There has been much research on the effects of early childhood education over the years. Although many studies are older, new studies are currently becoming a trend. Our world is drastically changing and the children coming into this world are wired for more advanced knowledge, information, and technology. We are evolving human-beings and with this evolution must come a change in the way we think and facilitate. What was true in the past is not necessarily true now. Aspen Park iMontessori (APiM) is currently participating in two studies that span a two-year period. These studies will fully evaluate our students, their social and emotional strengths and weaknesses, and their cognitive abilities. One study is assessing a social/emotional tool for improved learning called RULER. Both studies will also assess the teaching modalities and methodologies that are working in the classroom. They will examine the teachers and how they communicate and facilitate. They will assess the effectiveness and efficiency of what is being taught. They will identify the areas that need improvement and pay close attention to the areas that yield successes.
According to First Things First, “The human brain, the command center of the entire body, is the only organ not fully developed at birth. At birth, the average baby’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. Incredibly, it doubles in size in the first year and keeps growing to about 80% of adult size by age 3 and 90% – nearly full grown – by age 5.
A newborn baby has all of the brain cells (neurons) they’ll have for the rest of their life, but what really makes the brain work – and enables us to move, think, communicate and just about everything else – are the connections between those cells. And the early years of a child’s life are a crucial time for making those connections – at least one million new neural connections (synapses) every second, far more than at any other time in life.
Different areas of the brain – which are responsible for different abilities like movement, language and emotion – develop at different rates. Eventually brain connections connect with each other in more complex ways, enabling the child to move and speak and think in more complex ways.
Recent scientific research has shown that the connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities – like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving, communication and self-esteem – are formed in these early years. Or not formed. And it’s much harder for these essential brain connections to be made later in life.
Starting from birth, brain connections are built through a child’s everyday experiences – by positive interactions with their parents and caregivers, and by using their senses to interact with the world around them. It’s a young child’s daily experiences – the amount and quality of care, stimulation and interaction they receive in their first days, weeks, months and years – that determines which brain connections develop and will last for a lifetime.”
Unfortunately, these are the years that are many times ignored and overlooked. Early childhood education has never received the recognition it deserves and is clearly underrated. These are really the most important years that fully impact the rest of a child’s life. These are the “Golden Years” so to speak. The importance of developing strong foundations in social and emotional development and cognitive function can no longer be taken for granted. As we witness older children that are repeatedly struggling and failing on so many levels, it is imperative more than ever to get children into early childhood programs.
At Aspen Park Montessori, we put a lot of time and effort into creating meaningful and significant experiences. We do this because we see the potential of each child, and it is mind-blowing. We are gaining a wealth of knowledge as we incorporate a variety of teaching tools and educational practices into the classroom. We are always trying new things, paying attention to what works and what does not. As we think “outside the box” we provide a quality education that exceeds the expectations of what we think is possible. We are willing to look beyond what has been done and what is currently being done. We are willing to go out on a limb, to bring curriculums and disciplines that we know work, and incorporate cutting edge programs that we believe will. We value accountability as we help develop children into responsible adults and respectable human-beings. We demonstrate how choices generate consequences, and we express ways to make better choices through problem-solving, identification of emotions, and strategies that create a positive coping response.
Our kids are not the only people learning. What is a classroom? It is a place where knowledge is communicated and exchanged, a place where information passes between a facilitator and a student. What many fail to realize is that this exchange takes place on both ends. Children are continuously learning, but so are the teachers, aids, and volunteers involved in the classroom. There is a continuous exchange of information. We are teaching our children, and our children are teaching us. And that is what separates us from so many others. We are able to take a hard look at our students and learn from their experiences. And the beauty of our school is the freedom we maintain to teach the way we feel is appropriate. We have the ability to incorporate an idea or process that is working at any time. We are not bound by a corporate policy or curriculum that is limiting. We are not on a pacing guide. We do not have a political agenda, and we certainly can see past the errors of the past. We are building a progressive program that offers possibilities and opportunities unavailable at many other schools. We are establishing ourselves as an innovative leader in early childhood education and are extremely proud of our successes and achievements. We also realize that we cannot do this alone. It takes a village. We have the continuous support of our families. They work with us and together we make a formidable team. Most of all we recognize our children. They are the reason we exist. They are the reason we persevere. In our classroom, we are seeing amazing progress socially, emotionally, cognitively, and academically. We will save that for another blog.