Essay

Two different approaces to learning in the early years

Firstly, about Maria Montessori she was born on 31 August 1870 in Italy. At the end of summer of 1952 she died in the Netherlands. As a child she was educated at home where she was interested in mathematics and science. (O’Donnell) She preferred to the technical, rather than classical stream of education. (Isaaca, 2007) For her further studies she was enrolled in boy’s technical school. When her interest turned to medicine with many problems she was allowed to enrol at the University of Rome as the very first Italian female to study medicine. When she was a student she was working in the psychiatrics department of the paediatric clinic attached to the University. This is where she came in contact with children and she observed them closely and particularly how they played with food at mealtime. She interpreted the behaviour as developing from an inner urge to be active. (Schulz-Benesch, 1997) She graduated in 1896 with two honours as Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Surgery degree. (O’Donnell, 2007)

According to O’ Donnell (2007), Montessori was interested in childhood mental diseases, therefore she enrolled in course in pedagogy and educational theory during 1897 and 1898, she became familiarized with the theories and writing of Locke, Rousseau, Froebel, Pestalozzi and Owen. They all visualized education as a means of creating a new ideal society. However, Montessori came to the conclusion that all their approaches were incomplete in some way. Therefore, she developed her own approach called the Montessori Method in 1909. (Casa-Montessori 1997) Her approach to education was developed based on her observations and her belief in the education of children as to create a better society. She felt the goal of education should not be to fill the children with facts but rather to encourage their own innate wish to learn. She believed if environment was not properly prepared then the learning becomes difficult and tedious for the children. (Casa-Montessori 1997)

Isaacs (2007) Montessori believed that children developed in stages and that each stage had its own unique qualities and characteristics. As said by O’ Donnell (2007) Montessori recognised childhood as a special time of life, and she realised that the development could not be rushed, as well as the each stage will depend on what had been learned during the previous stages. Montessori followed Rousseau and believed that a child comes in to the world with the mind like a black slate (tabula rasa). The education begins at birth and continues throughout life. She also agreed with Froebel’s Kindergarten approach that children should be allowed to explore the environment and learn through direct experience and play is an essential part of the educational process. (Slideshare, 2010)

By the 1914 there were hundreds of Montessori schools established in Europe, North and South America and Asia. (Isaacs, 2007) The Montessori school environment is arranged according to subject area such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, art, caring for animals, library and more. At Montessori school children are always free to move around the room instead of staying at the table. The children have no limit to how long they can work on something they like. Children learn through firsthand experience by including practical life experience such as gardening, cutting and more. Montessori teachers would avoid using plastic toys such as dolls and they will use natural material (Montessori, 2009).

“Today, Montessori directresses worldwide prepare the environment for children with self-teaching Montessori materials providing a variety of activities which help them develop the foundations of healthy education by following their own interests.” (O’ Donnell 2007:138)

While children were using the materials their reactions were closely observed and those materials which interested the children and what they frequently selected are regularly included as part of their prepared environment. (O’ Donnell 2007) McClay, (1996) argued that the children’s classroom atmosphere should be relaxed where children feel protected, and where they can work together easily with other staff. Gee argued that the right environment show the way directly to well-behaved and creative children (Gee, 1996). Since 1907 Montessori environment have always met these criteria. She realized that children’s physical health was at risk because of the lack of movement. Therefore, she allowed the children to move about, choosing activities that they want to do. She also made sure that work at individual tables with movable chairs made especially to suit different heights of the children. (O’ Donnell 2007)

There are three stages of process of learning:

Stage 1: introduction to a concept by means of a lecture, lesson, something read in a book.

Stage 2: processing the information, developing an understanding of the concept through work, experimentation and creation.

Stage 3: “knowing” to possessing an understanding of, demonstrated by the ability to pass a test with confidence or to teach another. (S.M. Stephenson, 2010) In these three stages, stage two is the most important and the longest stage because with it is importance on developing, working, experimenting and creating this enables the children to actually learn and remember what they have learned.

Parents today expect their children to read and write at very early age and Montessori in 1907 demonstrated how children began to first write and then to read automatically at the age of four. She designed a sensory materials like sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet to help children develop. (O’ Donnell 2007) Montessori approach are also described as a phonic approach; it is clear direct teaching the three-period lesson to introduce the links between sound and letter to each children individually before they write or read. (O’ Donnell 2007) Many families use Montessori principles at homes because according to Montessori education takes place where the children are (Montessori, 2009). Montessori Method is a unique sequence of learning designed to meet the ordinary development of the children. The children who learn the essential skills of reading, writing and arithmetic in ordinary way have the advantage of starting their education without hard work, tediousness or discouragement. (Casa-Montessori 1997)

Secondly, High/Scope was developed in 1960s by Dr. David P Weikart in America. He studied at the University of Michigan in the last 1950s and he was also an ex-marine. (Holt, 2007) He started the organization to continue research and program activities in the beginning as an administrator with the Ypsilanti Public Schools (HIGHSCOPE, 2010). High Scope stands for ‘High’ the individual level of achievement for all children in their care. ‘Scope’ the range of experience they offer to children to support them to achieve (Holt, 2007).

