This month the Vermont Early Learning Standards focus on social and emotional learning and Development. VELS emphasizes its importance, writing “ positive social emotional development in early years provides the basis for life-long learning, relates to later academic success, prevents future behavior difficulties and is more effective than remedial practices in later school years” ( Office of Head Start, 2010).
The three main categories for these skills are: Emotions and Self Regulations, Self Awareness and Positive Relationships with Adults and Peers.
This month I would like to focus on Positive Relationships. VELS describes its goal as “the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups, including the skills to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and other help when needed.” In order to achieve this goal, children also must acquire responsible decision-making skills. VELS explains, “ the ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical Standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well being of self and others.”
First of all, Montessori primary programs are for 3-6 year olds . This multi-age class helps children in many ways, particularly for social emotional skills. Older children help younger children and younger children look up to them. For older children they gain great confidence by setting a good example and being role models. It also nurtures a sense of responsibility and accountability in both minds. If conflict arises, children pick up the peace rose from the peace area to express their thoughts and feelings.
Children are allowed to choose their work based on their interests and developmental needs. They show focus on their work and no one should be allowed to interrupt them. Through each work, children gain great confidence, a sense of order, satisfaction, and independence. Each work helps the younger children’s fine motor skills, gross motor skills and coordination.
In the Montessori classroom there are many independent activities. This helps the younger child to concentrate on his work without disturbance, but also helps teach other children to wait for his turn patiently and respectfully. Unlike a traditional school setting, children do not work on the same task at the same time, which helps reduce unnecessary competition and dependence on others. Children’s own curiosity and learning pace must be respected.
The Montessori classroom is a children’s room. The guide and assistant are trained to follow the children. They are not the center of the classroom. Grown-ups model social norms and etiquette in the lessons of grace and courtesy. I believe positive relationships with peers and adults come from love, trust and mutual respect.