Technology in Montessori is a particularly grey area. Parents question how much technology they should use with their child? Will they be left behind from their peers if they are not tech savvy from a young age? And would Maria Montessori have encouraged technology in learning?
Unfortunately, there are no definitive answers on this complex subject and you must decide on what fits best for your child and family. Especially in current times of COVID-19 many families are socially isolated and virtual connection seems to make us reliant on technology more than ever.
If technology is part of our children’s world, how can we ensure we use it to our advantage?
Reality-based playIt is well advised that parents limit or omit passive technology use completely for children aged under 6 years. Mindless viewing has little value for infants and toddlers, whereas unstructured play and human interactions carry far more value. Encouraging your child to focus on reality and meaningful manipulative work helps maintain an active healthy lifestyle. Maria Montessori was clear that learning abstract ideas first begins with a child’s own hands and by using concrete objects.
Learning toolWith careful age and developmentally appropriate selection, technology can support our exploration and connection to the world. Maria Montessori did not include technology in her educational methods since the basis of her approach was over a century ago. Maria Montessori was a scientist and innovator and would have most likely selectively implemented parts into her method. Technology has always played a crucial role in how education has developed and will continue to be a driver in educational innovation.
Think beyond screensTechnology far exceeds screen time. Digital cameras and magnifiers, programmable toys, video cameras, CD players and computers with appropriate software are all types of technology. Aim to avoid excess pre-created material but introduce activities such as creating a family photo book or an audio book with your child.Technology should not be used as a substitute for human interaction. Be conscious of how much time your child spends with technology and ensure supervision of any screen time.
Parents unplugTechnology is present wherever we turn and children are naturally drawn to this. Parents need to model appropriate technology use. Being constantly ‘connected’ often means being not fully present when with your child. Consider leaving devices in another room or putting them in a basket in quiet mode before engaging in quality family time.
Aim to strike a balance with technology and a healthy active lifestyle with your child and family.