Lockdown Day 80 – Social Development
80 days! According to the legendary book by Jules Verne, we could have travelled around the world in this time!
We continue our Montessori philosophy journey this morning with a glimpse into the world of children’s social development.
Montessori spoke about the child in the preschool phase being a ‘social embryo’, Just as nature provides the best natural environment for the development of the physical embryo in utero, our work now is to provide special kind of nurturing in a special kind of environment for the optimal development of the child’s social life.
Children in our classrooms have, in the past, enjoyed various freedoms in these specially prepared environments. They have been free to move about, free to choose activities and been free to join groups or work alone. Exercising these freedoms, while remembering the ground rules of respect for self, others and the environment, lead the child to independence (spoken about in last week’s parent post). They also allow the children in the classroom to develop their very own little community as they coexist within the favourable environment creating what Montessori called ‘social cohesion’. We see examples of this with older children helping younger children with certain tasks (thereby reinforcing the skill for themselves). Younger children aspire to do what the older children can do.
Managing the child’s social life at home during lockdown will have been one of the most challenging aspects of your work as a parent. We can stimulate children intellectually by playing games and offering learning experiences. We can eat well, exercise well, and get enough sleep so that the physical body is well looked after. Social development however has had to be put on the back burner. Going back to school, the social constructs mentioned above, will have been drastically altered and children will be in unnatural spaces with previously unknown limits.
Teachers will have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves to manage the required social distancing and are ready to help the children navigate the unknown world of ‘separateness’. Social interactions, once spontaneous and free are now going to have to be monitored. We are all going to have to be very aware that becausethis is an unnatural state, children will need time to adapt and we will all have to be very sensitive to the way in which they express themselves during this time.
As parents, you can help your child make the transition back to school by talking about the notion of social distancing. Perhaps ask the teacher to send pictures of the class set-up. Some schools will be using hula-hoops for the children to sit inside of to help them distance themselves. Some have transparent shields to separate work spaces at the tables. Knowing what they are going back to will ease children’s anxiety and knowing what the new boundaries are will give them confidence and boost self-esteem, which in turn will lend itself to more stable emotional development. But…that is next week’s topic.
Signing off for this week! Stay warm and safe.
Find all of our lockdown tips here – https://www.montessorisa.co.za/blog/