THE MONTESSORI INFANT AND TODDLER: PRESENTING AND THEN STEPPING BACK

“The instructions of the teacher consist then merely in a hint, a touch—enough to give a start to the child. The rest develops of itself.”- Maria Montessori

Sometimes it can be so difficult to prevent ourselves from interfering when introducing new material to a child–by explaining too much, giving too many direction or showing the operation too many times.  When presenting a material, it may even be tempting to guide the child’s hand.  I’ve read that Maria Montessori would count the rosary beads she was wearing to prevent interfering. 

I remember when showing the girls the permanence box the first few times.  They would bring the ball so close to the hole that I wanted to assist more.  I’d have to stop and remind myself: I’ve had thirty something years to practice and perfect my skill, while they are just being introduced to it.  It’s all new to them and it’s going to take a moment for them to gain experience.  It’s all about the process, not the product.  

If I assist unnecessarily, it’s not their accomplishment and I’ve stolen the experience of them discovering it on their own.  When I think about it that way, it would be pretty cruel of me to rob them of that opportunity and it makes it easier to not intrude.

It’s also normal for a child to explore parts of their work individually before wanting to work it as a whole.  A prime example, again, is the permeance box.  When bringing it out, I would put the ball through three times.  Then I would sit back and observe.  Once V put the ball through, she no longer showed interest and back to her drum.

“The fundamental help in development, especially with little children of 3 years of age, is not to interfere. Interference stops activity and stops concentration.”- Maria Montessori

E wasn’t interesting in the permanence box, she just wanted to play with the ball for the longest time.  This went on for months and I thought she would never be interested in combining the box and the ball, but I didn’t interfere.  I’d sit on my hands or clean something while she did her thing.  “Praise, help, or even a look, may be enough to interrupt him, or destroy the activity….  The great principle which brings success to the teacher is this: as soon as concentration has begun, act as if the child does not exist.”-Maria Montessori 

 

First, the ball is going to be the main focus for a long time.  Sometimes for a very l o n g time.  And that’s ok!  They want to explore their materials fully and, really, that’s what we want.  So I don’t rush it.  When first introducing a new material, I know they aren’t going to care about it as a whole, at least not for a bit.

Then, out of nowhere, E made the connection between the ball and the permanence box and enjoyed working with this material for a long period of time.  The joy she experienced, when she was ready to complete the work and succeeded on her own.    

Too often we see other children near the same age of our own and wonder why they are doing so much more (yay, social media).  First off, again, that’s social media and people, generally, are only going to post the highlights, not “behind the scenes”.  Camera angles also aid in leading to disillusions.  But regardless, there is no competition except for the ones we have imposed and choose to participate in.  So don’t worry and let them take their time❤️     

We need to honour our children– where they are at in development, milestones–and their process of growth.    

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