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Learning from Observation

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Observation is critical to our role as Montessori Guides. During training, we have lectures and extensive hours about observation. We learn how to observe. It is important for adults to continue honing this skill, to take time to observe every day, to observe the casual moment, to intentionally watch the classroom, or an individual child, or an interaction unfold.

Without observation, we cannot know what a child is ready for, what the group needs, how to connect a child with a material based on anything more than an assumption. Without observation, we’re guessing.

Observation makes it all possible.

learning observation montessori

We observe a child after we’ve given a lesson — how is a child successful, where was I unclear. We observe the group — what are the rules of this classroom? Regardless of what I say, the Rules are what the children live out every day, how they behave. We observe a disagreement about whose turn it was to be in the library — do the children have the skills they need to resolve this themselves, are both children satisfied with the encounter?

What do I see, and what, if anything, do I need to do about it?

When we observe, we can see what is truly happening. As Lindsay Tucker of This Merry Montessori described in her eloquent Spotlight, she noticed her son watching a bird for a seemingly endless amount of time, but didn’t stop him. This is the gift of observation. “I most likely would have pulled his distraction from the bird in the bush because I wouldn’t have thought he was looking at anything special. It was, after all, a baby staring at a bush to anyone passing by.”

Through careful observation, she knew there was real learning happening. The learning that children do constantly; Observation is Learning.

For more on how adults can learn so much through careful observation, listen to this podcast!

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Written by:

Charlotte Wood

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