“When dealing with children there is greater need for observing than of questioning.” – Maria Montessori
Observation is one of the Montessori teacher’s greatest tools, and one of the keystones of this approach to education. It has many levels of application. It can become a life-long tool to help us evolve, as parents, as teachers, and as human beings.
A teacher observes the class as a whole many times throughout the day, in a scanning, all-inclusive way. She watches for the flow of traffic, groupings of children, places where movement may be inhibited, and difficult interactions among children. A teacher also carefully observes the work of individual children, as they manifest themselves one by one: what material is he using, how is he using it, is he concentrating, should the teacher or assistant step in to help, is the child ready for the next step and challenge? He or she uses this observed information to plan lessons, to bring out new materials or to vary an existing activity, and to approach the child in a fresh way at a different time. Observation can be inspiring and energizing.
Parent Observation Guidelines
The teachers are happy to have observers in their classrooms. In order to help keep the classroom situation as natural as possible during your visit, we would like to recommend the following:
- When you enter the classroom, you will be given a seat. We encourage you to observe from this vantage point, rather than standing or walking about the classroom. It is important for your presence to be as unobtrusive as possible.
- The Montessori classroom is one that is active and invites participation; however, we ask that you please refrain from conversation. There are occasions when a child will approach an observer. If this happens during your visit, please answer the child naturally, but briefly.
- To help children feel comfortable while you are there, please watch the activities that are further away from you rather than directly in front of you. While we encourage your interest and questions about the Montessori materials and approaches, it is better for the children that individual work projects are not questioned and classroom materials are left on the shelves.
- Should you have any questions, please write them down. We will be happy to answer them in your meeting with the head of school and the director of admissions.