Follow The Child - Reedy Creek Montessori Child Care - Kindergarten - Preschool.
Follow the Child:
A little while ago I had a visitor to our centre in Reedy Creek (www.reedycreekchildcare.com) tell me she and her children had visited another centre claiming to be Montessori and wasn’t impressed. She told me that the children there were allowed to do whatever they wanted and to her it looked like a rowdy group of preschoolers. She could not see how this would be beneficial.
Montessori’s method of education always begins with the Child. In preparation for the children we prepare an environment; this means a classroom that incorporates not just work activities but the arts, somewhere to rest and somewhere to eat. A small home away from home for children. Within that environment there are some set materials developed by Dr. Montessori herself that provide the children with the opportunity to work independently and successfully without interference from a teacher (or Montessori Directoress).
Part of the culture is a component of the method to Follow the Child. The most common misconception of the Montessori method is that the children are “allowed to do whatever they want”. This is not what ‘follow the child’ means at all.
In a Montessori setting to ‘Follow the Child’ means to be respectful of all of the differences that make up each of the individual children within the classroom. It means that the teacher must observe the children and plan and prepare for each of their needs and differences. Observing children is a highly valued practice. Observation is an essential tool, used by the adult to follow the child.
The evaluated outcomes of the observations give a professionally qualified teacher insights into how the children learn best. The teacher can see each child’s preferred approach to learning, how to best provide experiences and what works best for the children both collectively and individually. The observations are used to then prepare the environment – this means that by using the understanding gained by the observation the activities presented are engaging, developmentally challenging and achievable and attractive to the children.
The cycle for Montessori qualified teachers doesn’t begin with her (most are female) and her classroom and her desires for the children…in fact a Montessori teacher has learned to remove herself completely from the equation, that she like the activities and the resources is part of the environment that makes up the experience for the children. The Montessori method is child centred and although the classroom is prepared with what we know are some universally child centric activities to begin with, we also know that the environment is evolving to cater for the needs of the children.
Children new to Montessori classrooms need a different offering to children who have been part of the Montessori method for some time. Children who are at the beginning of their early learning journey have different needs than those who are preparing for their transitions to Primary school. Therefore, the classroom must be evolving to cater to these changes along with the children.
To follow the child in a Montessori environment is to ensure that the child’s needs and preferences are used as the cornerstone of the planning and preparation stages, that when part of the class a child’s needs are not dismissed and that the child is provided with a experiences that allow him to feel the intrinsic joy that being successful in his endeavours will bring, motivating him to try again and to continue his explorations.