This blog post has been contributed by Parenting Matters (http://parentingmatters.in/), a Chennai-based organisation which partners with parents to build skillsfor deeper connection in families. It provides platforms for parents to learn together with input from trained facilitators. It conducts programs, workshops and also aims at spreading awareness on parenting through articles for magazines, talks with experts and its blog. This blog has been written by Kesang Menezes, a facilitator at Parenting Matters.
In recent years there is a lot of importance given to the concept of self esteem. Good self-esteem is considered a fundamental requirement for a person’s well being and success in life. Definitions of what exactly is meant by self esteem might vary but most would agree that it is a sense of belief in one’s worth and a feeling of competence.
How is this acquired? There is much talk about what we need to do to develop self-esteem in our children. A hundred years ago, without actually using that term, Dr. Montessori studied the nature of the child and developed an environment that provided opportunities for the child to develop his self esteem in every possible way.
HOW DOES A MONTESSORI ENVIRONMENT BUILD A CHILD’S SELF ESTEEM?
1. The Montessori Method does not believe in direct intervention or correction. That is the reason Dr. Montessori developed material that is self-correcting, so that a child is given the opportunity to discover things for himself. By making his own discoveries the child has a sense of achievement. In other types of learning environments, the main form of teaching is through correction. What happens to a child every time he is corrected? Every time he is told that he had written his ‘b” back to front or that his sums are not right? What happens when he sees red marks all over his work? He feels disheartened. The message he gets is that he knows nothing and that he is not good enough. He loses interest in the subject. In a Montessori environment the child arrives at things on his own, he discovers where he has gone wrong and has a great desire to improve, and as he progresses he knows this is due to his own efforts. He has a sense of competence.
2. In a Montessori classroom there is no comparison. No child is made to feel that since the other child is doing something, he must do it too. The mixed age group and independent work makes it all the more difficult for children to even compare themselves to each other. There is no peer pressure-that all children who are of a particular age must be at the same level. Thus when a child is allowed to move at her own pace and is accepted for what she is, she learns to be comfortable with herself. She works only with the desire to challenge herself and not with the goal of being better than someone else. This helps her discover her own strengths and develop into a truly self motivated individual.