Monday, March 14, 2011

Montessori Students and Sensitive Periods: Working at the Child's Pace

NAMC montessori students sensitive periods working at the child's pace landforms

I have a very amusing story to share, and I must admit it is the result of me not following a child’s lead. I have a wonderful, spirited little boy in my class this year who just turned three years old, and he definitely keeps me on my toes. He is so full of life, and keen to try everything and anything.

For the past couple of weeks, this enthusiastic young Montessori student has been asking to use the Montessori Land and Water forms. Each time, I have redirected him to another activity, explaining that he hasn't yet had a lesson with them, and letting him know that he will have the chance to work with them one day soon. He asked me again this morning, and I gave him the same response.

Working at the Child's Pace: Montessori Students and Sensitive Periods

Part way through the morning, a little girl frantically approached me to tell me what this boy was doing and I couldn't believe it. I walked over to where he was working and “Monty”, our classroom fish, was having a wonderful time … swimming around the island of one of our Land and Water forms! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He had taken out the landform that represents ‘the island,’ and placed it on a table right beside Monty the fish. He then proceeded to pour some water (as well as the fish) into the landform.

He had obviously poured the water and the fish ever so carefully, as there were no spills at all on the floor or table … I suppose all of the pouring works that he enjoys have paid off! It was definitely an adventure for Monty and a lesson for me — I may have made more of an effort to follow my student’s interest in working with the land and water forms!

This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Child’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that have arisen from one real student's Montessori journey.

Bree — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

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 Monday, March 14, 2011.


  1. This made me laugh! What a great story. I'm sure he keeps things interesting!!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Shelley and yes, it is definitely a funny story! The little guy I was referring to in my post is so much fun to teach, and is always up to something.....never a dull moment!!!

  3. Don't leave me in suspense! What happened next? How does a wonderful Montessori guide work her way thought that one?
    Thanks for the story!

  4. Hi Leslie,

    In response to your question, I took a deep breath and very calmly said to the little boy, "Jacob, it is really important that we never move Monty's fish bowl and it is even more important that we never take Monty out of his fishbowl. For Monty to stay safe and healthy, he needs to say in the water in his fishbowl, so first, we need to put him back where he belongs. Of course, I had 20 little pairs of eyes watching and listening, so the pressure was on. I carefully placed Monty back in his fishbowl, placed the fishbowl back on the stand and said, "there, now Monty feels safe and healthy again." I then reminded Jacob that it isn't o.k. to do a work that he hasn't yet had a lesson with and I asked him if he would like me to give him a lesson with the land and water forms. He was so excited to finally get the lesson that he had been waiting for and followed through with the activity in the exact way it was presented. He also checked on Monty several times throughout the day and gave me an update as to how he thought Monty was feeling. Fortunately, Monty survived his big adventure and Jacob is now happily working with the land and water forms on a daily basis. I'm glad you enjoyed the story and as I said, it was definitely a first for me!!

  5. Isn't it funny how calm we can become, when you don't have time to panic!


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