Next week our Parent Observation Week begins for our Primary and Elementary classrooms. Most of you have now signed up for the opportunity to come into the classroom to observe your child. Although being on-time to school is always taken seriously, we do ask that next week your child arrives to their classroom no later than their designated arrival time. Parents will begin their observation promptly at 8:45am and we will want to limit any interruptions.
Maria Montessori based much of her theory on the observation of the child: his needs, interests, and natural development. In order to “follow the child” we must do our best to understand what drives him. Montessori observed that there are universal “tendencies” that all children share. For example, young children have the desire to manipulate objects, and have a strong sense of order. In addition to these tendencies, each child also has unique needs and interests.
Observation is the most fundamental link between the adult and the child, allowing the adult to see both the universal and the unique needs of each child. It is an important guide for our interactions with our children.
When you arrive at school, please leave your purse or any of your belongings in the office. Please note that unlike our other school events, infants are not welcome into the classroom with you as this creates a major distraction and changes the dynamics of the environment. Cell phones or any type of video recording are not allowed during observation time. When you enter the classroom, you will see two adult sized chairs. Please make your way to an observation chair as quietly as possible. The goal when you enter the classroom is to observe as silently as possible, so as not to disrupt the children working. Imagine you are a fly on the wall. The children may or may not acknowledge you. Please do not talk to the children when you come inside or while you are sitting in the observation chair, unless a child initiates a conversation with you. If a child approaches you and has prepared tea or a snack for you, please accept.
A clipboard will be provided for you on your chair, as well as a paper and a pen. Please write down your observations of the children: their interactions, their mannerisms, or anything else you find interesting about them. Observation is meant to be objective, so please keep your observation notes as objective as possible (which can be hard to do sometimes)! You may see children working on a table or a mat. And you may see children who appear to be “wandering around.” Sometimes children need a bit of time when they first enter the classroom to choose their work. Sometimes the child has just finished a big work and now needs to walk around. He or she may even choose an “easier” work to compliment the more difficult one just completed. Or sometimes you may see a child sitting on a chair or stool against a wall: this child is observing his peers working. This is all part of the process.
Attached is an article called “The Art of Observation” published in the AMI/USA Newsletter in 2010. Please take the time to read this article. The chance to simply observe your child, instead of interacting with your child, offers a unique opportunity to understand your child in a deeper way.