How can you make sure to give yourself time to observe the children while guiding them?

Observation is a habit that each of us must find a way to manage daily.  In the beginning, it may not be daily, but that should be the goal.  Does this mean you sit to the side, pen and paper at hand, removed from the children?  Not necessarily.  Observation should be going on all the time – and with a small notebook in a pocket or elsewhere readily available, a few notes can be recorded for later reflection. Once the children become truly engaged in the work you will find that there are moments when it appears as if no one needs you.  Sit and observe for those brief moments and record your reflections.  Which child/ren tends to wander, tend to interfere with others, and tend to be deeply engaged in anything that involves water, or movement? Which children can work with another child and continue to concentrate?  Which child is ready for a new lesson?

Once any level of concentration is observed, protect it, cherish it, and feed it with similar experiences so that the period of concentration expands.  The ability to concentrate on a task is a needed skill and a preparation for many later activities. Never, never interrupt a child who is concentrating – even and perhaps especially to say, “Good work!”

If you have a moment to sit and observe and a child asks what you are doing, simply respond, “I’m doing my work.”  We use the phrase, “my work”/”your work” frequently so this is a comment a child understands.  Sometimes, especially in a Casa a child will watch you write and a reading child will try to read what you have written.  We do the same with them.

With non-verbal children, our observation skills are the only aid we have in planning our presentations with the children.  With a Casa, there are certain sequences of materials but we need to truly observe a child’s work to determine what they need to be presented next.

Observation is a habit that we can cultivate and use anywhere in our lives.  In a restaurant, at a concert, in a forest, etc.  Being an observer allows us to engage with and appreciate Life at a deeper level.

Teacher observing child working on Montessori materials