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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Observing our children

     In our evening Parenting Class, we have been discussing the importance of observation. Montessori teachers fully understand how much can be learned through quiet and consistent observation – in fact observing is a major component of our training - but this concept may be new to parents.

     So much can be learned about children through regular observation. Observation gives one a chance to see where a child is developmentally and what skills he or she is working to perfect. In the class, I used the example of something my son did when he was very young. He was sitting in his highchair with a bowl of Cheerios-like cereal. He took the cereal  out of the bowl, one by one, and placed them in the tray of the chair. When he had taken all of them out, he began to put them all back, one by one, into the bowl. When the little circles were all back in the bowl, he began to take them out again, one by one… This went on for about 20 minutes.

     What I observed was not a child mindlessly playing with his food but a young child working very hard to perfect his pincer grip. His concentration was intense and we (his parents) did not interfere. We just observed. This observation gave us the insight to later offer him more opportunities for continued work on his pincer grip.

     The point I'm trying to make using this example is that without observation, I might have stepped in and taken the Cheerios away in the misguided understanding that he did not want to eat them. He may not have and, by observing, I saw what he was doing. Had I whisked the bowl away from him at that moment, I would have interfered with his learning (thrown up an obstacle) and, most likely, made him cry.

     Observation is an invaluable tool for parents. By waiting and watching parents can see what drives and motivates a child. They will be able to provide their child with more activities to continue honing their skills and observation gives parents an insight into behaviour that is often incorrectly labelled as 'misbehaviour'.

1 comment:

Patricia White said...
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