How do we experience love coming to us from another? Often people will say “this person truly sees me for who I am”. One of the most important ways to “see” another is through listening and giving the other the gift of feeling heard. We feel that this other person gets us, he “sees” us.
Maria Montessori believed this “seeing” was the starting point for the teacher if she is to truly love each child in her care. It is crucial as Montessori guides (teachers) that they have both a strong background in child development and observation skills. These are the tools that allow them to see each child. Montessori wrote, “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” Respect and love are made manifest to the child through the preparation, study, and observational skills of the adults in their lives.
Two year-old children intuitively feel this when they experience their teacher’s help and support in frustrating or sad moments. When teachers give them simple language to express their emotions, or rather than doing for them, show them a way to independently achieve their goal, the children feel respected and loved. These opportunities to guide two year-olds away from tantrums and towards fulfillment, happen over and over and are not always successful. However, with their teacher’s consistent responses and patience, the children grow and mature, and then comes the moment, as their teachers have shown them, when the children express their love to another child experiencing a frustrating or sad moment.
The example above comes from the Young Children’s Community, but at each level the basic skills and approach of the guides is the same. Maria Montessori described different planes of development. At each successive level from primary through adolescence, the guides are trained in the developmental needs and tendencies for the age group they are teaching.
Each child is unique and often children will need extra support at particular times in their development. Again, the guides use their observational skills and knowledge base to find ways to support each child to grow in an environment of respect and love.
More about the environment and how it can also be one of our greatest observational tools next time.