Socio-cultural development in early childhood education

“The Child is father of the Man”, these words of William Wordsworth apply more to the early childhood as it is at this stage that the foundation of life is laid and nearly 75% of the adult’s personality is created. In spite of its importance the education of this stage was neglected for a long time. The formal education was started around 6 years. Till then it was considered to be the duty of the family and parents.

In olden days the child was always with the mother. He went wherever the mother went and it was through her that the child was initiated to the society. Therefore the mother was called the “first teacher” and the house the “first school”. The education was imparted through grandmother’s caring actions, stories, lullabies and traditional infant games. The child instead of merely learning 3R’s, learnt the ways of the society and imbibed the cultural values through direct contact with the society. The modern world has resulted modern problems which need modern solutions. Now there are practical difficulties in putting the child in contact with the society. Hence a new setup called “school” is needed to establish the contact between the child and the society.

Society is a large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory and is subjected to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Whereas culture is defined as the knowledge, language, values, customs and material objects that are passed from person to person from one generation to another generation. In order to function in a harmonious way, the society needs some rules and regulations and the members of the society should have certain amount of tolerance. To live in the society it is important to know how other members of the society think and behave. But the human being is not born with this knowledge and hence he relies on the culture which teaches him how to behave, how to dress, what to eat, which gods to worship or how to make or spend money. He learns culture through social participation, interaction, observation and imitation.

The current study involves studying the socio-cultural approach in Montessori Schools. In order to quantify the study it is compared with Kindergarten Schools. Froebel the founder of the Kindergarten method compared the children to tender plants and emphasized the importance of care by tending to every need of the child. He brought movement into the classroom through songs, dances and activities. He was the first person to understand the importance of self-activity and developed “Gifts or Occupations”. He was also the first to advocate learning through play.

Nearly 55 years after the death of Froebel, Montessori started the first Montessori House of Children, Casa dei Bambini and laid a foundation for scientific education. She advocated that the child needs to develop as a human being, as a member of the society and as an individual, independent person. Both Montessori and Kindergarten Methods have their own positive and negative aspects.

This is an interdisciplinary comparative research where the data was collected through case study method, observation, interviews and administering the tests. Two schools from each category Kindergarten and Montessori were selected for the Case Study. 32 children, 16 boys and 16 girls were selected through random sampling method and were administered with the Multi-dimensional Assessment of Personality (MAP) Form P test and the Rubin Social Problem Solving Test. Each child was observed in the playground for his interaction with other children and the teacher. Their parents and teachers were interviewed.


The data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The results of the MAP test showed that there is not much difference between the personalities of the two sets of children, whereas the other two tests revealed considerable difference between the two sets of children.

The Montessori children were more positive in their approach and more pro-social compared to the Kindergarten children. They were significantly high in their social skills in acquiring an object or making a new friendship. While the teachers in Kindergarten schools met their parents once in a term, the Montessori teachers met parents every week. The parent participation in the school activities and parent-education program was much more in Montessori compared to Kindergarten. It was found that Montessori school strictly avoided the junk food and insisted on distributing homemade food while celebrating the festivals and birthdays. The important revelation of this study is that there are no Kindergarten schools according to the norms of Froebel or his followers available in Bangalore, which calls for a methodical research