In the realm of education, there exists a powerful force that often goes unnoticed, overshadowed by curriculum and methodology. This force is none other than the art of observation.

It is through the keen, non-judgmental, and scientific observation of the child that the Montessori method, as we recognise it today, emerged from its early, conventional cocoon.

When we trace the origins of the Montessori method back to its beginning, we find a surprising resemblance to traditional schools. There were desks for teachers, and instructional materials were securely locked away, only to be dispensed at the teacher’s discretion. So, how did this seemingly ordinary start evolve into the revolutionary Montessori approach we know today? The answer lies in the instrument of observation.

From the traditional to the non-conventional

Dr. Maria Montessori’s ability to perceive the child’s true nature and subsequently adapt the learning environment hinged on her gift of observation. She saw what others could not see, because she observed with an uncluttered mind, devoid of judgment, interruptions, or interference. Her approach was akin to that of a scientist, objectively studying the child’s behaviour.

The truth is that doing this is very difficult. It necessitates the suspension of judgment, the quieting of any urge to intervene, and the cultivation of a detached, scientific perspective. Only through such observation can we uncover the child’s innermost expressions, discern their genuine needs and interests, and then provide an environment that aligns with their development.

Too often, adults approach interactions with children convinced they possess all the answers, guided by preconceived notions and hearsay. To establish a fruitful relationship with our children, we must abandon this mindset and adopt a more genuine perspective: we do not shape the child; rather, the child, driven by his own efforts and interests, constructs himself.

As explained by Maria Montessori, every child possesses an inner teacher, directing them toward activities and experiences that foster growth. We do not teach the child to walk, talk, or think; the child, step by step, builds his own mind and abilities.

Therefore, we are not builders but assistants in this profound process—providing a strong yet unobtrusive support, responsible for furnishing the child with a suitable, secure, and stimulating environment along with opportunities for exploration. The essential work that adults must undertake begins with humility—a release of the desire to shape and the preconceptions that urge us to constantly intervene, potentially obstructing the child’s development irreparably.

Observation is key

At Montessori House Brussels, our dedicated educators passionately embrace the art of observation to craft an enriching and uninterrupted learning journey for every child. Throughout the day, they vigilantly watch over the children as they engage in their everyday tasks. However, they don’t stop there; our educators seize those precious moments when the children are fully engrossed in their activities to meticulously observe the entire class. They allow the classroom to be as if the teachers weren’t present – the teacher remains seated in a corner, savouring this wonder, where a child’s concentration transcends all educational barriers.

When we take a step back, we discover a new child, one who is attentive, focused, and self-capable. Simultaneously, we learn more about ourselves. Observation is an art that matures with practice, inviting a spectrum of thoughts, emotions, and sentiments. It offers profound insight and revelation, not only into the child’s world but also into our own.

To provide parents with a comprehensive understanding of our classroom routines and the authentic Montessori experience, we extend an invitation to them to observe a class other than their child’s. In doing so, parents foster a deeper insight into our holistic educational philosophy and ensure that their child can fully immerse themselves in their activities without interruptions. This approach prevents parents from exclusively focusing on their own child’s activities.

Parenting, as we discover, is an intricate gift, one that grants us the opportunity to cultivate our understanding, patience, and compassion through the practice of observation. By embracing this art, we unlock the transformative power of the Montessori Method, allowing both our children and ourselves to flourish in ways we might never have imagined.