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Sunday, May 25, 2014

How Montessori method helps a child to increase his attention span

Every teacher of play school and parent assumes that a child will always be active, dancing and moving. Infact some parents also believe that more the child is noisy, more the intelligent she is. But every teacher knows that learning cannot happen until the child sits still and can focus on something for a reasonable period of time. Not just psychologists, every parent also knows this. So it is surprising that only Montessori method has definite methods to increase the attention span of a child.

Montessori does this impossible-looking feat through some innovative 4 design elements of kits, methodology, and use of child psychology. 

1. Montessori Kits are designed to fulfill the innate need of sensitive period. 

This helps the child to do what he most needs. Initially a child takes up EPL activities like pouring water, buttoning, and other activities that makes him independent. Later, the child takes up sensorial activities that uses his senses of sound, taste and touch. No activity is introduced to child until she is ready. For instance, child is introduced to writing only when his readiness is 'measured and identified' by drawing Geometrical insets. Therefore child loves to perform activities because it fulfills his innate need. 

2. In each kit, multiple activities are designed with increasing complexity to prevent onset of boredom . 

If the activities are not challenging, the child leaves the material immediately. That is why children rarely play with toys. In Montessori, multiple activities in  a single kit are designed with increasing challenge. For instance, in a cylinder block, almost 120+ activities can be performed which are increasingly difficult. Because the activities are challenging, the child does not feel bored and remains engaged with the same kit. A child is able to maintain his attention for a longer time. 

3. A child's internal drive is invoked by offering him the full freedom . 

A child has a freedom to perform anything in a Montessori. He can eat at any time, play if he is bored, or just still and do nothing. He also has a choice to repeat an activity n number of times. Her wishes are respected in the Montessori fully. This makes a child feel that he or she can do anything in the Montessori. Because the child realises that he/she need not 'manipulate' anyone to do anything, he is in command. This calms him from inside. This helps him perform the activities without any compulsion for a long time. He is driven by his internal force, rather than by any external pressure of approval from the teacher. 

 4. A child's motivation is kept intact by avoiding the pointing of mistakes as well as praise.

When a child's mistakes are pointed, even though with good intention, he/she is embarrassed and avoids situations and challenges that leads him to make mistakes. In a Montessori, the material kits are self corrective. This enables the child to correct his own errors himself. On the other hand teachers are also trained not to point mistakes. This helps the child to avoid the embarrassment of failing. On the other hand teachers do not even praise. Because there is no praise for doing anything right, the child also does not chose easy activities to get approval. Child therefore performs an activity because of his internal motivation in this scenario.

Consequences of the above four factors: Initially when the child starts with Montessori the child barely sits still. But slowly and surely, helped by the factors  3 and 4 ( freedom and acceptance of mistakes policy), the child manages to use the designed kits and concentrate for 15 minutes to half an hour by the end of first year in Montessori. When the child starts learning English language and arithmetic in the second year, her attention span continues to increase beyond an hour.

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