It can be very beneficial for young children to choose the same activities every day. By repeating and repeating the activity, your child is mastering the skill or refining her understanding of the concepts involved. While the child is still learning and gaining from the activity, a Montessori teacher would not deter her from choosing and doing it as often as she wants. Like Rafael Nadal perfecting his tennis stroke, lots of practice is vital!
Your child’s Montessori teachers will observe your child carefully and when they notice that she has become less focused on the activity they will take the opportunity to present a more challenging extension of that activity or another activity. For instance, if she loves to pour, the teacher might introduce her to practical applications of pouring; such as pouring a drink for morning tea or filling a bowl to experiment the activity ‘sink or float.’ Montessori teachers are also alert to what it is that most appeals to your child about an activity. Is it the sounds of the little grains being poured from one jug to another? Perhaps your child would find the Sound Cylinders appealing? Montessori teachers will closely observe your child to see what interests her; perhaps she is curious about activities other children are doing? The teacher may also talk with you to see what your child is interested in doing at home.
If your child seems resistant to the idea of trying something new and unfamiliar, there are a variety of strategies teachers employ to entice the child to try the activity, especially when your child seems ready or likely to enjoy and benefit from the activity. For instance, the teacher might invite your child to watch one of her peers doing the new activity or let her see doing a teacher engaged with the activity and obviously finding it enjoyable!
Montessori teachers want the children to develop their ability to be autonomous, independent and to make choices for themselves. Therefore they do not insist that the child do something they are not inclined to do right now. If your child does not seem keen on trying a new activity, the teacher would leave it for another time or day. Children like to return to activities that might seem too easy to adults. Your child may sometimes be in need of some downtime and want to spend a while doing something which is simple and soothing.
Montessori teachers do not give up; they will continue to present, and present, and present new activities to your child, to entice her to try new experiences and encounter new knowledge. Montessori teachers have faith that when the time is right that your child will be ready and eager to engage with new learning.
Author: the teaching team at Mana Montessori, Whitby, Wellington, New Zealand
First Published: 12/05/12