Children need time and space in order to develop the necessary executive functions to be able to concentrate. This happens very early in life. The use of modern technology means that we often do not have to concentrate for very long in order to be able to get information about a topic, videos can help us quickly understand a difficult topic, a Whatsapp message tells us how our family is doing and even our fridge or washing machine lets us know when they need our attention!
This can make it difficult to develop the patience and concentration span necessary in order to persevere at something challenging. Dr. Montessori believed that we need to protect a child’s work environment so that they can learn to work in peace and concentrate and explore the materials fully. For this reason we prioritise uninterrupted work cycles in both Infant Community and Children’s House. Punctuality is very important for us and we ask all families to arrive by 9:00 in order to allow children to begin this uninterrupted period of work.
During this time, children may receive a presentation from a Guide or work on an activity they have previously received a presentation about. These include activities related to practical life, literacy, mathematics, geography, science, arts and craft and music. The individual attention that the children receive from the Guide in the form of a presentation is very valuable. First, it ensures that the child understands how to use the material, then it helps form a close bond between the Guide and the child. Finally, it helps modelling concentration. Children know that they cannot interrupt a Guide while they are giving a presentation as this is a protected and important time.
In Infant Community, children gradually develop the ability to work for longer periods of time and the work cycle lasts 1h 30m. In Children’s House, the cycle lasts up to 3 hours in the morning and, depending on the age of the child, this is repeated again in the afternoon.