Monday, 9 April 2018

Why Protecting Concentration in Infants is Crucial

Respect for concentration, starting from infanthood, is a focus in Montessori, but not something I had thought much about before discovering Montessori.

Obviously, I cared for and loved my infants, but respecting their development and concentration to the extent that Montessori aspires to was new to me until I read The Absorbent Mind. 
Adults can hinder this inner toil when they rudely interrupt a child's reflection or try to distract him. They take the tiny hand of a child, or kiss him, or try to make him go to sleep without taking into account his peculiar psychic development. Maria Montessori
When Benedict was a baby, I read in the Kavanaugh report about how when her infant son is focussed on her, she does her best not to look away, and it really helped me to see how I often rushed my children and broke their concentration.

Does Something so Small really Matter?

In short, yes it does. 

The short period of infanthood sets the building blocks for so many crucial skills.

Babies are entirely dependent on us, so it is easy to forget to observe what they are doing before picking them up for the diaper change or feeding they may need at that time.

But every time we interrupt them when they are deep in concentration observing their environment and making crucial connections between themselves and their environment, we are interrupting important development.

Later on, we want kids to be able to sit and do school work, to pay attention during stories, or when we talk to them. This important skill, concentration, starts developing in infanthood.

Small but Mighty

You might not even notice your infant in concentration, I know I didn't before, not really.

But you will now.

When I take a moment to observe Ignatius before moving him, I notice:

  • How mesmerized he can be, for surprisingly long periods of time, by his hand 
  • How long he may stare at the pattern of the couch or blanket
  • How engaging a mobile or the simple pictures in his movement area can be 
  • How content he can be with just a blanket on the floor, free to kick and wave his arms
  • How happy he is to observe his brothers 
  • How he mimics my expressions and movements when I talk to him and give undivided attention

These opportunities for concentration are small and easy to miss if we are not looking for them, requiring us to be all the more aware.

But the hope is that, later on in life, this chance to practice concentration will help our children be capable of concentration, which is such a valuable aspect of learning.

Thank you for reading, for more posts on concentration, check out: Simple Ways We Encourage Concentration | The Value of Concentration

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. And if you are interested in following along in our daily adventures, follow us on Instagram where I post daily.

God bless,
Olivia Fischer

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