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ERIC Number: EJ1039864
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 28
ISSN: ISSN-1054-0040
Spiritually Responsive Education and Care: Nurturing Infants and Toddlers in a Changing Society
Miller, Darla Ferris
Montessori Life: A Publication of the American Montessori Society, v26 n2 p48-52 Sum 2014
Long before empirical neurological research validated her insight, Montessori understood that healthy, full-term babies come equipped with a physiological passion for learning. Brain studies have confirmed that most of the brain's development and inner wiring occurs during the first 2 years of life. A newborn's neurons have sparse, weak connections, but given a supportive environment, baby brain connections grow at an astounding rate. These early connections establish the footing for a lifetime of cognitive and social functioning--vision, movement, emotions, and language (Corel, 1975; Johnson, 2005; Nelson, 2003; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000; Shore, 1997). The first 3 years of life are a unique phase of development. Montessori used the term "spiritual embryo" to describe the construction of intellect, personality, temperament, spirit, and soul that takes place in infants and toddlers. She considered this crucial phase of unconscious self-construction to be as vital to human life as the physiological growth of the embryo in the womb before birth (Montessori, 2000, p. 69; Montanaro, 1991, p. 24-25). Universally, parents hope to enable their children's potential. But parents have diverse and often opposing views on how babies should be tended. Montessori looked to principles of nature, and her theories seemed to align with what is today called attachment-style parenting. According to attachment theory, babies form strong emotional bonds with caregivers that have lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available caregivers help babies form secure attachments that support their health and foster critical socio-emotional development (Sears & Sears, 2001, p. 2). Human learning continues from birth to death, but Montessori recognized that the earliest years are the most fertile. As Montessori said, "Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire 'to make him learn things,' but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called the intelligence" (Montessori, 1965, p. 240). Given opportunities for positive emotional attachment and a carefully planned learning environment tuned to individual sensitive periods of development, babies in Montessori infant and toddler programs can flourish--learning naturally with concentration, enthusiasm, and joy.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A