Friday, July 27, 2012

My Most Challenging Montessori Student - Socializing

older child helping younger boy most challenging montessori studentFrom Dale —

Students are challenging in different ways. As a point of interest, my top five most challenging students were all boys. And nature dealt each of them a very difficult hand to play. They are certainly the children I think about most today and I often wonder how they are doing.

If I interpret the word challenging to mean the Montessori student that caused me the greatest amount of personal angst, the one I thought about the most, and the one I worked the hardest to help — that student would be “Joe.” Three-year-old Joe could not sit still, he could not stop antagonizing other children, and he had difficulty following directions. Unfortunately, most of Joe’s social experiences ended on a negative note. And Joe did not have a friend.

Thoughts from Montessori teachers on socializing...

What was I to do with him? Well, to begin with, I redirected his behavior as often as necessary, and I held him accountable to the rules, just like the rest of the children. But I also gave him as much freedom as possible in the Montessori environment. As well, I made sure that Joe and I had many opportunities to work with the Montessori materials together, and I acknowledged his successes, no matter how small. Most important by far, I let Joe know that I was his friend. I communicated with Joe — telling him about myself, my weekend, and so on. And, just as importantly, I asked Joe about himself and his interests. The better Joe and I came to know one another, the harder Joe tried in the classroom.

Three years later at the children’s Montessori kindergarten graduation party, I watched Joe work cooperatively with the other children as they served food and drinks to parents and friends. I felt proud of Joe and I was happy for his parents, who had been so worried about Joe’s struggles.

Joe continued to struggle socially, but he always worked hard. And every year he got just a little bit better. I would like to think that my work with Joe contributed in part to his future successes. I can say with certainty that helping Joe with his challenges had a lasting impact on me and my work as a Montessori teacher.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, July 27, 2012.


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