How a Child Changes as a Six Year Old

SAN DIEGO - Jan. 8, 2020 - As children grow, their brain achieves a new level of development. "A child changes as a six year-old in several areas," Kristin Edwards, M.Ed., Director of Lifetime Montessori School in San Diego, says.

"First, children evolve from a concrete learner to an abstract learner. And secondly, they develop significant social awareness."

Growth of Abstract Learning

Younger children begin their learning years in a concrete fashion. They see, touch, feel, hear and learn via these fundamental skills.

"Beginning at about age six, we teach our Montessori students new ways to learn—especially in math, history, language, and science," Edwards says. "History is completely abstract and only a six and up student can imagine historical facts enough to retain them. Let's also take photosynthesis."

To young elementary school students, we can:
- unveil a chart detailing a cross-section of a plant
- illustrate how a plant is a factory
- show how a plant takes in the sun and water and releases oxygen as a result.

"A six-year-old child will get an impression of how this works. But a younger child will not as their brains have not yet learned to process abstract thinking," Edwards says.

Higher Level Internal Brain Processing

Especially in math, language, history, and science, teachers make use of children's higher development. For example, we can teach the differences between 'bring me a pencil or a tissue' and 'bring me happiness.' It's the difference of understanding that language has many nuances.

Social Awareness

Younger children are self-centered. Their development is understanding themselves, others and their environment. But, once a child hits six, they become aware of everyone else in their environment and community.

"Now you'll find elementary school students looking at their peers and telling them what to do or not do. They'll boss each other around and tell on each other. What they're really doing is understanding right from wrong and making sense of it all going forward," Edwards says. "And that's a big shift."

The Montessori Difference

"In our private school in Santaluz, we teach children individually in small groups with children at their same level regardless of age," Edwards says. "As a result, they work together, share knowledge together."

"This is a key difference from public elementary school where large groups of kids of the same age are engaging in memorization rather than communication. This way we are aware of how a child changes as a six-year-old," Edwards says.

Lifetime Montessori School in San Diego teaches 200 students via toddler, preschool, kindergarten and elementary programs. Tuition ranges from $13-15,000 per year. Visit for more information.

Robert Gavin

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