Child'space offers a unique combination of two child-centred approaches in our early learning sessions. Our understandings and practice are underpinned by the complementary philosophies of the Montessori Method and the Suzuki ECE Approach. A summary of each of these philosophies follows.

The Montessori Method originated from the work of Dr Maria Montessori, an Italian doctor and educator, which began in 1907. Dr Montessori pioneered many of the ideas which are now recognized as best practice in early childhood settings all over the world and her work has been validated by modern scientific research into how children learn and develop from birth.

There are several key characteristics of an authentic Montessori learning environment: 

Order and Structure - this provides a foundation for the child’s developing autonomy. Everything has its place, and everyone learns to maintain common order. Routines are modeled by the adults and help the child to anticipate, initiate and participate in their chosen work. Babies and toddlers have a high need for order and structure, and thrive in an environment where things work in a predictable way.

Freedom - the child is free to choose their own activity throughout each session. At no time are they coerced into work of the adult’s choosing. Even the youngest child has the ability to choose and every child will learn to make great choices if they are supported by loving and sensitive adults who consciously foster freedom.

The Absorbent Mind - the child from birth to 3 is in the period of the unconscious absorbent mind. This is the term we use to describe how the child learns. The child's mind is like a sponge, soaking up and absorbing everything in their environment, and using all that is absorbed unconsciously during this time to construct their knowledge of how the world works. The child learns effortlessly and without conscious awareness. 

The Sensitive Periods - there are windows of opportunity for learning new skills throughout a child’s life. Learning that takes place during a sensitive period is easy, joyful, and lasting. We try to match the activities available with the child's sensitive periods, in order to maximize the opportunity that these periods present. The sensitive periods in the life of the baby and toddler include movement, language, self-care, order, weaning and sensorial development.

Independence - the strongest drive facing the infant and toddler is the drive to independence. How often do we hear the smallest child saying “me do it” in a tone that brooks no opposition! With the goal of independence from the adult in mind we focus our efforts on helping the child to do it for themselves. Everything is placed in the environment to help children to master the ability to act independently, to be the captain of their ship.

Gentle Discipline - we do not use rewards and punishments to make children do what we want. We focus on our long term goal for our child - the development of a noble heart - and ask ourselves at every turn, “Is this going to help us to achieve that goal?” Always using our gentlest voices, softest touch and most loving heart, we recognize that the growth of disciplined children, depends on the building up of their will, not breaking it down. 

Cycles of Activity - each job, chosen, worked with, and completed, is called a cycle of activity. Children who complete a series of cycles independently are working in accordance with their nature. They are able to remember a set of steps, they are able to complete those steps in sequence, they are using procedural and long term memory, they are developing concentration and they are increasing their capacity for independent and productive work. We support our children in the completion of each cycle of activity.

Play is the Child’s Work - our activities are called jobs and our children are working when they choose an activity to engage with. Just as we respect the work of our adult friends, we understand that the work of the child requires uninterrupted time to be meaningful and satisfying. We acknowledge that the task of self-development is important and we demonstrate that by protecting our children's concentration and minimizing interruptions to their work. 

Hands-On Experiences - we understand that young children learn best by doing. We give children a chance to try things for themselves before jumping in, or taking over. We offer help only when they ask for it. We have created an
environment rich in motives for spontaneous and purposeful activity, that offers the youngest child the chance to touch, see, hear, smell and taste everything in their world. 

Social Learning - humans are social by nature and children are no
exception. The social life of the child depends on the chance to be a part of a community. We purposefully group children of multiple ages together to foster peer interactions. Children learn best from each other, and even the youngest of children can serve as models for others. Everyone in our community is important, and we all work together to create a safe and loving environment in which to work. 

The Suzuki Philosophy for Early Childhood Education is based upon the work of Dr Shinichi Suzuki, a Japanese violinist and music teacher. Dr Suzuki's work is recognised worldwide for its ability to develop exceptional musical ability in very young children. 

The Philosophy is based on seven key concepts:

Every Child can Learn - based on the knowledge that every child is able to speak the language of their birth fluently, we know that every child has huge potential to learn as long as they are given an educational environment that
follows their natural path of development.

Ability Develops Early - the early years are the most important for laying the foundations of knowledge, skills and personality. The brain has a huge capacity to absorb and develop, and the first three years of life are critical for the connections being made in the brain. 

Environment Nurtures Growth - the environment that we create for children will shape the whole child. With this in mind we carefully plan, create, observe and adapt the learning environment in order to create holistic developmental opportunities to the child. All work is of equal importance. 

Children Learn from One Another - mixed age groupings allow children to learn from imitating and watching each other. It provides a family-like setting and develops self-esteem and fosters gentleness and sensitivity.

Success Breeds Success - every little step your child makes is recognized, celebrated and acknowledged. Each small step leads to further growth and development. We help you to be a keen observer of your child’s small steps, and to foster further learning starting from what your child can already do.

Parental Involvement is Crucial - your relationship with your child is the key. You act as a role model for your child, and all the children in our learning environment. Your child absorbs your actions and relies on you to act with calmness and confidence.

Encouragement is Essential - encouragement is fundamental in the growth and development of your child. Acknowledging your child's efforts builds up the incentive to try new challenges. A shared sense of awe and wonder at the important work undertaken by your little one, will make learning together fun. 

Here is a video sharing the foundations of a Suzuki ECE class, for an idea of what our music program is based upon.

Copyright by The Child'space Project