The Art of Observation - Montessori in Practice at Home

 If there were one important thing that I could pass along about the method at home, it is the art of observation. It is the most simple and completely free concept; often overlooked key to the peace and well-being of you, your child, and home.

The art of observation can completely shift the energy in your home, and often determine the peace in which you can respond to your children. Allowing your family the gift of time to be fully present in the moment can completely shift your energy, and allow you to fully see your child. A much slower pace as a family can certainly help.

The art of observing a child who is deeply absorbed in a moment with complete concentration and intent on mastering the work they have at hand is the heart of the method. This is a very deep conversation that is one of the core principles of the Montessori philosophy, and is perhaps one of the hardest concepts for parents and teachers/guides to grasp. 
These are the moments where we need to pull back and see our children for the people that they are; that they are doing their natural work to build themselves in mind, body, and spirit.

Maria Montessori suggests that teachers who began work in her classroom who have had a more scientific background, more readily grasped the art of observation; given it’s scientific roots. 

Observation requires that we do not readily interfere, and allow the nature of the child to unfold. 

Maria Montessori speaks at length about observation and a great example that will help you so clearly to understand can be found in The Montessori Method that begins on page 86 under the chapter of Discipline. She describes training new teachers in their first days in her classrooms; “training is especially necessary for those who have been accustomed to the old domineering methods of the common school.”  She describes the principles of observation as being one of the most difficult for teachers to put into practice, and I so feel this is true of any adult or parent at home. She offers stories of events with the children in class; She describes a small boy who wishes to see what is happening with the older students who are playing at a water basin with boats. She observes this boy scanning the environment for a solution to help himself, and he intently fixates on a chair and triumphantly begins to climb in effort to see the boats. She observed that the boy had acted on his own accord and looked to himself to devise a solution and acted upon it. This was a huge moment of growth and accomplishment, however the teacher swooped in and grabbed up the child without observing all that he’d just accomplished in those precious moments.

Observation at home can become even more complicated due to all of the daily tasks and rushing that happens in our environments. Maria described a child in a piece that she wrote called The Mother and Child in 1915. A child is working intently and quietly putting on his coat to go to the park. He is taking his time contemplating and practicing this practical task with great concentration. Mother (or other grown person) comes along and grabs the work from his hand to get it done quickly, and scoops up the child to hurry him out the door… to go enjoy the park. This action has told the child many things, but mostly that he needs to rely on an adult because he is not capable. We so often want and hope in our hearts for our children to become confident self reliant grown people, but actions like this rob a child of not only respect but the opportunity to build those precious skills. 

In our home we work to slow down and to give ourselves and our children the grace of precious time. She has given many examples and here is another that is more directed at the prepared environment or having an accessible home. She spoke of a small child in need to pick things up, to sensorially explore his environment, and he is repeatedly told to stop picking things up and to put them down “don’t touch”. Observing and seeing the child needs, reveals his need to have interaction and freedom to explore. We made the decision to place things that we did not wish to be broken up high or away. The philosophy of “he needs to learn not to touch” is a lesson that can come much later. Your child’s growth and development are dependent upon exploration, and creating an accessible space rich with invitations of materials and activities for your child to explore freely are essential.

  When we are pulling back as a family in effort to refocus on peace and slow things down there are a few things I ask myself; Is it necessary? Is this 'thing/event' creating more difficulty and hardship to make happen - then it would be to let it go? Can we slow this down?
I remind myself that quiet observation, and slowing down to actually see what and how my children are interacting with in their environment is everything.
One final thought...
 It's so easy to be hard on ourselves.
All of this takes time and practice, so please be kind to yourself 💕  

It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be.



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