One of the questions that lots of moms face regularly is, is my baby better at home or better at daycare? Opinions come and go and we often ask mothers with more experience which will defend their points of view based on their experiencies. Scientific reserach though shows that the warmth, closeness and love of a mother (or father) are irreplaceable in the first years of life.
What do we do if we have to work away from home? What do we do when we don’t have family networks that can help with the baby’s care?
During my baby’s first year of life, I was able to only work part time; My husband could also take care of her a couple of times a week and we had the help of a trustworthy person who was 100% attentive to her basic needs while I was at work.
However, last April things changed suddenly and we had no choice but to start in the education system, she was 18 months.
Which one to choose and why? There were so many options that for a moment I felt overwhelmed. I read some general recommendations that included analyzing the number of children per caregiver, the total size of the group and the preparation of the professional and ability to establish a positive and stimulating relationship of trust.
Asking here and there we arrived at Montessori, or “Tom Thumb’s” house as I like to call it. Although I had read a little about the methodology, I was not an expert on the subject.
What is Montessori?
The objective of the Montessori method is to help each child reach their full potential in all areas of life.
The Montessori method is characterized by providing a prepared environment: orderly, aesthetic, simple, real, where each element has its reason in the development of children.
This environment offers the child opportunities to engage in an interesting job, freely chosen, that leads to prolonged periods of concentration that should not be interrupted.
Children work with scientifically designed concrete materials, which provide the keys to explore the world and develop basic cognitive skills. The materials are designed so that the child can recognize the error by himself and take responsibility for his own learning.
In Montessori education, there are sensitive periods. From birth to 3 years, they focus then on speech development, coordinated movement and independence. This will give the children confidence and allow them to discover their own potential and their place within a community.
I fell in love with Montessori the moment I arrived, I had no need to look for more options. Although we decided that Dad would continue to take care of our baby twice a week at home.
Montessori changed everything
1. My immense initial concern was to know how her basic needs would be met. She was so used to having an adult just for her that I was moritified about what would happen when she got hungry or sleepy. Or what would happen when she wanted to be carried around all day by the caregiver who also had to take care of others? But Montessori respected and celebrated her uniqueness and adaptability process.
2. In early childhood, and especially between 0 and 4 years, the main neuronal connections are formed. which makes the brain a moldable cognitive mechanism that will accommodate new learning much more easily. That’s why, sometimes a child’s brain is compared with a sponge. After my daughter took her first steps, I started noticing how she could well eat the whole world; her nature was to learn and Montessori showed me that her potential and love for learning was enormous, indescribable. I started noticing that by only providing her with interesting and challenging materials, her brain immediately began making connections and almost if by magic, she was taking charge of her own learning. I let my inner creative teacher showed then, so I could keep her hands and brain busy.
The goal of early childhood should be to activate the child own natural desire to learn- Maria Montessori
3. Montessori, strengthens self-control and independence. I used to think she was too young to try to do some things by herself but from one day to the next one, she started bringing abilities from school and so I decided to convert my house into my own Tom Thumb’s house as well, where everything could be within little hands reach; where she could strengthen her motor skills, cognitive and long-term memory; where time is relative, because it does not matter if something lasts 3 more minutes if that can be turned into a learning experience.
4. Finally, from Montessori I have learned a new concept of community and mutual help that allows children to increase self-esteem in childhood. Children do live in a small society in the Montessori classroom, but also as parents we have the responsability of re-think our roles so we can analyze in what ways we can work as a team to develop our children’s full potential.