The Brain…by David Eagleman

Have you seen the documentary “The Brain”. It is quite amazing! – And very in-tune with what we teach in the 0-3 Montessori AMI Diploma.



Enforced napping over age 2 may cause poorer sleep at night – new research!

Do you work in a childcare centre or with parents who ‘require’ a nap time for all children ? How many hours sleep does a 2+ child really need ? Is napping essential for good development or learning ? What do you offer for a child who seems to have given up their day nap, or who is resisting sleep?

There are so many beliefs about sleep, but surprisingly little research from a psychological and developmental point of view.

So, expect in 2015 a series of newly published research, focusing on children 2-6 (“Preschool”) and whether they need naps and what the consequences are for napping….

Essentially, the research shows that children between 2-4 naturally phase out daytime naps, and prolonging the nap ritual may actually cause them to have more sleep interruptions, and less overall sleep.

This has huge implications for childcare settings, where many jurisdictions ‘require’ a nap time or structure their childcare ratios around an expectation that all children will sleep at a set time.

So, what do you do with children over 2+ who really don’t seem to need or want a daytime nap ?

Scientific evidence for the sensitive periods that Montessori observed.

This chart is from Harvard University and is based on neurological research evidence that shows ‘sensitive periods’ for learning/refining specific abilities of the brain. In my work with parents, I often find myself explaining that the ‘evidence’ we see (observable behaviour) is only the end-point of a whole process – and that the child’s development is a long way ahead of this observable evidence.

Here is the chart from Harvard University: “Neural Connections for Difference Functions Develop Sequentially”.

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And here is a chart of the Montessori sensitive periods:

On the first chart, it shows the development of the structures of the brain related with those specific functions (Sensory pathways for hearing and vision, language and higher cognitive function).
On the second chart, someone’s representation of the Montessori sensitive periods (please tell me if you know the source) – this is the time when we consider the child to be most interested, sensitive to these specific areas, or by the end of that period, generally having acquired those things, at which point the interest wanes.
Do we observe and trust that the child’s natural interest should be the starting point of deciding at what age a specific material should be introduced ?
Our guest speakers, medical and neurological development experts, at the Montessori Days of Neuchatel today, definitely believe so (and they aren’t even Montessori teachers!)…. the child’s natural interest, tuning them in to the things they need to build the next areas/pathways of their brain, and building ‘highways’ of neurological connections, that will ensure permanent learning of skills…that will not be lost in the ‘pruning’ phase of the 6+ year old brain.