During the ages of six to twelve years, humans are in a developmental period of robust health between childhood illnesses and puberty. This healthiness supports the intellectual development of the person. During these years, we are most receptive to learning. Later, learning will require more effort and concentration.
During the child’s years of great intellectual development, we, as adults, have a serious obligation.
Not to teach academic subjects, but instead to put the child into contact with life and his or her responsibility to live and be of service to humankind.
If we lose this opportunity, it doesn’t matter how much knowledge the child gains. A depth of understanding of the role of each human being is what is most important to the child. This adage says it: “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” We do not want to feed the mind and neglect the nourishment of the heart.
To help the six to twelve year-old child make this contact with life, we must become “storytellers of the truth”. We have a human being to enthuse and excite about the greatest adventure in the universe—life.
We tell stories not full of facts but full of drama. We tell stories of the universe coming into being, the earth being formed, life coming to earth, and the two special gifts of human beings-intelligence and love. We dramatize the story of human communication through language and mathematics.
As adults, we connect the child through stories of life, and his or her unique part in the story. When we can enthuse and excite the child with stories, a wonderful transformation occurs in the mind of the child.
History becomes the adventure of people, the child included on the leading edge. Geography becomes the story of the creation of the earth and its continued change. Social studies become the stories of how people meet their fundamental needs of food, protection and love. Biology is the story of life. Math becomes the language of invention, exploration and order. Physics is the story of the movement of objects throughout the universe. The arts show us how to express our stories without words, using pictures, music and movement.
We have this responsibility to connect the child to the mystery, the excitement and the drama—the drama of possibilities of the human being.
Deep in our hearts, each of us knows this truth: We don’t care how much you know, until we now how much you care.
Show our children how to delight in this amazing adventure called life. The mind will follow the heart.
The Riddle From Last Week: In Roman numerals answer “What should every good boy and girl be?”
I am a co-teacher in 6-9 class at Gloria Dei Montessori School, Dayton, Ohio founded by Virginia Varga. Ginny handed me copies of your articles to help put perspective in my head about the children and the Montessori classroom lessons. Thank you so much.
So glad that you are finding the articles helpful. This article is a series of five I am running about the elementary years.
Here is a Kids Talk article that I think helps highlight the differences we see between a five-year-old and a seven-year-old.