Friday, May 18, 2012

What is Mindfulness? Montessori Perspectives

Montessori Perspectives on Mindfulness - Part 3 of 3

children walking line NAMC montessori perspectives on what is mindfulnessAnother term that goes along with Montessori’s idea of normalization and the current idea of executive function is that of ‘mindfulness’. Psychology Today states that “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you are mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

The Montessori method of education is consistent with the idea of mindfulness. The flow of the individual presentations requires the attention of the child and the adult to be focused on the immediate present. The built-in control of error in the Montessori materials and activities consistently bring the child’s focus back to center. The three-hour Montessori work cycle supports the development of increased periods of focused concentration.

Being mindful requires the child to be fully aware sensorially. The Montessori sensorial lessons and activities serve to isolate each sense so that it might be fully explored and internalized by the child. The terms ‘rough’ and ‘smooth’ or ‘sweet’ and ‘sour’ take on different meaning in the Montessori environment as the child explores and makes fine distinctions in gradations of sensorial exercises. (Lillard)

Beyond the immediate preparation of executive function, Montessori education is preparing the child not just for school, but also for life. Exercises such as ‘The Silence Game’ and ‘Walking on the Line’ help the child to focus his thoughts inward and be aware of his body within the space of his environment. It helps the child become fully conscious of his surroundings. This consciousness of self and others develops into Montessori’s lessons of Grace and Courtesy. Through modeling and proactive guidance, children become mindful of how their actions directly affect those around them. (Lillard) In fact, “Every exercise involving movement where mistakes can be corrected…is of great assistance to a child…Our children become agile by learning how to walk around various objects without bumping into them.” (Montessori)

Walking on the line also teaches purposeful movement, not unlike the practice of Yoga or Tai Chi. In fact, many Montessori classrooms incorporate either yoga or Tai Chi into their daily routines. The simple movements of both practices incorporate the ideas of self-monitoring and planning. The focus is on the behavior of the individual and comparisons are only made to the movement towards a goal, not to the achievements of others. Through repetition of movement, improvement is made. These same statements about non-judgmental behavior and repetition can said about the Montessori environment, exercises, and materials.

Those who are interested in incorporating mindfulness into their teaching practices would be well served by considering those practices found within the Montessori environment. (Lillard) Meaningful, conscious work that incorporates both mind and body with increased periods of profound concentration provide a child with a grounding that prepares him well beyond the classroom walls and sets him on his way to a purposeful and fulfilled life.

Works Cited

Lillard, Angeline S. "Mindfulness Practices in Education: Montessori's Approach." Mindfulness 2.2 (2011). Web document. 9 May 2012.

Montessori, Maria. The Secret of Childhood. New York: Ballentine, 1966.

Psychology Today. Psychology Today. n.d. Website. 9 May 2012.

Related NAMC blogs:
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, May 18, 2012.


Post a Comment

Have questions or comments? Let us know what you thought about this article!

We appreciate feedback and love to discuss with our readers further.

NAMC Blog Inquiries Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Search the NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog

Are you interested in reading back through NAMC's blog articles from years gone by, or for more information on a specific topic?

Browse a select list of our most popular categories below; by clicking on one, you will see every article posted under that topic since 2007. You may also use the lower archive menu to select a year and month, displaying all blog posts in the chosen time frame.

If you are seeking a range of information on a certain topic or idea, try this search box for site-wide keyword results.

Choose From a List of Popular Article Topics

NAMC Montessori Series

Montessori Philosophy and Methodology

Montessori Classroom Management

The School Year

Montessori Materials

Montessori Curriculum

Montessori Infant/Toddler (0–3) Program

Montessori Early Childhood (3–6) Program

Montessori Elementary (6–12) Programs

What is Montessori?

Search Archives for Montessori Blog Posts by Date

Thank you to the NAMC Montessori community!

This year marks NAMC’s 20th anniversary of providing quality Montessori distance training and curriculum development to Montessorians around the globe. Since we began in 1996, we have grown to build a fantastic community of students, graduates, and schools in over 120 countries. We are grateful for your continued support and dedication to furthering the reach and success of the Montessori method. Thank you for sharing this amazing milestone with us!