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3 min read

Montessori is all about "following the child".You'll hear it on repeat from any Montessorian. It makes perfect sense. Follow the child's interests to make learning easier, more fun, and child-driven.BUT simply saying "Follow The Child" is missing a big piece of the puzzle.The observation!

Observation is one of the most important tools that Montessori teachers use in their work with children. They spend hundreds of hours simply observing in the classroom.Why?Because it helps them to create an ideal learning environment and individualized curriculum for each child.While you certainly shouldn't strive for perfection at home, there are 4 good reasons to observe your child in the home environment:

  1. Use observation to prepare the spaces your child spends time in. Materials should be chosen based on your child's interests and the skills they're currently working to build. The best way to figure out this info is the spend some time watching them move about in their play space.
  2. Observation is also really beneficial in getting to know your child. Another way of looking at observation is that you’re taking time to see the world through the eyes of your child. Being "seen" is incredibly validating, it helps children to develop their sense of belonging.
  3. Observation gives your children the time and space they need to learn and problem solve. It forces us to step back and sit on our hands.
  4. It helps you to find the perfect gift! This is why we ask in the store "what is the child interested in?" when someone’s looking for a gift recommendation. Don't worry about researching the most popular new toys, simply look to your child to find out their interests.

What should you be observing?

Observation allows you to learn:

  • What they're interested in/what skills they're currently trying to master (i.e. fine motor, gross motor, pincer grasp, sorting, counting, etc.)
  • Where they are developmentally.
  • What toys materials they’ve already mastered and which ones still needs some work. Notice if some toys/materials are not being played with at all anymore. That's a good sign that it's time to put them away.

Here's What You Can Do With This Info...

Once you've spent some time observing your child, you can use that information to tailor their play space to meet their current needs.

Here's What You Can Do With This Info...

Once you've spent some time observing your child, you can use that information to tailor their play space to meet their current needs.

Here are some ideas:

  • Do they need to move? If so, remove all obstructions and make space for them to move. Introduce toys that invite them to move like balls, cylinder rattles, etc.
  • Are they showing a preference for activities where they use their hands? Put out activities where they use their hands and can repeat movements like puzzles, transfer activities, etc.
  • Are they showing an interest in music? Add an instrument or two to their toy shelf.
  • Are they exploring everything with their mouth? Put out toys and other materials (yes, this could include kitchen materials or other items from around the home) that are safe to explore with the mouth.
  • Are they showing a preference for real-life objects over toys? Put out a basket with child-sized practical life tools.

It's important to keep in mind that infants and toddlers develop quite quickly.

They’re constantly changing and growing. Observation allows you to adapt the environment as needed.

No need to rotate toys or materials on a set schedule. Ideally it’s done after observing your child and seeing what toys they are no longer interested in. Once your child gets everything they need out of an activity, they’ll move on to something else.