Montessori teachers are trained to observe and pay attention to what children need most – at any given time and on any given day. We do this simply by taking the time to watch, and then take note.
This power of “observation” can work with your 3 year-old children as well as with your teenagers.
Take a moment to observe:
Does your child need more opportunities for independence? Are you doing too much for your child and not allowing them to learn new things on their own? Choosing what they wear, cleaning up after them, getting their meals, putting their coats and shoes on. You will be surprised what kids can do themselves…and how much they learn by trying things independently. This independence may take more time, but even putting on their own clothes can help develop small and gross motor skills, focus and concentration and a sense of order.
Does the child need order? In early childhood education we talk a lot about developing focus and concentration in young children to help them with future academics. If a young child has trouble at times creating order in their lives, such as rushing from one activity to the next and the inability to focus for any amount of time, we may encourage them to slow down and engage in an activity that they find really fascinating. (They may of course need some physical activity and fresh air first!)
Does the child need movement? Is the child unable to sit still and frequently wiggles around? Does the child act aggressively at times with other children? We can’t say it enough, young children need to move before, during and after they are learning new things.
Is the child ready to read? In a typical 3 – 6 classroom we regularly present sound lessons to children. We make these lessons fun and playful and change it up if the child is getting bored. Sometimes a child has these sounds mastered at the age of 4, sometimes 5 and sometimes 6. Every child is unique and early reading does not mean a brilliant child and guaranteed academic success. We “follow the child” and observe when THEY are ready to blend the sounds into words.
Is your child overscheduled? Free time each day to play, create, dream and discover are invaluable opportunities for your child to learn. Boredom is a good thing!
“Boredom is your brain begging you to be creative!” - Author unknown
Observation works with adults as well. Turn your focus inward to become aware of what it is that you need.
Do you need more sleep? Well-rested parents are more patient and generally much happier. Parents need enough sleep – just as children do.
Recently in an interview with actor, Jack Black, he was discussing being a parent of two young children. He admitted how challenging it is to be “up for the job” of parenting. “The more sleep I get, the better dad I am. Parenting is 90% energy; if you don’t have it, then there tend to be some lazy TV-watching days with the kids, and that ain’t gettin’ it done. A great day with them — my sons are 4 and 2 — is an energized adventure into the world.”
Are you a stay-at-home Mom who needs some time away? Then ask a friend or get a babysitter. Take care of yourself – we all need alone time to re-charge our batteries so make that happen for yourself.
Do you need more physical activity? Parenting children of all ages takes energy! Exercise helps promote better sleep, eating healthier and can help alleviate depression. Even a 10-minute walk outside can make you feel so much better. Just do it.
In the classroom observing what a child may need changes daily and sometimes hourly. As parents we can use this same technique to be aware of what it is our children need at home.