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Learning in freedom: Experiences about Children’s Active Education between game, music and nature

“Help me do it alone.” On this principle are based the methods of active education that the child does not have to be spectator of the learning process but protagonist.
Through experience, space exploration, building and destroying, relationship with others, the little one will have the opportunity to become a free man and with his own critical thinking.

In fact, Maria Montessori, the founder of modern pedagogy and Active Education in Italy, supports the importance of educating the child to independence and autonomy. This does not mean leaving him free to do whatever he wants, but to help him do his experiences, discover and acquire knowledge and skills.

The activity of the child thus becomes the central point of the educational process, as well as the environment and educational materials are of crucial importance.

Here are some principles inspired by an Active child’s Education:
The educator must observe and never intervene
The task of parents and educators is to help them accomplish their own achievements as they learn to walk, run, and wash. “The master must minimize his intervention. It must be like a guardian angel, who watches for the child not to be disturbed in his free activity. (M. Montessori “Educating Freedom”)

Educational environments must be child-friendly
The school environment must be welcoming and familiar. Inside all the furniture and objects (chairs, tables, sinks …) must be modeled and used according to the needs of the small. It is important that spaces are open so that children can move easily and autonomously, but also interact with the outside environment.

Educate children with the right teaching materials
The teaching materials should be simple even if specially studied, such as objects to be assembled, ribbons, cards that can promote the intellectual development of the child and encourage self-correction of the error.
Educational materials must also educate the senses, develop motor skills, logical-mathematical, linguistic and musical skills.

Game is the baby’s work
The game plays an important role in helping children to be active, to learn to make choices, and to increase their mastery of their actions. As children grow, they have to experience a wide range of disciplines (art, music, language, science, mathematics, social relationships); Each of these matters is important for the development of a complex and integrated brain.
The toys must be simple, usable in autonomy, so very safe too. Through these, children learn to know themselves, others, and the world around them.
Active education prefers individual and free games to collective ones though supervised by the educator. The child must be free to do so while respecting the order of things and be able to collaborate with others by following the method of mutual teaching.

The child must be in contact with nature
It is important to make the child in contact with nature as much as possible, because the feeling of nature grows with attendance and exercise. A child left in the midst of nature pulls out muscle energies higher than what parents think.

Children should approach music to preschool age
According to Maria Montessori, music promotes autonomy in the small, the spirit of collaboration and participation, respect for each other, freedom. This is because it has the ability to open up the heart and make it more sensitive and human.
Compared to the language that tends to create walls between people, music unites all men into a single large community and must therefore remain a good accessible for everyone.

Halloween party and children’s fears

Every day children are fighting with their own shadows and for this reason many people think is useful to avoid other difficulties to them, making children growing up in a sweetened world without confrontation with fear. In some cases parents also demonize folk tales that speak of bad, orcs or monstrous characters that could increase the sense of insecurity and anxiety of children. Over the years many stories, considered too sad and bloody, have even been rewritten and transformed into colorful and sparkling tales where the characters have happy families and happy lives.

Fairy tales, however, are a metaphor of life and how can be denied to a child that death exists, as well as pain and difficult times to overcome?

Actually fear is a primary emotion and probably has a self-protective function which is useful to the growth of the child, because it activates in him behaviors that defend it from potential dangers: for example, if a child would not be afraid of the dark would not be held back by walk in unsafe and dark places, risking easily to get hurt.

The various fears of children, during their growth, are potentially infinite and depend largely on individual histories, but there are a number of fears that may be considered typical of developmental age (Quadrio Aristarchi, Puggelli, 2006): separation, darkness, death, abandonment, snakes, ghosts, monsters, doctor, etc. (To learn more we recommend the article: Quali sono le paure dei bambini …)

Precisely for this reason it is essential that a parent will help the child to recognize and understand their fears helping him to externalize and to overcome them. It is also important to understand when, behind some fears, are hiding real needs and requests for help.

Many times the fears of the children also end up to distress parents and often these are the ones that feed them through the mechanism called “emotional contagion.”

If parents are frightened, the child will be much more scared because he learns and reinforces that stimulous is really dangerous; if parents minimize the events on the contrary help him to frame the fact into perspective (Quadrio Aristarchi, Puggelli, 2006).

The storytelling of the fairy tales is definitely one of the most effective among the various methods recommended by child psychologists to help children deal with their fears.

The famous psychologist Bruno Bettelheim argued that telling scary stories to children was important because it helped them to exorcise the anguish and to disclose it externally.

Through stories children learn to live the strongest emotions in a secure manner, without being directly involved, and enjoying the reassuring proximity of a parent. At the same time they learn that, as in fairy tales the heroes get the kingdom and the happiness, even in real life you can overcome adversity with strength, intelligence and courage.

In almost all the folk tales we find some common elements as fear, courage, defeat of the danger, happy ending.

Bad characters in folktales embodies precisely the danger that will be defeated by the bravery and intelligence. Stories always have a happy ending and all the good characters are stronger and happier than before.

“Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

~ G. K. Chesterton, writer