23 October 2013

Giving Concentration Room to Grow

Despite being a 'stay-at-home' mom we spend surprisingly few days completely at home.  Usually we run errands or see friends, and there is our weekly trip to the library.  But today we stayed home.  All day.  It was a nice break from running around, but I also noticed how differently Cora's played today than on days when a trip to the store breaks up the morning.

Her favorite question these days is: "What can I do Mommy?"  She will ask it as soon as I get her down from breakfast.  Often it is when I'm making a meal and I'll try to direct her to play by herself.

Today, I barely heard it.  After getting dressed said she wanted to do buttons.  (One of her new fascinations.)  So we pulled out her sweater with big buttons.  She stood with the sweater resting on a chair and carefully pushed the three buttons through the buttonholes.  She proudly showed me what she had done, then promptly unbuttoned the sweater and started again.  Nearly twenty minutes later she was still buttoning.  Eventually she lost interest and the sweater sat on the couch until the evening when she again stood with the sweater and carefully buttoned and unbuttoned it many times over.

It reminded me of the time we dressed and undressed her baby doll 6 or 7 times in a row.  We carefully lined up each of the eight snaps and after the last one was snapped she pulled them all apart and asked to do it again.  And when Cora was finished, Baby still didn't have her jammies on.

Why?  Why do children do that?  Repetition.  Dr. Montessori said the hand teaches the mind.  All the ideas and philosophy floating around in my head becomes reality when I watch my daughter.  Repetition and concentration.  How do you build your child's concentration?  Don't interrupt them.  I'm not saying the child rules the roost.  But if they are engaged in an activity (especially by themselves) and it is not harming anyone or anything, there is no emergency and you aren't trying to get out the door to a doctors appointment - leave them alone.

When I was a newbie teacher I would walk around the classroom touching the children's shoulders, 'checking in', asking how they were doing.  I thought I was being a great teacher.  Finally I realized I was interrupting them.  The child who is working hard to count beads to find out how much 8 + 5 equals will be thrown off by a touch on the shoulder.  He will forget where he was, perhaps have to start counting all over again and could become frustrated.

How will a child learn to concentrate if we (the adult, parent or teacher in their life) don't allow them time to work uninterrupted?  Even by the video camera to capture the cuteness.

There is another confession: I have interrupted Cora because I wanted to save the adorable.  It wasn't on purpose.  I try to be discreet, but as soon as she realizes I'm there and sees the camera her concentration is broken.

Today was a good reminder.
To step back, to just watch, just listen as she 'reads' to her Baby, to let her be.

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