Mindfulness in the Classroom Daisy anaya

Maria Montessori

Montessori began her career by focusing on educating children with learning disabilities who were considered "idiots" (Krogh, 2012). She believed in developing the senses before abstract learning can take place, and placed emphasis on creating an environment which is conducive of learning while fostering inner-discipline ( most commonly known as self-regulation). Self-regulation refers to the capability to regulate one’s own behavior and emotional responses. In its simplest form, self-regulation can be conceptualized as (1) the ability to inhibit a behavior despite an impulse to act, and (2) the ability to engage in an action despite the desire not to (Willis, & Dinehart, 2014).

Children in a Montessori classroom are able to:

  • choose which activities to engage in
  • put an activity on hold and return to it at a later time
  • are given ample time to practice skills until fully mastered

These opportunities allow children in the Montessori classroom to foster self-regulatory skills.

Why is Self-Regulation Important in Early Childhood?

When we talk about "school readiness" we are looking at social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive skills necessary to function successfully in school. Self-regulation is extremely important in school readiness as it is necessary in all areas of development. Indeed, self-regulation has been proven to be a better predictor of success in school over IQ,ethnicity, and parents education levels. As a whole, self-regulation has been repeatedly linked to successful outcomes across numerous developmental domains, including school achievement (Willis, & Dinehart, 2014).

Classroom Concern

Accoding to Willis and Dinehart (2014), the number one concern teachers express is their students inability to follow directions in early childhood classrooms. Teachers are encouraged to try new and innovative ways to engage their students every day, which can be specially challenging for students with poor self-regulatory skills. Knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices becomes instrumental in guiding educators attempts at helping their students achieve higher levels of self-regulatory skills.

Mindfulness and Self-Regulation in the Classroom

Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of one's body, which in turn promotes self-regulation. Mindfulness takes the concept of "taking a breath" to the next level, allowing younger children to get in touch with their senses and therefore laying the foundation for more abstract skills associated with executive functioning.

“The education of a young child does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.” - Maria Montessori

References

Krogh, S.L., (2012). Early childhood education (2nd. Ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Willis, E., & Dinehart, L. (2014). Contemplative practices in early childhood: Implications for self-regulation skills and school readiness. Early Child Development and Care, 184(4), 487-499.

Credits:

Created with images by TeroVesalainen - "idea innovation imagination" • new 1lluminati - "Now" • stevendepolo - "Tempura Finger Paint Grand Rapids Montessori School" • ForbesOste - "Mind Full v. Mindful"

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