The Egyptian culture is heavily based on the warmth of emotions found at home within the family. Driven by the need for these emotions, we tend to get married and have children as early as possible; and we often underestimate the importance of parent education.
Understanding the basics of the Montessori philosophy allows you to understand and answer the needs of your child, which makes the big difference. At Montessori Foundation of Egypt, we are preparing to offer a range of Montessori parenting workshops that are tailored to fulfil the needs of Egyptian parents and families.
Living in a busy and crowded city like Cairo, can easily make parents feel overwhelmed by their daily life. It is often difficult to figure out how to be a "good" parent while keeping up with the daily life stress and busy schedule.
Below are 12 things you need to know about your child in order to raise a Happy Child and enjoy being a Happy Parent!
1 - Movement
Every child needs to move in order to develop physically, mentally, and socially. Adults often limit the movement of their children to keep them "safe". Traditional schools often ask children to stay still for longtime. This limitation interferes with the child's natural development process. While many children will be forced to obey this limiting request, some children will strongly resist. Unfortunately, in both cases, the child's development process is interrupted. Your role as a parent is to understand the child's need to move and to provide ample opportunities of free movement within a safe environment.
2 - Independence
Your child needs your help to learn how to do things by himself. It may seem a little difficult to manage your daily schedule with a child who is still learning how to tie his or her own shoes without a parent who steps in and do it faster. But on the other hand, your child needs to learn how to do things without your help, this allows the child to be confident, independent and successful. Furthermore, raising an independent child would save you from doing your child's work in the future!
3- Unconditional Love
Of course, all parents love their children but this love can be shown to the child in a positive or negative way. For example, if your love to your child drives you to yell at him or her in order to raise a "polite" or "well behaved" child, your love would become a great obstacle that is actually preventing your child from learning how to behave in an acceptable way. Instead, showing your unconditional love to your child while taking the time to talk to him or her and discuss the situation will not only help you to support your child's development; but will allow you both to be confident and happy.
4 - Free Time and Free Play
Filling your child's schedule with "useful activities" is not necessarily good for your child. A child that wakes up early each morning to go to school then returns home to finish homework then goes to a sport training or an art class, is probably suffering from a stressful life and so is the parent. Your child needs to have some free time in order to discover and develop interests and hobbies. A child's free time or free play is not a wasted time; it is actually a great opportunity for him or her to learn more about the world around.
5 - Doing Mistakes
Allowing the child to make mistakes creates an opportunity of learning. When we try to prevent the child from doing any mistakes, we are doing nothing but avoiding this opportunity. Do not teach by judging whether the child is doing something right or wrong. If a mistake is made, model correctly how to do it next time. Never punish or over praise a child; the child's self control and inner discipline system is developed correctly when discipline and control comes from the inside of the child not from the adults in his or her world.
6 - Natural Real Life Tools / Toys
There is no need for fancy or flashy toys that do all the work for the child and just leave him or her watching and being amused for a short period of time. Get toys that encourage children to do something with their hands. Allow your child to own or use age appropriate real life tools. Try to choose wooden or natural tools and toys over the plastic ones.
7 - Connection to the Nature
The child's connection to the Nature is very important for his or her development and understanding of the world. Living in a busy city can make parents underestimate this importance. Growing a small garden in your house, having a pet, and taking your child to parks or outside the city, are all good ways to help your child connect to the Nature and the World around.
8 - Trust your Child
A child needs to feel trusted in order to be confident and to develop healthily. In many cases, our previous negative experienced as adults make us develop a habit of distrusting people, forgetting that children are innocent and capable creatures. When we distrust the child, we send negative messages making him or her believe that he or she is seen as "lier", "selfish", or "lazy". Instead, it is best to let the child explain the situation and trust his or her story because in most cases it is true from the child's point of view. Another way of distrust that we must avoid, is to believe that the child is incapable of doing things carefully and "correctly". When we allow children to carry on responsibilities we would often get surprised by their ability to do tasks in a way that is sometimes better than ours.
9 - Respect your Child
Respect your child's mind because it is capable of doing things that we, adult can no longer do. The children's mind can absorb information from the environment like a sponge. At this, they do not exclude anything, they film like a camera. The child collects information and impressions unconsciously and eventually transfers little pieces of knowledge into the conscious. Montessori taught us to deeply respect children, not interrupting when they are concentrating, allowing them to discover their own mistakes rather than pointing them out. The child must be respected at all levels: yelling, hitting, interrupting, obligating, controlling, labelling (calling the child lazy, bad, naughty... etc) are all ways to strongly disrespect a child who is busy building the man of the future!
10 - Stay Positive
Every word you say, every act you make, is observed and absorbed by your child. Avoid blaming yourself or others, and discussing too many problems or negative situations in front of your child. Using positive words and respectful acts will not only teach your child to stay positive, but will also generate happiness in the whole family.
11 - Prepare the Environment
Try to keep a safe, clean and organized environment that all family members respect and care for. Put the child's own belongings at the child's height so he or she can reach them independently.
12 - Follow your child
Your rule of thumb is to follow your child, this may seem bizarre because we tend to think that we know better than our children. But in fact, the child knows much better than us about what he or she really needs! Step back and observe your child, your would surprisingly realise that your role as a parent is NOT to teach everything to your child, but to allow him or her to learn. You can do so by preparing the environment in which the child lives and by supporting the development of his or her very unique interests and abilities.
For more information about parenting using Montessori principles visit www.aidtolife.org
Choosing a Montessori School or Nursery
Choosing the right Montessori environment for your child is important. Each school or nursery is run independently. “Montessori” is not trademarked, so it is possible for any school, nursery or centre to include the word “Montessori” in their name.
The Montessori Quality Assurance Programme (MQAP) identifies the Quality Standards for Montessori Education and supports schools and nurseries in maintaining these standards. As a parent you can be assured that a school or nursery that is part of the Montessori Accreditation Programme is committed to providing authentic Montessori Education.
As a first step towards AMI Montessori Accreditation, schools and nurseries sign the Montessori Charter which states that:
All children have the right to an environment that is carefully prepared so that it meets and nurtures the developmental needs of each child.
The child is an active participant in the learning process.
Multi-age groups aligned with developmental planes provide for optimal social, emotional and cognitive learning.
Self-discovery and exploration are important parts of the learning process.
A non-competitive approach and the use of self-correcting materials promotes independence and self-confidence.
The culturally diverse backgrounds of families and their active involvement in the school or nursery enrich and foster a community that embraces tolerance and cooperation.
As a result of these beliefs, they strive to implement the Montessori Quality Standards
A copy of the signed Montessori Charter would be displayed at the school or nursery. Additionally, a list of these schools and nurseries will be available on this page soon. The school or nursery is expected to immediately start working towards AMI standards with the mentoring of AMI consultants.
Click here for a list of schools and nurseries in Egypt that are part of the Montessori Quality Assurance Programme (MQAP)