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Montessori Reflections: The power of observation

Maria Montessori was first a scientist and knew that the method of observation was critical in moving forward. As she observed children in clinics, she learned what they needed to thrive. These discoveries, ”secrets of childhood” as she called them, changed the course of her life from medicine to education. From her practice in this method, we have learned that observing the children, reflecting on their needs and desires, and implementing what is missing (or removing obstacles) allows teachers to follow each child and provide an individualized education!

Furthermore, Montessori stressed the importance of preparing ourselves as teachers. This meant that we needed to observe ourselves, ensuring that we knew our limitations and were committed to continuing our growth. Adults need to understand themselves and their triggers enough to know when not to react and when to step in to aid the child, which is important for the child’s growth.  

As Montessori teachers, we continue our self-discovery AND strive to consistently put valuable time aside to observe our students so we know what each individual needs. With uninterrupted time to see what children choose, how they interact with materials and their peers, what challenges them, and how they have grown in every way we have a better picture of each child, the community of students, and the function of the physical classroom.

Here are a few questions that the lead teachers have asked themselves this past year as they take time to observe their students that may be enlightening to you in your home also:

  • What do the children do that shows joy?

  • How do they enjoy helping?

  • What do children talk to each other about?

  • What skills do children use to work through conflict?

  • How do children show creativity with their work?

  • What are the students yearning for as spring blooms around us?

“As we observe children, we see the vitality of their spirit, the maximum effort put forth in all they do, the intuition, attention and focus they bring to all life’s events, and the sheer joy they experience in living.”  -Maria Montessori


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