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Intrinsic and Extrinsic factors, How Aspen Park Montessori Addresses the Uniqueness of Each Child

Children are different and unique. They have their own distinct personalities as well as innate

talents and aptitudes. Out of the 8 billion people who populate this Earth, no two are alike. We all carry individual features that make us “special”. In dealing with children, we find some

students “easier” to deal with than others. Some are more challenging. What makes them this way? And how do schools address these variances? There are so many factors that affect the makeup of a child. And these factors lead to the way our children develop. Let’s take a look at what these factors are.

We can start with intrinsic factors. These factors include the genetics of the child, what the child was born with. This embraces their cognitive processes and temperament. Attention and inhibitory control are examples of cognitive processes. Some children are easy-going and laid back. Others are stubborn, tenacious and obstinate. Some children like to play quietly, others are running a mile a minute with endless amounts of energy. It’s all those internal factors that we are born with that make up who we are.

Now, let’s look at extrinsic factors. Extrinsic factors include our caregiving environment, cultural expectations regarding emotional displays, and familial and peer relationships. What is our home like? How do we feed our children, do they get well balanced meals or a lot of junk food? What are parents like and how do they treat their children? Who are the major figures in their lives that have the most influence over them? Have they suffered any abuse? Have they received the love and support so important in those early years? How are they held accountable and how are they disciplined? These are some examples of external things that influence us greatly.

As can be seen, a child’s development is greatly influenced by all these factors. We don’t always have control over the intrinsic factors because the factors involve the essence of who we are. As we get older, we can recognize things about who we are and change our perceptions or behaviors to better cope with ourselves in specific situations. But what about the extrinsic factors. They really determine how we continue to develop, and it starts at birth. By the time a child enters a daycare or school setting, a lot of growth has already taken place. Remember that the most important years for growth are birth to 5 years. That is when all the neuropathways are forming at incredible rates. By the time children turn 5, they have been significantly influenced by their environments, relationships, and experiences. These years are crucial in setting the stage for future development. It is really daunting when thinking about the influence we have over our children. And this influence molds them into their future selves.

Do children become the humans they were born to be, or do they become something very different? Do they develop thought and behavioral patterns that are not consistent with their

innate nature?

The treatment of our children plays such an important role in their development. It’s a huge responsibility. We want to do the right thing, but do we know how? It’s really sad that our society puts so much emphasis on higher education. You practically need a doctorate to go anywhere anymore. But what about educating our society on how to parent correctly. Is there any emphasis on that? If there is, it is very underrated. The support is out there, but how many take advantage of that support. For the vast majority, the blind are leading the blind when raising our children. And let’s face it, it’s hard enough to raise a “normal” child. But what is normal anymore. There are so many kids on the spectrum, with ADHD, ADD, and on sensory overload. And how do children deal with their emotions? How do they recognize, understand, label, express and regulate (RULER) their emotions? There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of early social/emotional learning. But is it really taught in the schools? It is at Aspen Park Montessori. We spend a lot of time on just this. We teach it in a group setting and it is constantly reinforced individually throughout the day.

At Aspen Park Montessori, we see the need to evaluate each child, to understand how they act and react. Sometimes, we recommend professional help to better deal with the individual. Sometimes, it is just a matter of paying close attention, taking the time to care, to come up with a plan that helps the child develop at his/her full potential. It comes down to simply listening to what these children are telling us. We work at the child’s pace, and our curriculum is based on what the child needs individually. Every child is different, so every lesson is molded to the needs of each child. And what about those children that can’t conform to the expectations of the school? It would be easy to drop a child from a program because he/she is “difficult”. And many programs do this. But what does this do to the child? What kind of message are you sending to the family and student? Messages such as “you are not good enough”, “You are bad”, “You are not worth our time or effort” set that child up for failure. Who is failing who? Does a child come to a school simply to fail, or are we failing our children? Children don’t ask to fail; they are taught to fail. And who teaches them to fail? Many times, it is not only our society, but our schools.

At Aspen Park Montessori, we take the time and make every effort to support each child. We

work with the families to come up with a plan we can incorporate in the school as well as at home. We take the time because we care, because we want our children to succeed. We want our children to honor their innate qualities and find happiness in who they are. We want them to feel good about who they are. We want them to feel confident in their ability to learn and master foundational concepts. We want our children to be who they were born to be, not a replica of someone else’s opinion. We have had great successes with each of our students. We are proud of every child that has been a part of our family and look forward to shaping a bright future for so many more.

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