Skip to main content

Montessori and Waiting - 2 Solutions We Use at Home

Here's something about me - I have very little patience. It's true! Patience is something I struggle with immensely. I don't want to wait for anything. So, I empathize with my kids when they struggle with patience. And, because they are kids, they struggle often! Waiting is hard, especially when you consider that children's brains aren't fully developed and their impulse control is just significantly less mature. 


As a Montessori family, we use two different techniques to help with waiting. Both work really well so I wanted to share them in case you struggle with waiting in your family. These are both techniques that I have picked up observing in Montessori classrooms and have had success with at home for many years. They both involve keeping the waiting child's hands busy and working on some connection so they know they are being heard as they wait. 

Hands Behind the Back

I often call this our observation stance! Hands behind the back is something that helps with children that are waiting for their turn to use something. So for example, Gus was using our juicer to make some orange juice the other morning, but Nora also really wanted a turn. Without knowing how to wait, it's very likely she would go and start touching Gus' work, or trying to wiggle her way into the work. Which would cause Gus to get upset and lead to a whole sibling meltdown. Instead, Nora knows that she can stand near Gus and put her hands behind her back. Her hands can grab each other - feeling that connection - and work as a reminder to keep her body out of Gus' work. 


I start to teach this as soon as my toddlers can stand steady. If there is something where they need to stand back and wait, I will help them by standing with them, and gently move their hands behind their backs. I also always make sure to model this when I'm observing something they are doing or one of the other kids. Teddy is in this phase right now, and I expect that he'll pick it up very quickly since all the kids do it naturally while they wait. 

Even in these pictures of Nora, she naturally goes to that pose since she is "waiting" to get her picture taken.



Hands on my Shoulder 

The second trick I use is when my kids need my attention but I'm not available. They need to wait until I can switch focus and see what they need. Sometimes it's because I'm presenting work to someone else, or talking with another adult or on the phone. Instead of interrupting, they can place their hand on my shoulder (if I'm low to the ground, which is often) or on my back/side of my leg if I'm standing. Once they place their hand, I use my own hand to touch theirs to acknowledge that I know they are waiting. 


As soon as I am able, I will switch my attention to them, thank them for waiting, and see what they need. It's an easy way for them to get the connection they need in the moment and support them through their need to wait. This is something that I don't think toddler's do super well. So, it's usually around age 3 that I introduce (through a grace and courtesy lesson - so like role playing) to my children. We will play a little game and pretend to wait and show them what to do instead of interrupting. 

These two simple tricks have really helped make our home a calmer more patient place! Do you have any ways that you help your children learn to wait? 

---




Comments

reeba said…
I love both of these ideas and am going to give it a go with my three year old.

Please could you elaborate on the grace and courtesy modeling. Would you role play for a few days and then at a time when it’s required remind them of it? (Or avoid the reminding but after role playing they will realize themselves)

Would love to hear more of your thoughts about grace and courtesy in general - some practical ways to implement it at home, or topics that are used...

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2020

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure! 2020 UPDATE: This list is updated for another year! Enjoy a variety of Montessori friendly finds from both major retailers and smaller shops!  So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created toys, but only works for classroom settings. While there are many works that I recommend for home school use, you won't find these

Sensitive Periods from Birth to 6 - A Chart and Guide

Dr. Maria Montessori spent her life observing, studying, and writing about children. During her lifetime of work she discovered that young children move through a series of special times when they are particularly attracted to specific developmental needs and interests. She called these times, sensitive periods. During the sensitive period, children learn skills related to the sensitive period with ease. They don't tire of that work, but seek it, crave it and need it. When the sensitive period passes, this intense desire is gone, never to return.  That doesn't mean the skill is lost forever once the sensitive period is over. Instead, it just means that it will take a more conscious effort to learn. As Dr. Montessori explains,  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. "A child learns to adjust himself and make acquisitions in his sensitive periods. These are like a beam that lights interiorly a battery that furnishes energy. It is this sensibility which enables

Working from Home with Kids - A Montessori Schedule

One part of my life that I haven't talked a ton about here on The Kavanaugh Report is how I'm a work-from-home parent. Eight years ago I started to work at home while parenting full time. For the first several years, I worked as a legal writer while maintaining this space on the side. When Gus was born, I moved into working on sharing our Montessori life full time. It has blossomed into a full time career sharing content here, teaching courses, and now the podcast! Through it all, my kids have been home with me.  This all seems more relevant to so many of us now that Covid-19 has closed schools and forced parents to stay at home and work while caring for children. I'm not going to lie - it's tough. It's hard to balance work and kids, especially when children are used to a completely different routine. But, it's not impossible! And, it can even be enjoyable.  As I talk about in my podcast Shelf Help , we block our days into 3 hours groups. It helps