“When dealing with children there is greater need for observing than of probing.” – Maria Montessori
Montessori training teaches you the importance of slowing down completely to simply observe. To stop doing, and start watching.
I’m a doer. As a Teacher in the classroom, I took pride in being able to bounce from child to child and deliver the lessons they needed at the exact right time for their individual development. I moved at the speed of light and in such a frenzy that I was doing the opposite of communicating the calm nature I hoped to instill.
What I found during my practicum, when I was forced to take 20-30 minutes during the school day to simply sit and observe the children, was that they often didn’t need me nearly as much as I thought.
Some of the most meaningful learning came either from one another, or when they figured something out on their own. When I was rushing around, determined to teach them things, I was often inadvertently robbing them of the opportunity to discover things for themselves.
Recently I went out onto the toddler playground, with this in mind. A group of children were busy washing the chalkboards outside but there was one little guy crying by the door to go back in. He was new to the classroom and having some transition blues. I tried to comfort him… to no avail. He wasn’t impressed with my offer of hugs or cajoling. So I went to plan B. I asked an older girl on the playground to check on him and ask if he was okay. Then I stepped back. This little girl went over, took him by the hand, gave him her brush to wash the chalkboard and proceeded to guide him on exactly how to do the lesson. He was fascinated; no longer scared, but engaged and excited. And the little girl felt pretty proud as well.
Children don’t need us to make them smarter, faster, kinder, or stronger. They don’t even need us to tell them they already are. They don’t need us to chase their demons for them; they need us to step back and give them opportunities to prove to themselves that they are capable of slaying their own.