is an integral and continual part of Montessori education
Observation is a tool
that is used by the adult to follow the child (to assess their
abilities and readiness for materials), and developed within the
child (during their early years) to help him classify, store, order, and
work towards his inner needs.
The adult goal of observation
is to learn about the child from a scientific and objective
perspective. This can be a greater challenge to homeschooling
parents as their connection to their own children tends to be more
passionate and emotional than perhaps a teacher in a school setting
might have for their students. As Montessori educators (either at home
or in a school setting) we must keep on top of our observation skills
and use them regularly.
Skills Required to Observe
We must learn to sit silently and
motionless - conscious immobility. In our fast paced world this is
something that many of us rarely do. Our constant physical motion means
we're missing out on cues (physical, verbal, and social) from the
children around us. As well, often times the adult unconsciously becomes
the center of the environment; constantly directing instead of allowing
the children to direct themselves. As the adult it's important to step
back, slow down, and silently view the environment with fresh eyes.
should examine ourselves introspectively; how often would you
normally want to interrupt the children while they are in the 3 hour
work cycle? Are the interruptions really necessary? It's easy to
inject our thoughts and interfere when we see a child struggling with a
concept. Our inner impulses to help, to do it faster, to do it more
efficiently are unnecessary and take the action away from the child.
we speaking to much? Are our voices constantly interrupting the
precise work of our hands while presenting lessons? Are we
over-explaining materials instead of allowing the child to spend time
with the materials and investigate further on their own? Montessori
materials are beautiful didactic (self-correcting) learning materials
that most often do not require excessive speech/language - unless
it's a language lesson!
Record your Observations
After sitting back and observing it's
important to make notes and record your observations for each
child and for the group as a whole. Which materials are being used and
which ones haven't been used in a long while? Is a child avoiding a
particular area and why? What is the atmosphere like? Has the class
normalized? If not, why not? Is there a sense of respect and community
in the environment?
Allow for the Possibility of Change
mind to be open to change. After recording your observations it's
all in front of you in black and white. You can't deny the scientific and objective
truth. Open your mind to accept the possibility that the environment
isn't well prepared enough, or that you're interfering too much, or that
you've not guided the children carefully enough to create the community
with respect and peace. As the 'head' of your community it's up to you
to use your observations to improve the community.