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What is Our Role as the Adult or Guide in the Montessori Learning Environment?

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

As the adult or guide in the classroom environment, our job is to facilitate a positive learning environment to ensure the maximum success and potential of the children. We are there to guide the children in the classroom. Through our guidance, we are actively present to make sure the children are being productive and safe, while simultaneously having freedom in the ability to choose the work they would like to complete. With that said, we do additionally guide them to choose the right work if certain circumstances are met. For example, if a child is choosing to complete work solely on mathematics every day throughout the week, we would guide them to choose work in another avenue, possibly language or science. This way they are learning everything that they need to know while retaining a sense of freedom in choosing what to work on depending on how they feel on a given day. Mario Montessori once spoke about his mother by saying, “Montessori saw education as a means whereby children might develop their personalities so as to achieve a mature and independent adulthood eventually.” This is precisely our goal as guides in the Montessori classroom.

With that said, in order to prepare in offering children an outstanding education in the classroom, all Montessori guides adhere wholly to eight roles found within the Montessori guide. They are as followed:

1. Caretaker

The first role as a Montessori guide is to ensure that we are caring for both the environment and our children. When the children don’t feel like they are being loved or respected, they won’t feel the same burning desire or find enjoyment in being at school or in an at-home learning environment. No child would want to be around someone all day that doesn’t care about them – it is simply unhealthy and an impairment to a child’s sense of development.

2. Facilitator

Everything in the Montessori learning environment has a purpose. Either educational for work within the environment or educational for skills to learn later in a child’s life as they develop into an adult. As a facilitator, we need to assist children in the completion of their work, but once they understand how to do it, we step away and let them do it independently so that they do not rely on someone to be with them every move that they make. The facilitation of a child’s independence is developed this way, and they would be more likely to aid others in the classroom by being more self-confident of their own work. Maria Montessori says, “The child seeks for independence by means of work; an independence of body and mind”. We need to make this independence possible for the children.

3. Observer

We need to observe our children and watch to see if they are having difficulty with something specific. We want them to build the perseverance to keep trying to overcome a difficult concept or subject and complete their work by themselves; however, we do have to ensure that they don’t push themselves too far, causing them to get frustrated. We need to observe closely to make sure that if we see the child about to get frustrated and give up, we step in to show them it’s ok to ask for help if they need it, and help accordingly to aid in the child’s success. This will gear the child to succeed on their own for next time.

4. Collaborator

Our job as the guide is to connect the child with the environment around them, that we provide. As most researchers already agree, the environment in which one is placed is equally important to the development of a child as their own heredity. “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed… At no other age has the child greater need of intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.”

5. Teacher Who Sits Back

A key role in being a Montessori guide is that you sit back and observe the children. A great example of this is at recess when a group of children are playing nicely and another child who is angry goes up to wreck their game. They start yelling at each other and fighting. Instead of jumping in and you resolving their problem for them, you watch to ensure it doesn’t get physical. Most likely the children will solve the problem on their own.

6. Assister

We (as Montessori guides) are always being told to let the children do it themselves to teach them independence. This is extremely essential, but there are certain circumstances where you do need to assist. If a child is doing something that they are finding a little too hard (ex. doing up a zipper) you watch to see when the frustration is about to come. Then you jump in and offer help right before they get frustrated. Then later on in the day, you could practice the zipper dressing frame with that child, to help build their confidence in a relaxed setting. If you don't have a zipper frame at home, you can bring in their jacket or sweater and have them practice doing the real thing. One thing to note if using a real jacket or sweater is to make sure that the zipper isn't one of those super difficult ones. If you have a hard time zipping the zipper up, then they definitely will! Always remember to set your child up for success.

7. Co-participant

To ensure success in the classroom environment, a fundamental goal for us to adhere to as guides is to be actively engaged with all adults and children in the learning environment and within the community. Thus, by setting an active example in the learning environment for children to observe they will be more inclined to reciprocate it themselves.

8. Measurer

As a Montessori guide, our role is to adequately assess the children’s progress and ability to work both independently and as a team. In doing so, we can ensure maximum learning and growth within the course of the development of the children.

Which role do you find the most difficult to put into action? Leave a comment below and let's help each other out and discuss it further!

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