Usually in my newsletters and blog posts, I address the most commonly asked questions I hear from parent.
Not today. It’s something I rarely even get asked about. But it’s something that I have learned as a Montessori teacher that I want to share with you. Maybe it’s meant to be kept a secret. But I’m going to let you in on it to help you understand your child better. Let’s take a look.
Montessorians like to refer to it as “points of interest”. To be honest, I can imagine you all closing the browser window as you read that. It sounds boring and too technical and certainly couldn’t help you parent better, right?
I disagree. Stick with me. Or humour me at least.
If you can find a point of interest in an activity that your child is working on, they are likely to be fully engaged, working to master a skill, and deep in concentration. It’s like the holy grail.
You are following your child. Not only finding an activity that engages them, but you observe what detail they are focussed on the most, ie, the point of interest.
Let me give you an example, imagine that your child is learning to take off their shoes. But they are only opening and closing the velcro and not then taking their foot out. Rather than being frustrated at them, we can observe this and see that the velcro is their point of interest – the sound, the texture, the thing that is motivating them to master the skill of opening and closing velcro.
Have you ever felt frustrated that you get a new toy or activity for your child, and they are only interested in what appears to be a superficial part. It is actually the point of interest. Instead of frustration, when we truly observe our child and see their point of interest, we can actually enjoy to watch them master it.
Some more examples:
- We have a flower arranging activity in our classroom and the child can fill a jug with water, pour the water into the vase, place a flower in the vase, and place it on top of a doily somewhere in the class. And sometimes I observe the child pouring water from vase to vase, and using the sponge to wipe up the water on the tray. Could these be the points of interest today?
- When the child does the hand-washing exercise, there are so many points of interest that might engage the child. How we carry the jug; how we pour the water in the bowl; watching drips come off their hands; the soap getting bubbly etc. When the child’s point of interest is filling the bowl, they may not even wash their hands, but continue back to the sink to get more water. In this case, the repetition and concentration can help them master filling the bowl without spilling any water. I can support them by emptying the bowl when it is getting full. And not distracting them by interrupting them to finish the activity.
And once they have mastered one point of interest, there are many more we can show them and they can learn to master.
So look not just for an activity that interests your child; look further to the points of interest.”
How does this help you as a parent?
- To aid you in seeing the world through your child’s eyes
- To rid yourself of frustration that the child is not doing what you expect
- To rid yourself of fear that your child is not doing the right thing
- To look for ways to follow and support your child’s points of interest
- To look for other points of interest
- To protect these moments of concentration and repetition on the journey to mastery
- To accept where your child is today
- To remind you to follow your child and your child’s unique schedule of development.
Here is a little poster you can print off and stick on the fridge to remind you of our little secret. Click here to download.
I’m super curious to hear back if you notice anything over the coming days and think to yourself, “Ah, that’s their point of interest!” Be sure to let me know ok?