Trends in Non-Montessori Primary Pedagogy
Early childhood education has gained prominence in the last few decades. Children’s brain grows 95% before they are 6 years old. Research shows that children develop cognitive, social, and emotional development when they attend early childhood programs. They also learn interpersonal skills by sharing, listening, and expressing emotions. Educators and parents can make a difference by laying a strong foundation by engaging in their child’s education in the early years from birth to kindergarten.
The following are the trends in early childhood education:
Early mental health awareness:
Recently there is a lot of emphasis on mental health issues, and it includes children’s mental health. Mental health during early childhood helps children to reach their emotional and developmental milestones. They learn social skills and problem-solving skills. Mental health contributes to the quality of life of children and influences how they function in their communities. According to the article published by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, up to 20% of children in the United States had a mental health disorder at some point in the past 12 months. Annually these cost $250 billion per year. Early childhood programs are taking the mental health of children into consideration while designing the classrooms and creating the curriculum.
Early literacy is an important trend in early childhood education. There has been a push in teaching children reading at an early age as it lays the foundation for lifelong learning. Reading at an early age helps the brain form more connections and hence enables children’s academic abilities. Early exposure to reading increases their vocabulary and helps them be academically successful in later years. When children read early, they develop self-confidence and independence. It promotes maturity, discipline and increases moral literacy. Children learn about how things work and increase problem solving skills.
Early childhood educators have long resisted the inclusion of digital technology in the classrooms. There has been a recent trend to be open to using age-appropriate technology. According to the Cambridge dictionary technology is nothing but using scientific discoveries for practical purposes. I really like the way MacDonald (n.d.) explains the use of scissors in the classroom. Scissors can be very dangerous if children are not using it the right way, but we have integrated into the classroom by providing learning and guidelines for using it safely. When scissors were invented, I am sure there was a lot of concern about its safety. There have been innovations around it to make it a better tool and increase its safety so that younger children can use it. We have created guidelines in the classroom to teach children the right way of holding scissors and how to carry to safely to the table. In the same way we must integrate digital technology into the classroom with thought and purpose. Using it was a tool to help children enhance their ability to learn skills. Whenever a new technology is invented, we question its relevance and safety. But later we find ways to integrate them into our children’s lives so that we can benefit from it. There is enough research and studies to prove that using digital technology helps children improve their language skills and children who have speech delay can make progress using digital technology. Many early childhood classroom use technology as needed now and the trend is growling.
AI has many benefits in planning, creating learning material that can give feedback in real time. By using AI teachers can save lot of time by offloading tasks like grading and providing answers to basic questions and hence save time to provide better quality of engagement with students. The quality of content provided by AI depends on the quality of data used. There is no filtering to check for any biased content. We could as well get incorrect information if the data is not correct. Data and security concerns are another big one. We should have proper guidelines in place to protect people’s privacy and help them understand how the data is being used. The algorithms could be biased if the training data is not diversified and hence trained in a way that its biased towards certain demographics or ideology. It’s very important to constantly update data and provide policies to refresh that data within a certain period. Concerns of equity and inclusion will arise as some special children will not be able to use this technology. The short comings of use of AI are the danger of overusing the technology which might be detrimental to young children. They need to be always used thoughtfully and purposefully.
There is abundant research to indicate that outdoor learning and play environment with varied elements of nature enhance the development, wellbeing, and growth of children in early childhood years. Some of the many benefits of outdoor education environments are helping children improve cognitive skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, improve self-confidence, improve eyesight and nutritional awareness. They will also learn to appreciate nature and live in harmony with the life around them. The concept of Forest schools in Scandinavian countries is gaining attention here in US and teaching through nature is an emerging trend in early childhood education.
The benefits of nature-based learning have always been well known to humanity. It’s a forgotten resource which is coming back into light again. In my observation children are the happiest and seem to be in their natural environment when they are outdoors. The focus on outdoor learning will impact early childhood education. Children will be able to benefit from this trend. Early childhood pioneers like Friedrich Froebel (1782–1852) believed that children were simply raised outdoors by their parents, and it is the best environment for them to grow. He was very clear that infants grow up in nature. ‘The surroundings … should be pure and clear – pure air, clear light, clear space’ (Froebel1826, 15). In India, they always make it a point to let infants play in the sunlight for a while every day. Though they do not understand why, it was done as practice. We now know that being in the sun will make children happy and provide vitamin D. We are going back to rediscovering the importance of being close to nature and the immense benefits it has. There was research done by Szczytko, R., Carrier, S., & Stevenson, K. T. (2018) children including children with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities (ECBD) show an improved attention and behavior outcomes when they participate in environmental education compared to traditional classrooms. There are many forests schools started in the past decade and they are now being licensed by local early childhood authorities. The trend is growing and we see that many families are overwhelmingly interested in them.
Brighter Futures Indiana. (2023, October 13). Top five benefits of early childhood education. https://brighterfuturesindiana.org/blog/top-five-benefits-of-early-childhood-education#:~:text=Early%20childhood%20education%20programs%20help,listening%2C%20sharing%20and%20expressing%20emotions.
Sunshine Behavioral Health. (2022, October 19). Exploring the importance of mental health during early childhood development – Sunshine Behavioral health. https://sunshinebehavioralhealth.com/resources/mental-health-during-early-childhood-development/
Redsharkdigital. (2019, October 3). Benefits of early Literacy Skills | Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children. Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children. https://mppfc.org/benefits-of-early-literacy-skills/#:~:text=Educational,opens%20opportunities%20for%20academic%20success.
MacDonald, G. (n.d.). Technology in the Montessori Classroom: benefits, hazards and preparation for life. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1112230
Pardo, L. (2023). 5 Ethical Implications of AI in Education: A Guideline for Responsible Classroom implementation. Blog | Quizalize. https://blog.quizalize.com/2023/06/26/5-ethical-implications-of-ai-in-education/
Technology – simply Mona! (n.d.). Simply Mona! https://simplymona.com/category/technology/
The philosophical implications of using AI in the Montessori Middle School environment. (n.d.). ETC Montessori Online. https://etcmontessorionline.com/blog/the-philosophical-implications-of-using-ai-in-the-montessori-middle-school-environment/#:~:text=In%20the%20Montessori%20classroom%2C%20personalization,learning%20experience%20for%20each%20student.
Szczytko, R., Carrier, S., & Stevenson, K. T. (2018). Impacts of outdoor environmental education on Teacher reports of attention, behavior, and learning outcomes for students with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities. Frontiers in Education, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00046
Froebel, F. 1826. The Education of Man. Translated by Jarvis 1885. New York: A. Lovell and Company. [Google Scholar]