as setting the table for lunch, deciding on activities, using them and packing away when finished with. They are able to dress and undress independently and their personal hygiene skills are strong and independent.

  • Our children are becoming socially adept and we expect and support them in negotiating and playing intricate games with their peers.

  • Physically our children are also becoming very competent, with some being able to ride bikes without stabilisers and learning how to risk assess their own physical challenges such as tree climbing at forest school.

 

We truly believe that independence is at the heart of developing children who are capable, motivated learners who, with these skills, will be successful in the increasingly challenging world they live in. We encourage our parents to adopt this principle as we know partnership is key in supporting our wonderfully creative, unique and capable children to grow and reach their potential.

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