Monday, April 30, 2012

Montessori A to Z: U is for Understanding

To be effective as a guide for these young children, you have to have an understanding of them. A lot of this is going to be an innate ability to "speak the language" of young children. Some people simply do not have this ability. You also have to know a lot about them. Read as much as you can get your hands on about child development and the variety of special needs that tend to pop up in your classroom. Educate yourself so that you can understand what is potentially happening with the children.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. I know a lot, but I will never know it all. I rely on the various therapists who come in for my children to offer me insights into children's behavior and issues. I speak to other professionals online and compare notes with other teachers. I ask my colleagues to observe a child because perhaps they can see something that I cannot. Also communicate with the parents. Sometimes there are situations at home that can offer insight into a child. Perhaps a behavior you see at school does not happen at home and vice versa. Work together to create a full picture of the child.

Observation is another key part of understanding the children. You have to watch what they are doing, how they are interacting with each other and their environment. Remember your ABC - Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence. When a child exhibits a particular behavior, what was going on right before it? What was the actual behavior? What were the consequences of that behavior? Use that information to help you understand the behavior and to change it in the future.

Always try to put yourself into the child's shoes. How would you feel in that situation? We always feel the need to hug and love on kids, for example. Do you like it when people randomly grab you and hug you? Would you want someone lifting you up to look out the window? Probably not. How do you feel when someone comes over and starts to play with your work? Understanding children also includes respecting them and their personal space. The more you respect children and understand them, the better your relationship with them will be. And the more you will be able to help them to grow and develop.

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