“HighScope is not a part of the public schools or any governmental organization. HighScope preschool programs are compatible with the Guidelines for Appropriate Practice published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).” (HIGHSCOPE,2010)

According to Holt (2007), Weikart discovered that children from lower class society especially African American children from elementary school shown the lower achievers and also the stranded test showed him that they had the lowest IQ scores. However, he also noticed that children from predominantly white area scored higher even though they were the same age group. He then discovered that children who lived in the deprived areas were achieving low scores as a rest of lack of opportunity rather than their intelligence. (Holt,2007)

Therefore, in 1962 the Perry Pre- School Project began. This was a vital project because children were randomly selected to either attend the HighScope project or to stay in their local community. From this project they were able to control group for comparison to see if being in a preschool setting made any difference to the children (Holt, 2007). Highscope.UK (2010) suggests that the High Scope’s curriculum was based on Piaget’s theories of development. HighScope is about cognitive development approach where children are encouraged to solve problems and think independently. (Walsh & Petty, 2007) Weikart strongly felt that, children progress at their own speed and their classroom life should accommodate children’s interests and the activities. (Highscope.UK, 2010)

According to Holt (2007) HighScope curriculum is active learning and they believe that children learn from key experience gained from their own discovery and the world around them. The key experiences are organized around these topics: creative representation, language and literacy, initiative and social relations, movement, music, classification, number, space and time (Hohman and Weikart, 1995). Similar to Montessori Approach, HighScope use a unique classroom environment in which the environments help out activities and the adult became supporter and observer of the children it is also providing children with opportunities to develop their strengths. The key experiences classify the kinds of knowledge young children are gaining as they interact with mixture of materials, people, ideas, and events and from this children gain learning skills (Highscope.UK, 2010)

Holt (2007) experienced that parents have a key role in children’s learning, therefore home visits were set up, so teachers can suggest ideas about children development and learning. As a result, this became a mutual process and this gave parents an opportunity to share information about their child’s interest to the teachers. (Holt, 2007)The results from the project showed that children made huge step in improving their IQ scores when they were entering into mainstream school. Weikart said ” poor children could move on from the pre-school to elementary school better able to engage in traditional education”(Weikart,2004:55)

As a consequence from between 1962 and 1967 they decided to follow the children who attended the project and their education beyond to determine the benefits of HighScope throughout their life. The information about one hundred and twenty three students were collected annually from the age of three to eleven and then at the age of fourteen, fifteen, nineteen, twenty-seven and finally forty. (Holt, 2007) After each data was collected, staff analyzed the information staff wrote a complete official report. The findings of the program effects through age 40 and the areas of education, economic performance, crime prevention, family relationship and health. (L. J. Schweinhart, 2005)

The HighScope approach follows five basic principles that support the practice. This helps the practitioner when they are using the approach with the children. The five principles are Active learning, Adult and child interaction, Daily Routine, Learning environment and, Assessment (Holt, 2007).

Active learning is when children learn by being active and by engaging with other people, materials, events and ideas that immediate and meaningful to them. Each aspect of the HighScope Approach supports active learning. (Highscope.UK, 2010)

Adult and child interaction is adults working with children and providing them a safe environment for the active learning to take place. They also work together to support with children’s learning. (Holt, 2007) Children achieve more when they feel happy and secure therefore HighScope practitioners bring trust to their relationships with children and they respect and value each child’s personal and cultural identity. (Highscope.UK, 2010)

Daily Routine provides a structure within which children to choice and to follow their interests. This gives the children the sense of security they need to make choices and to take risks. Firstly, the Plan-Do-Review sequence is unique to the HighScope curriculum. It includes a time which children plan what they want to do then it is a work time for children to carry out their plans or they can start new activities that interest them. Then it is a period for reviewing with adult and other children what they’ve done and learned.  Small-group time is based on children’s interest and skills. Secondly, small group activities where children meet with adults and during this time children and adult experiment with materials, try out new skills, and solve problems. Thirdly, large-group time this is when up to 20 children and 2 adults come together for group and music activities, interactive storytelling, and other shared experiences are shared with the children. (HIGHSCOPE, 2010)

Learning Environment support activities and resources that give confidence to children to investigate and imagination and gives them plenty of space to move around and give the children opportunity to develop their co-ordination control and build their confident. (Holt, 2007)

