Control the urge to intervene

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Observe how carefully this 22-month old child is trying to string beads together.

Of all our many responsibilities towards children in school, perhaps the greatest one is to develop and protect their sense of concentration. Very often, this is achieved by controlling our adult urge to interfere in their work, and allowing them to correct their own mistakes.

While this is easy to say, it is very hard to do even for trained and experienced Montessori teachers. We have to keep reminding ourselves that struggle is good, that the young child learns best when struggle leads to discovery.

To help foster the child's concentration and independence, Dr Maria Montessori had her own advice for teachers (and parents!):

"I suggested to some teachers that they should wear a belt with beads attached. Then every time they have an impulse to interfere, they would draw a bead along. This is very useful, because when we have an impulse, we must act, and the reaction with the bead is a help. From day to day, one would make observations upon oneself in this way until one came to the point of not having to draw any more beads. We should then find that we had acquired a great calm and sense of repose. Perhaps we should have become transformed within. At any rate, we should have learnt the following: that almost all these impulses to action are unnecessary."