“The expression on the child’s face was one of such concentrated attention that is seemed to me an extraordinary manifestation”.–Dr. Maria Montessori (The Advanced Montessori Method, 1965)
What is so important about concentrations?
What does uninterrupted concentration look like?
By not interrupting the child’s concentration, starting at birth, it allows them to focus and us to observe their interests. The slightest word or movement can interrupt their precious concentration.
Since birth, we have been very mindful that we didn’t, or allow others to, interrupt the girls when they were focused on something. This seems simple, but there were so many times the girls would be looking at something and someone would say something along the lines of, “Oh, what are you looking at?” While this doesn’t seem like much, it would cause them to stop and look at the person talking. Successfully interrupting their concentration.
Even out on a walk, we would pause–for however long they need–so that they may concentrate on trees and flowers that they happened to show interest in. This may have been just a few seconds or several minutes. This is something we began at birth and still practice, regardless of where we are.
We help encourage their ability to concentrate by having an environment that supports this by limiting materials that are purely for entertainment and are often powered by battery. These may otherwise be known as active toys, they don’t aid in the development of skills. Toylike these are often marketed as being able to make our child smarter, but are they really?
Passive toys are powered by the child, thus allowing them to develop skills. They develop problem-solving abilities while offering mental and physical challenges. The simplicity of material can cause a child to become more creative. An example: At my grandmother’s house, T doesn’t have his superheroes, so he draws them.
I’m convinced that we are now seeing the effects from having protected their concentration from the beginning.
Now, they show great interest and will concentrate on something for long periods of time. Recently, they, particularly V, have been interested in having daddy show her how things work. When going for walks, he wraps his foot with a bandage. She will hand him this bandage and just watch as he wraps and unwraps his foot or leg. Upon placing the bandage on the side table, she will often hand it back and watch him do it again. This will go on for a long time.
Hubby makes Montessori materials, often putting some of the items together in our sitting area. E and V both will come and observe. There are times they are able to assist with certain tasks, but when a task only requires daddy, they are content just watching.
They also enjoy viewing him complete little tasks around the house, like fixing one of the kitchen drawers.
We don’t bring toys or materials when going on bike rides. And for long car rides, while they have a few items, we find that they spend most of their time staring out the window.
We own a sailboat with my in-laws and, while we haven’t taken the girls sailing yet, we will go and visit or enjoy a meal just watching the water. Like when we go for bike rides, we don’t bring anything to “entertain” them. They watch people on the dock, check out the water, look for birds or fish, and participate in the conversations. They might find something on board to explore, like the steering wheel or a water bottle, or practice climbing a different set of stairs going down into the cabin and coming back on the deck. This is also a way we respect them. We know that they are fully capable and don’t need to be entertained.
I’m a firm believer that us not interrupting them has lead to them having a great amount of patience. When they are asked to wait for something (meals while being prepped or a toy to become available), as long as they are able to watch, we are met with little resistance.
How do you encourage concentration in your home?
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