Maria Montessori believed that observing without judgement is the truest way we ‘follow the child.’ As an observing parent you are seeking to understand fact in objective form and language. You are aiming for some impartiality where you take responsibility but neither guilt nor glory. These are difficult habits to break since we naturally seek to defend ourselves and celebrate the latest triumphs of our young.
Why we observe?
- View skills in detail g. speech and language, gross and fine motor movements
- See when there are changes in behaviour e.g. struggling with emotions, toileting, mealtimes
- Reminder to see a child for who they are and not who we want them to be
- Respond rather than react and make hasty assessments
What we can observe?
- What your child is interested in
- Which skills your is child working on
- How your child is challenged
- Does the environment meet your child's needs
- Is there anything (including yourself) obstructing your child's development
How do we observe?
Observation can be simple and natural.
It can last for as long as you are able to not make yourself known to your child. If you are able to observe over a period of a few days you may see patterns of events leading up to certain behaviours e.g. biting, big emotions.
Quietly watching. It is not observation if you are directing the activity. Try sitting on your hands if you find it difficult not to intervene.
Use an observation log/photo/video. Aim to observe a full cycle of activity beginning with choosing an activity, exploring an activity and returning the activity. This maintains focus and you will create a wonderful record of your child’s development.
Let your child take the lead.
Remember the small things are the big things for a child and often their own discoveries offer an inspiring window into their world.
What are the next steps?
After collecting all this rich information what comes after?
As a parent ask yourself from your observation, what would be the one change you could make to further support your child?
Sometimes there are no changes needed. It is simply recognizing that your child is exactly where they need to be and how fortunate you are to know them that little bit more.