At home and at school, the simple fact of using Montessori materials is not enough for the child’s success. It is especially the posture of the Montessori educator which is extremely important for the proper implementation of the pedagogy. It is you as a parent-educator or teacher who will have to guide the child, your role is really essential. But what exactly is the posture of the Montessori educator? Should children be helped? Should we intervene in the event of an error? So many questions that Maria Montessori wanted to answer by writing a document composed of 10 fundamental rules. It is a text that one could call the 10 commandments of the Montessori educatorin other words an indispensable guide!
1 – Do not touch the child
First, although this rule may seem strange, you must not touch the child unless he invites you to do so. Don’t panic, this has nothing to do with avoiding inappropriate behavior. The idea behind this rule is that the child must be seen as a whole person. As with an adult, we won’t help him position himself better in his chair and we won’t push him behind his back to direct him to a workshop.
There is therefore no question either of taking the child’s hand to guide it, whether for writing or handling during practical life workshops, for example. In short, we do not do the gestures for him.
On the other hand, if a child needs to be reassured, cuddled, or simply asks to be guided with the hands, then contact is essential.
2 – The Montessori educator must not speak ill of the child in front of him or in his absence
Montessori educators, parents or teachers, are above all human beings, let’s not forget that. So yes sometimes, out of fatigue or annoyance, we sometimes let out unhappy words about children.
Do not speak ill of the child in front of him or in his absence is therefore a demanding rule, it must be admitted. But you certainly know that the words heard in our childhood can remain etched in our memory forever. Sometimes they are even more hurtful than certain gestures. This is why you must set an example on this point and avoid any overt negative reflection or criticism with regard to children.
3 – Reinforce the positive rather than pointing out the negative
To move in the same direction, it is essential to always reinforce the positive and the progress rather than pointing out the negative. The objective is for the child to gain self-confidence and continue his efforts instead of saying to himself: “I suck, I’ll never make it, it’s not for me, etc.” “. Even if he has difficulties, you must always keep a positive state of mind and note progress. Be careful, do not marvel at each success, stay factual about improvements and achievements. To complete your monitoring of the child, also write down his points of difficulty in order to be able to come back to them at another time with him.
4 – Prepare the Montessori environment
As indicated in the introduction, Montessori material is not sufficient on its own. Your child can have all the Montessori workshops available, if the layout of the activity room is lacking, lacks logic and accessibility, it will not work. Thus, as a Montessori educator, you must imperatively prepare the environment. In concrete terms, at each work session, the child must have a ordered material in a logical and clear way, with all the necessary accessories. He must be able find one’s way easily and put everything away without your help.
5 – The Montessori educator must guide the child and introduce him to the material in the prepared environment
This rule speaks for itself: you must show the child where the equipment is stored and how to use it by making workshop presentations. It’s simple, once you have taken care to prepare a Montessori environment, you must explain the logic to the child and help him to move there in turn.
6 – Be available and listen to the child who asks for help
This may seem obvious, but it takes as much as possible make yourself available to help a child who asks for it. Except that when you have several children to manage, it becomes quite difficult. Establish a simple rule: do not disturb an adult busy with a child. If you need help, you put your hand on the adult’s shoulder and wait for him to be available to help. This will avoid scattering you between the different requests!
7 – Respect the child who attempts self-correction in his Montessori workshop and intervene in the event of a violent gesture
Montessori workshops are designed to be self-correcting. The child should therefore be able to judge for himself his success or his mistakes. Respect that, even if it means taking notes and coming back to them later with him. On the other hand, you must immediately stop any misuse of the equipment and any endangerment of the child or of others. Verbal or physical, violence is never tolerated in Montessori.
8 – Respect children who are resting or observing and guide those who are looking for an activity
Respect children who observe the activity of others can be difficult when you are used to the classic system. It seems that the children do nothing, while observing the strategies of an older child can contribute to future success. When it comes to rest, the question is to meet the physiological needs of children. Conversely, you must intervene to guide and help those looking for an activity in the Montessori environment without being able to decide.
9 – Withdraw from busy children and invite others to the activity
As with observant children, you must refrain from intervening with active ones, even if they make mistakes. Whatever happens, if they remain absorbed in their workshop, just observe and take the opportunity to take notes. It is best to come back to the activity with them later to show them other strategies or to explain again if necessary. The child must perceive your benevolence and your availability in case of need and not feel judged.
On the other hand, it is not a question of letting children wander aimlessly in the Montessori environment. A child who does not rest, does not observe and refuses any workshop tends towards idleness, which we want to avoid! feel free to present a workshop again and again, even if refused. If an activity does not interest the child, perhaps it will attract him a few days, weeks or months later. It is therefore important to continue to insist on activation.
10 – Respond to the 10 commandments of the Montessori educator by giving the best of oneself for the child
Finally, to close these 10 commandments of the Montessori educator, we invite you to always try to offer the best of yourself to the child. This is a difficult point, because it requires being always attentive, helping and available despite fatigue and other inconveniences of daily life… In short, being a Montessori educator requires courage and perseverance, but you can get there !