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Implementing the Art of Mindfulness in a New Montessori Community

Recently featured in Montessori Schools and Centres Australia's July 2021 Newsletter 'Collaborations', Cycle 1 Montessori Teacher Yenny Henson has integrated mindfulness into the program at shared venture Grange Road Montessori.

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Melbourne Montessori School (MMS) and Headland Montessori Long Day Care began their collaborative partnership in January 2020. A collaboration eighteen months in the making and brought together through the vision of MMS Principal Gay Wales and Headland Montessori Managing Director Yan Wu. At its heart is the desire to provide families with a high quality, authentic Montessori program with all of the benefits of Long Day Care. Now in 2021 and the collaboration has moved into its purpose-built centre at Caulfield whilst also retaining the initial centre at St Kilda. Beginning a new centre under a new operating model of course presented challenges, add a global pandemic and it makes life very interesting. It did however serve to remind us of the beauty of the Montessori pedagogy and its ability to prepare us for life. Through this collaboration of an outstanding Montessori school (Melbourne Montessori School) and outstanding Early Childhood Provider (Headland Montessori Early Learning), let us be a strong Montessori community for all families.

Our Montessori environment provides opportunities for children to slow down and practise the art of ‘mindfulness’. ‘Walking the Line,’ ‘Yoga’ and ‘meditation,’ or playing the ‘Silence game’ are some examples of the activities in the Montessori classroom that help children learn to quiet their minds. We demonstrate through Grace and Courtesy lessons and our own personal actions to our children to be kind, patient, respectful, and to identify their emotions. Slowly, with time and practise, our children learn breathing skills; to self-reflect; to show self-awareness; to build emotional self-regulation, resilience, and mindfulness. They learn to respect others and their environment. Dr Maria Montessori stated that the Silence Game can give children the appreciation of quietness, silence, and peace.

Dr Maria Montessori created the Practical Life activities to introduce children to real and meaningful life work. Children desire order, exactness, and repetition. The adults at Grange Road campus are often reminded how beautiful it is to observe our children grow and simply observe the children focusing on a single task with such concentration and joy. Watching the children find pleasure in their task and repeating it over and over again until their needs are satisfied, gives us the adults a sense of pride and joy for our children. Many of our new children are working towards ‘normalisation’ and increasing their concentration skills. The aim for Practical Life activities (preliminary activities and movement, care of self, care of environment, grace and courtesy) was for children to gain their independence, body control, concentration and sense of order. “It is through appropriate work and activities that the character of the child is transformed. Work influences his development… his abilities give him great satisfaction, and he smiles with a sweet and joyous smile.” (San Remo Lectures, p. 28). It is through movement and freedom of choice that children build their confidence and happiness. Happiness is a form of mindfulness. “The child who concentrates is immensely happy” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 249). Many of our older children in Cycle 1 classrooms have extended their independence and concentration level to more complex activities especially in the area of Mathematics and Language. They are opening their minds to greater possibilities in the future.

As parents and teachers, we can practise the art of mindfulness with our children, ourselves, others in our home environment and the world at large. Purposeful relationships with ‘mindfulness’ and a peaceful environment at home will benefit all adults and children. Dr Maria Montessori stated that nurturing our children and our own spiritual development is equally important to guiding them and ourselves intellectually. Our children, others and our own well-being are the most important elements in our lives today. Let our happiness and joy shine through the various activities that we choose and enjoy every day. Let us continue to be kind, patient and compassionate to ourselves and others, either as parents, teachers or other professions in our child’s home and work environment. “True peace … suggests the triumph of justice and love among men; it reveals the existence of a better world where harmony reigns” (Peace and Education). Let us take care of each other and practise the art of Mindfulness to gain more peace, calm, and well-balanced life.

 

References:

  • “Montessori 3-6”. Association Montessori Internationale, 2021, https://www.montessori-ami.org/resource-library/quotes/montessori-3-6
  • “American Montessori Society- Maria Montessori”. Amshq.Org, 2019, https://amshq.org/About-Montessori/History-of-Montessori/Who-Was-Maria-Montessori/Maria-Montessori-Quotes
  • Montessori, Maria, and Claude A Claremont. The Absorbent Mind. Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company, 2019, p. 249

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