Back to Basics: Being a Prepared Adult

With the overwhelming amount of images on social media it sometimes can be easy to reduce Montessori education and learning to trays, shelves, materials and printables. Whilst these are important aspects of the prepared environment, it is only one aspect of a bigger picture.

Even the most seasoned Montessorians I know take the time to reflect and get back to basics, it is an important part of our process and our own life long learning. Re-reading key texts can provide new insights or remind us of something we may have forgotten or that has slipped from our repertoire. As we collect new experiences, the same words can offer new meanings

Observe, Observe, Observe

Observe everything. Observe what they choose, what they avoid, what interest's them, what doesn't, their preferences, their fine and gross motor skills, all of it! It may not always be possible to record everything, but undertaking regular observations and keeping anecdotal notes of key aspects can build a strong reference point for each student. Observation is key to assisting the child to reach their full potential.


All that observing is worthless if it is happening in a vacuum. This process is creative as we are applying what we already know to make sense of new information. It is important to to undertake this with an open mind so we are open to all possibilities and not make concrete judgements that may close our minds when observing in the future. Whilst we can never be purely objective, we need to be mindful of how our own world view can lead us to being too subjective.

This process of observation and reflection enables a dynamic connection with the child, allowing for deep insights into their developmental needs and how they learn.

The second edition of An Observers Notebook by Paul Epstein can be found through some Montessori book sellers. If you have not read it I recommend doing so.

Freedom of Choice

Freedom of choice does not equate to not doing work in a Montessori classroom. Freedom of choice means the child is able to choose their work freely- all the time. For the child who has not yet fully developed their independence in this regard we may need to negotiate work plans or scaffold their choice making through visual aids or work folders, where the child can choose from a smaller selection of work. Ultimately, though, we should be looking for the cause of ongoing unproductive periods of the child, as there will be something in their environment that is preventing the child from pursuing meaningful work.

Montessorikiwi recently wrote this post, which you may find interesting as well -
Doing Nothing All Day

Follow the Child

Often an over-used phrase in Montessori, but still an important concept none the less. It is also often misunderstood. To follow the child we observe and recognise the needs of the child for development, align them to their interests and readiness for certain concepts to either drive, or integrate into, their learning. If a child is not ready for a lesson, there is little point forcing the issue. That is not to say we give up or never present it, rather we observe and reflect on why this may be the case. Perhaps they need to redo a previous lesson, perhaps we need to adjust the prepared environment, it could be that we need to think of a different way of presenting that concept or lesson that suits the child.

The Decalogue is nicely unpacked in this article.

Looking for something more specific? You may be interested in taking a look at the new Boot Camp series on offer at Montessorikiwi, click HERE to learn more.

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