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Observation and the Prepared Adult

Being a Montessori parent is so much more than making pretty spaces or having the right things. It's often about how we interact with our children, and how we prepare ourselves for our children's presence in our lives. Without the prepared adult, Montessori does not work as it should. But, how do we prepare ourselves? This is a question without one easy answer. But, an important part of preparing myself has been learning to observe.

Being a Montessori parent must include the practice of observation, it is through this observation that we become prepared adults

Last night, Gus and I were folding laundry when suddenly he wandered off. I heard him in the playroom quietly working, so I didn't think much of it. I finished my work before slowly going to find him. He was sitting quietly working with his cars and track. It was a time when I could have gone in and played with him, or ushered him off to bed. But, instead, it was a wonderful moment to sit and observe. 

Observation is the key to answering and understanding so many questions:

  • what is your child interested in 
  • what skills is your child working on
  • how does your child challenge him/herself
  • does your environment meet your child's needs
  • is there something getting in the way (including yourself) of your child's natural development 
  • where does your child prefer to work 
  • is your child ready for more/something different/something new 
  • what is your child's intention with this activity
Being a Montessori parent must include the practice of observation, it is through this observation that we become prepared adults

Observation doesn't have to be big and scary. It doesn't have to be time consuming. It can be simple, and natural. It can be taking a few moments to just not make yourself known to your child. Sitting and quietly watching. Being quiet is so hard for me. So different than what is usually expected from us as parents. I think often I feel this pressure to perfect "the art of the test." This is basically drilling our child to test his/her knowledge. "What does this say?" "What shape is this?" "Can you count them?" 

Observation, on the other hand, is letting your child show you. All without expectation, punishment, or reward. And often their own discoveries, knowledge, interest, are SO much greater than anything we could have thought. 

The art of observation probably deserves its own post, but here are a few things I keep in mind while observing:
  • keep quiet and still - it's not observation if you are directing or leading play/work 
  • observe many types of activity
  • sit on your hands if you can't keep yourself from intervening 
  • focus on the big picture AND the details 
  • reserve judgment 
  • try to observe an entire cycle of activity - choosing a work, using a work, cleaning up a work 
  • notice the environment and how it effects your child
There are so many things we can consider when observing. But, it really takes practice to get into the habit. Try to make it part of your daily Montessori parenting! 

Do you intentionally observe your children? Do you find the practice important as a Montessori parent? 


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