Assessment gives out multiple purposes which are It looks at meaningful educational outcomes, it gather information and provide truthful information that can be used for individual child planning. Assessment can be used to assess children to see how they are developing and to determine how the programs children attend contribute to the children’s development. (HIGHSCOPE, 2010)

The conclusion from the HighScope research is that children across cultural and from different socio-economic backgrounds benefit from the HighScope Approach. This approach is seen as an investment in a child’s future life and as an investment in the future welfare of society. (Highscope.UK, 2010)

The Montessori and the HighScope approach both are focusing on teaching the children of the future. There are hundreds of Montessori schools established worldwide (Isaacs, 2007). “The mission of HighScope UK is to bring the HighScope Approach to adults working with children from birth to adolescence through the provision of high quality support and nationally and internationally accredited training.” (Highscope.Uk, 2010) The HighScope approach and Montessori approach are play based for this reason learning environment is important to both approaches. The environments are arranged according to subject area therefore children can play freely. (Montessori, 2009) HighScope believes the outdoor space as equal to the indoor learning environment. (Holt, 2007)

From both approaches children decide how they want to learn. HighScope Believe that “children gain confidence, initiative and love of lifelong learning when involved in well supported activities of their own choosing” (Bell, 2004:5) At Montessori school children are given the material and they can work independently or with their friends. (Isaacs 2007) However, in a Montessori school the teacher’s role is to observe in order to connect the child with the suitable materials (Goffin & Wilson ,2001). Whereas the HighScope is shared control is essential to how adults and children interact. (HIGHSCOPE, 2010) In HighScope, children’s creative exploration is encouraged which leads to pretend play, while in Montessori, practical life work was relates to the real world. Montessori assessments are by portfolio and the teacher’s observer and keep record of children. They verify if the system is working or not by achievement and behaviour of the children, their happiness, maturity, kindness, and of learning and level of work. (Montessori, 2009) On the other hand, HighScope use Plan-do-review were children are encouraged to plan the methods they are going to work with; then carry out their plan and review with their teacher.

In 2003 government published Every Child Matters influenced by the HighScope and followed by EYFS from September 2008, is to help young children achieve the five outcome which are to staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being by setting the standards by ensuring that every child makes progress and that no child gets left behind. Providing for equality of opportunity is by ensuring that every child is included and not disadvantaged because of ethnicity, culture, religion, family background, learning difficulties or disabilities, gender and ability. Creating the framework for partnership working with parents and professionals and all the settings that the children attend. Improving quality and consistency in the early year sector through a worldwide set of standards which apply to all settings. Laying a secure foundation for future learning through learning and development that is planned around the individual needs and interests of the child. EYFS is compulsory to all early year settings. (The EYFS Statutory Framework,2008).

The EYFS principles Approach are A Unique Child : recognising that every child is a competent learner from birth. To focus around development; inclusion; safety; and health and well-being.

Positive Relationships: loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.

Enabling environments: to supporting and extending children’s development and learning and focus on observation, assessment and planning. Learning and Development: recognises that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. (The EYFS Statutory Framework,2008).

There are six areas covered by the early learning goals and educational programmes which are

Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication, Language and Literacy; Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy; Knowledge and Understanding of the World; Physical Development ; Creative Development. All these goals are equally important and they all depend on each other to support to child development. (The EYFS Statutory Framework, 2008)

The EYFS use sensory materials to teach children in setting this method was influenced by the Montessori approach because this approach values children’s imaginative interpretation and teachers recognize that materials in the Montessori environment, such as sand trays, chalkboards, and language cards encourage children’s independence. (Montesori,1995) Montessori also believed that children environment should be comfortable therefore they should have child-sized chairs and table. This was inspired by the early years setting. Montessori Method was based on personal development rather than skills. From self discovery and social development children learn to respect the work of others in the environment as they consistently encounter situations (Montessori).

Whereas the EYFS and the HighScope approaches were high structured and planned for children to get ready for school and world of work. According to Nursery World (2010) children will be assessed with new ‘readiness for school’ at the age of five, linked to the EYFS profile. Whereas, the EYFS and the Montessori approach ensured that every child was include in their approach. However, the HighScope approach only looked at the lower class society especially African American children. (Holt, 2007) EYFS, HighScope and Montessori approach are all play based curium. Children are given the opportunity to take care of themselves, each other, and the environment. (S.M. Stephenson, 2010) However, on the EYFS teaches what can be assessed rather what is worth learning. For example children cannot be assessed if they are happy or not by doing a particular activity. Like the EYFS the HighScope classroom has a regular routine. This is ensuing certainty to help children understand what will happen next and encourage them to have control in their classroom. From these approaches we notice that HighScope and Montessori approach influenced in the EYFS.

Comments Off on Two different approaces to learning in the early years