Concentration is the cornerstone of learning. Whether we are learning to tie our shoes, cooking in a MasterChef competition, or performing complex mathematical equations, there is a specific concentration required to
complete the task at hand.
Doctor Maria Montessori understood this power and designed her methodology to nurture the skill of concentration as a foundation for life. After all, a child who is interested in their work, will have an easier time concentrating and absorbing knowledge.
Within the Montessori classroom, the ability to concentrate is nurtured by providing children with the time and space to work without interruption. The Montessori work cycle provides children with almost unlimited time to complete a cycle of activity, and provides rich opportunities to maximise sensitive periods for learning.
Similarly, Montessori encourages students to reflect and consolidate their learnings through repetition and practice. In particular, practical life activities, which often take 10 – 15 minutes to complete, are designed to develop independence by improving coordination, and teaching children to follow steps in a sequence. All of these aid in building focus and concentration.
Developing Concentration at Home
To begin nurturing concentration, it is important to understand the needs of the child. Just as adults need time and space to concentrate, so too do our children. Respect your child’s need to discover things for themselves without the need to ‘fix’, praise, or interfere with their work.
In the Montessori environment, a child is rarely interrupted while focused on their work. In times when interruptions must prevail, it is ideal to let your child know ahead of time, to provide their work the respect it deserves. Your child’s ‘work’ is important.
Observe your child’s interests so that you are able to guide them in extending their concentration. For example, if your child enjoys pouring, provide them with a choice: “I see that you like pouring. Would you like to pour rice or water today?”
Our children observe every move we make. By exaggerating our own efforts when concentrating, we encourage our children to take the task of concentration seriously.
When your child completes an activity, encourage them to try again, or practice the skill they are developing with a different material. For example, if your child is working with a puzzle, encourage them to complete it again, or complete a different puzzle. This way they are exercising their ability to concentrate on problem solving.
Montessori classrooms are orderly and tidy with a place for everything. Create a Montessori space in your home where various activities are accessible to your child. Creating a sense of order will guide your child in their efforts to organise their thinking and develop the skill of concentration.
Our modern world is full of opportunities for overstimulation. From iPads, to extracurricular activities, our children are exposed to an overabundance of sensory stimulation. To create an effective learning
environment, it is important to create a peaceful space that is free is distraction, such as a quiet corner.
Adopting Montessori practices at home will provide continuity between home and school, and encourage your child to reach a deeper level of concentration over an extended period of time. This skill is crucial to teaching children to persevere, problem-solve, and move on to more complex concepts and tasks as a foundation for life-long learning.