Thursday, 29 January 2015

Montessori: The silence game

It can be difficult for young children to find a moment of peace during a busy day. Especially so when they attend nursery or school. Even when it's so obvious that that's what they need, they are often so caught up in what's going on around them that they can't step back for a bit of peace.
I'm a part time teacher in a Montessori nursery and I have been giving the children this chance to have just a few quiet minutes. They love it so much that they have started asking for it well before the time comes.
We have our little ritual now. After lunch, they sit down opposite me, usually quite agitated as it is a transition time; some children are about to go home while others will arrive soon for the afternoon session.
I ask them what we CAN'T do when we play the Silence Game. This gives them an opportunity for a last burst of energy. They stomp to show me that you can't stomp, they tap their feet, clap their hands, shuffle on their chairs...
Then, I say those magic words: "ok everybody, feet on the floor, hands on your lap, relax your shoulders, deep breath... and here we go"

I slowly and quietly count to 10 while most children try hard not to make a sound (it's hard work for the children who are younger than 3).

After I have reached 10, I whisper each child's name in turn. They know it's time to go choose a book to read while we wait for their parents to collect them.

A moment's mindfulness that brings so much to little souls: regained focus, energy, better impulse control, respect for others, mind/body balance...

I believe all children need a bit of this everyday.

Do your children get daily down time?


  1. Yes! I completely agree with you. Children need peace and quiet. Sixtine's Montessori school does quiet time after lunch as well. I meant to ask - is there a reason why Montessori schools don't allow naps? It was a big adjustment for Sixtine, and to this day, she still falls asleep in the car as soon as she is picked up!

    1. Hi Deb,
      I used to work in a Montessori school that did have napping facilities, so it's not a Montessori thing. I would say it is rather something to do with legal requirements of having all children in full view at all times. Napping facilities often involve having a separate room and if you have children in a separate room, you need a member of staff in there too at all times (and the money to pay them), even if it is for just one child. The Montessori school where I used to work was set up in a large, long hall, with mattresses at one far end of it. They were not in a separate room, so they didn't need additional staff members to supervise.
      Finn doesn't come to school with me, and the reason is that he needs a nap in the afternoon....


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