martes, 29 de enero de 2019

How neuroscience supports Montessori

When Steve Hughes refers to Montessori as "the best learning method based on brain development" he knows what he's talking about. He is expresident of the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology and for years has studied the benefits of Montessori education has in neurological development.

Let's see some discoveries of neuroscience that support what Maria Montessori appreciated through observing and working with children throughout her life.

The hand as an instrument of the brain
One of the most obvious benefits of Montessori in relation to neural development is the use of hands as a tool for learning. Thanks to neuroscience we know that the amount of resources that the brain uses to process information received through the hands is proportionally much larger than the size of the hands in relation to total body size, that is, the hands represent the main entrance of information to the brain, and therefore should play a crucial role in learning, as it happens in Montessori.

In addition, several studies have shown the best results from hands-on learning compared to learning by observation.

Sensitive periods
Maria Montessori observed that children, especially between birth and 6 years, go through periods showing a special interest in a particular activity. These sensitive periods has also called them windows of opportunity, and most recently, neuroscience has identified them as stages in which the brain needs a certain stimulation to develop properly.

Neural networks
There is a model of the functioning and organization of the brain that shows that different areas of the brain do not work independently but are connected together using neural networks. These neural networks are developed through experience. We do not know exactly how this process of maturation occurs but we do know that there are certain things that favor it, such repetition, which is favored in a Montessori environment, especially at the stage of 0-6 years when the child has a natural tendency to repeat an activity to perfect a skill.

Another way to encourage the development of neural networks is by sensory activities, another strong point of the Montessori method, especially at the stage of 3 to 6 years in which working with sensory materials is especially important.

Mirror neurons
Maria Montessori defined the absorbent mind as the ability of the child from 0 to 6 years of absorbing information from their environment through the senses, and decades after the discovery of mirror neurons came to scientifically corroborate what she had discovered through observation.

Mirror neurons are located in the frontal lobe of humans and other species, including primates and birds, and are activated when an animal or human being performs an action or when the animal or human observes another animal of the same species performing the same action.

In a Montessori environment, materials and presentations, and mixed-ages groups allow children can learn both through imitation and through its own activity.

Executive functions
The executive functions are mental abilities responsible of solving consciously, voluntarily and effectively most of the problems that are presented to an individual. Several studies have shown that these skills are essential for both cognitive and social and emotional learning.

Cognitive flexibility; it is the function that allows us to adapt to changes in the environment or priorities, activating our creative thinking when we need to solve a problem.

Inhibitory control; It includes the ability to focus our attention on a task despite distractions (concentration), to continue with that task until completed (discipline) and to resist impulses and instead respond in a considered way (self-control).

Working memory; is the ability to hold information in mind in order to work with it. It allows us to relate ideas and make decisions considering the information we have.

As you can imagine, executive functions play an essential role in our lives and it is important to encourage their development, which occurs from infancy and continues to develop into adulthood. In a Montessori environment all these skills are worked indirectly, both by using materials and by setting rules and boundaries within the freedom enjoyed by children when choosing their work.

Autora: Cristina - Montessori en casa

1 comentario:

  1. Este texto está extraído de un post original del blog Montessori en Casa:

    No tengo inconveniente en que compartan mi contenido pero lo correcto es que indiquen que la autoría es mía.



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