|Our Director of Training, Louise Livingston, considers the concept of “falling behind”.
As we look to support children impacted by lockdowns and school closures, we must consider how we can best nurture children emotionally, socially and academically. Politicians are talking of children “falling behind” or not reaching “school readiness” and suggesting a more is more approach with longer hours, holiday schools and intensive academic support. Yet many teachers – and parents – realise that children are not an industrial product and speeding up the factory production line is not appropriate or helpful.
The truth is children have continued to live a life and to be shaped and developed by their experiences in much the same way that children living through a war are. They will have gained empathy, resilience and perspective. What they need now is community and social interaction, a chance to express their feelings, to readjust and to get ready to engage in schoolwork once more. How might it feel to be told you are behind, and your life is changed forever? How would adults feel if their employers said they were unhappy with their progress during the pandemic and they now need to work longer and harder to catch up?
Maria Montessori had a much more positive view on the resilience of the human being and children’s ability to develop and learn for themselves. Working as a doctor in Rome in the late 1800s, she was tasked with overseeing “uneducable children” living in the city’s asylums. Montessori was able to see beyond the rote learning of the time and observed how children could learn at their own pace. The children flourished when they were given freedom to choose activities; to work at a level that was just challenging enough; to develop self-discipline and to care for their physical environment and social community.