The Montessori Prepared Environment integrates a wide range of concepts that promote optimum holistic development in children.
When thinking of a child-led or auto-didactic educational environment one may presume a Montessori Classroom to be chaotic and full of chattering children.
But, this misconception is far from true, along with controlled freedom, children are also able to develop the self-discipline to perform tasks that require prolonged periods of focus.
For the first few hours during an Uninterrupted Montessori Work Cycle, children often perform tasks with great attention and focus.
With unique concepts and Montessori Principles such as Prepared Environment, Absorbent Mind, or Sensitive Periods, children in a Montessori School are encouraged to achieve higher levels of academic, cognitive, physical, social, and emotional attainments.
According to Dr. Maria Montessori, each child passes through the stage of Normalization where they are capable of working alone or in groups, concerning their surrounding environment.
Another interconnected concept with Normalization in Montessori is the concept of “Mindfulness”, a term coined by Dr. Maria Montessori to describe periods of sustained focus, practical work, and sensorial learning experience.
As an already established element in the Montessori Environment, Mindfulness allows children to autonomously explore their surroundings.
If you are a parent, educator, or an immediate caregiver who wants to incorporate the concept of Mindfulness into your child’s environment, keep reading.
What is Mindfulness in Montessori Exactly?
Mindfulness is a term described by the Cambridge Dictionary as
“the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm.”
According to the founder of the Mindfulness Stress Reduction Program, Kabat Zinn, the term mindfulness refers to
“paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally”
In simpler terms, mindfulness can be defined as a state of mind or ability to concentrate and focus on an activity or task that is taking place at present.
A lack of distractions when performing such tasks with prolonged periods of focus is the main feature of Mindfulness in Montessori.
In a Montessori classroom, children are taught how to develop the ability to Mindfulness by building their emotional intelligence and their capability to identify their changes in reaction.
What are the benefits of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness in Montessori is a tool that educators use to effectively facilitate lessons in the classroom.
Mindfulness can be regarded as a form of meditation that allows children to develop skills to perform tasks with prolonged periods of focus and become fully aware of their senses.
Mindfulness promotes the development of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development.
Practicing Mindfulness promotes the development of analytical thinking, critical thinking, conflict resolution, interpretation, and synthesizing information.
Children can internalize the values of mindfulness and become aware of their feelings, predict their reactions, and alter their responses.
Mindfulness in Montessori is integral for the social and emotional development of the child.
Here is a list of benefits of Mindfulness in a Montessori Classroom:
- Helps improve the child’s sleep cycle
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and frustration in children
- Reduces Muscle Tension
- Promotes inner peace
- Helps children develop patience and empathy
- Helps children perform tasks requiring prolonged periods of focus and concentration
- Lowers the heart rate and blood pressure
How is Mindfulness taught in Montessori Classroom?
The idea of Mindfulness in a Montessori Prepared Environment is consistent and coherent with other Montessori Principles.
In a Montessori Classroom, mindfulness is taught by incorporating requisite elements to enhance the ability to concentrate.
During the initial stages, children are introduced to self-care and hygiene activities to develop mindfulness.
Concepts of the Practical Life Curriculum such as Grace and Courtesy activities and practicing self-regulating behavior help develop Mindfulness.
Lessons on Grace and Courtesy allow children to develop empathy, kindness, respect, and discipline, it also promotes social development in children.
Another way of developing the ability to mindfulness is by eliminating stressors and unnecessary stimuli from the environment.
Teachers when establishing such principles should be far from bothersome stressors such as fatigue, dehydration, restlessness, and anger to facilitate a healthy learning environment.
To get rid of the bothersome elements teachers must be patient and consume a tall glass of water during times of stress.
Lastly, the Montessori Uninterrupted Work cycle facilitates the development of Mindfulness in children by allowing them to indulge in activities for a prolonged period.
The three-hour uninterrupted work cycle, promotes the child to perform the activity of their choice, work at their own pace, and track their progress.
How to reinforce Mindfulness in a Montessori Home Environment?
Stress is an everyday issue that most of us experience in our day-to-day lives. Practicing healthy methods of stress elimination and calming technique can help reduce stress in children.
To efficiently facilitate the development of Mindfulness in children at home, parents must create a safe educational sanctuary for their children.
Replacement of rigid schedules to lose and a flexible environment can also help eliminate stressors at home.
Here are some specific guidelines parents must follow when reinforcing mindfulness in the child’s home environment.
1. Asking Questions:
Parents must ensure to ask questions to help the child deal with their stress, frustrations, and anger in a healthy way.
By alleviating parental stress or anxiety, children are able to establish new and healthy relationships.
These questions also help children develop skills that help them deal with conflicts in a healthy way.
2. Natural Consequences:
Do not force consequences or punishment when reinforcing Mindfulness, instead allow the child to comprehend natural consequences.
By providing them with a chance to develop an understanding of natural consequences, children are able to develop discipline from within.
3. Set an Example
As a parent, you are constantly setting examples of behaviors that are to be portrayed during certain circumstances.
When facing adverse situations, parents must portray healthy behavior for the child to observe.
By portraying healthy behavior or strategies to deal with stressful circumstances parents allow children to observe and apply the same strategies in their lives.