Hello and happy fall! We are getting into the swing of the school year and I can feel normalization beginning in Lower Elementary classroom. Maria Montessori described normalization as a process that occurs over a period of time and requires the child’s total engagement with the materials. Montessori said, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” It is a beautiful process that enables children to find independence, focus and calm in their work. You can also help support this process at home with your child’s reading, chores or even playing peacefully.
One of the most important things is to prepare the environment. For example, if you want your child to enjoy reading and looking at books, prepare an area in your house that encourages this for them. A cozy nook with a comfortable sitting area, a bookshelf at their eye level and interesting books on their reading and interest level will encourage a love of literacy. Frequent trips to the library will peak their interest and help them develop a respect for books. Model silent reading in your home! Show your child what you would like independent reading to look like. While it is important for Elementary age children to practice reading, it is still just as important to read with them. Set aside time each night to read a bedtime story or a chapter of a book. Listening to you will help them develop fluency. Ask questions, make predictions and talk about settings, characters, and problems. This will help them with their comprehension. Spending some quality time with your reading will help them develop a love for reading.
Another key part of helping your child achieve concentration is to offer choice. If you have a chore chart in your house, help your child choose which chore they would like to do that week and the time when they would like to do it. Offering choice means they are more likely to successfully focus on one task at a time. Depending on your child, you may start by offering fewer choices. A large amount may be overwhelming to some. Grace, courtesy and care of the environment is an important work of the child in the classroom. Implementing routines at home to help a child care for their environment will give them a role and help them feel a sense of purpose. When a child completes a task, it can be tempting to reward them with dessert or screen time. Extrinsic motivation may be helpful in the short term, but our goal is for the child to develop an intrinsic motivation. We want them to feel the reward within themselves, to feel the satisfaction of working hard. Recognizing a child’s efforts and communicating specifically the positive ways they have helped can encourage intrinsic motivation. Making a good choice feels good because we have been productive and contributed our efforts to the community.
The final bit of advice I will leave you with is to give your child the gift of time. In our classroom, children have a three-hour work cycle. This ensures that they can have plenty of time to plan, choose and focus on their work. Plan for plenty of time for your child to be able to complete a task at home. If children feel rushed or hurried, they will not be able to obtain the blissful, peaceful feeling of true concentration. Create time in your schedule so that your child can feel successful! If you know it takes your child some extra time to tie their shoes, help them start getting ready earlier. If you know your child enjoys taking their time to choose their outfits, help them set it out the night before. If they choose to help with laundry at home, make sure that they have plenty of time and space to follow through with each step. You can help empower your child by preparing their environment to meet their needs, offering choice and allowing plenty of time. All of these things will help with your child’s focus, concentration, and overall peace! As Maria Montessori says, “The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”