Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nurturing Concentration in the Montessori Child: Observation, Respect, and Model Behavior

NAMC montessori education nurturing concentration in child respect observation modeling behavior using flag puzzle
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that one of the best gifts we can give children is an environment that enables them to develop their ability to concentrate. In fact, one of the aims of the Montessori Practical Life Activities is to develop strong concentration skills.

A child who is interested in the work she is doing will have an easier time concentrating. It is the job of the Montessori teacher and parent to arouse the interest of the child. As mentioned in Part 1 of this two-part series, a young child’s interest and attention level is at best, delicate; the world has so many distractions. As a result of these distractions, a young child may show seemingly little interest in one activity, and be incapable of remaining on one task for very long, choosing to move quickly from one activity to another.

To help such development, it is not enough to provide objects chosen at random, but we [teachers] have to organize a world of 'progressive interest' (Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 206).

How, then, can we help to arouse and sustain the interest of the young child? Montessori realized that we cannot force interest or concentration onto the child. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the adult to look for the child to guide us. Here are some suggestions to consider:

Nurturing Concentration in the Montessori Child: Observation, Respect, and Model Behavior

Make Observations – By observing the child, you will notice which activities she stays with. Using directive praise (rather than evaluative), let her know you are pleased that she completed a task. Instead of “What a good girl to finish washing the table.”, try “I appreciate how clean the table is. Now we will be able to eat lunch at it”.

Offer Choices – Now that you’ve observed her preferences, let her choose activities she prefers. “I see that you like pouring. Would you like to pour grain or water today?”

Model Concentration – Children are watching you all the time. By exaggerating your own movements and efforts at concentration, children will understand that this is a task to be taken seriously.

Encourage Repetition – When your child completes a task, suggest she try again. “I appreciate the way you worked on that puzzle. Would you like to do it again?”

Respect the Child’s Work – Just as adults need to concentrate on tasks and work, so do children. Refrain from interrupting a child who is absorbed in a task. Interrupting her concentration is disrespectful.
NAMC montessori education nurturing concentration in child respect observation modeling behavior using sandpaper
Concentration is crucial to learning. We need to provide activities which engage a child so that she reaches a deep level of intense concentration sustainable over an extended period of time. As the ability to concentrate develops, the child will learn to persevere and move on to greater, more complex concepts and tasks.

For more ideas on activities to promote and develop concentration:
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 Thursday, August 13, 2009.


  1. Does Dr. Maria have any guidelines on when concentration development is the most critical? For example my baby is 11 months now. how much concentration is he capable of?


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