Michael Olaf newsletter. Perfect for snowy day reading:
Age 3-6 Years
The child’s world at this age moves from the family to the primary class. The world is brought into the class rather than the child taken out into the world at this age. We do not believe in pushing a child toward early intellectual studies, however if presented correctly, young children show an amazing interest in a wide range of subjects, something that can be hard to believe...
Before age six, the child absorbs—totally, easily, without effort, and with deep love—all the attitudes and impressions in the environment. It becomes a part of him and forms his mind, so parents and teachers as models are the strongest element in these years. If kindness and patience, enjoying reading, having good manners, enjoying math and biology, for example, are in the environment at this age, these attitudes and actions will be of great value to the child. If they are not part of the early environment many of these things can be learned later, but they will not make up the basic personality of the child.
Before age six, the lessons and experiences of Cosmic Education are carried out by means of a lot of movement and sensorial experience. But along with the basic and extremely valuable practical life and sensorial lessons, the child begins to learn about the earth and water, physics, plant and animals, the variety of humans on earth, art, dance, music, geometry, math, and language. By the end of this first plane of development, the child has a lively curiosity about and love of all of these areas of study.
Maria Montessori understood the child's built-in receptiveness to all these areas of interest and found that the young child could comprehend what was considered far beyond a child's reach, given the right environment, the right equipment, and a teacher who was skilled at putting the child in touch with this environment.
Even as you, out of love for children, are endeavoring to teach children, through your numerous institutions, the best that can be brought out of them, even so, I hope that it will be possible not only for the children of the wealthy and the well-to-do, but for the children of paupers to receive training of this nature. You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children, and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have to struggle, we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.
— M. K. Gandhi, 1943
Today our world is shrinking and we have finally learned to cherish diversity—economic, racial, all kinds—to prepare children for living in the real world. Gandhi's desire is coming to pass.
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