Preschool Children Thrive in Learning with Montessori Methods
If you have a preschool-aged student, you have no doubt noticed that their focus waxes and wanes throughout the day. It’s commonly believed that young children simply can’t focus for very long, and that they’ll become fatigued and difficult to manage in the classroom. This is simply not true. Preschoolers benefit from a sustained period of learning when it is properly guided by authentic, well-trained Montessori educators.
Often, when parents visit our school to learn about Montessori classroom techniques and discover that we do a three-hour period of independent, student-led learning, they are surprised. They may ask how we can keep our preschool students on task and learning through a morning of quiet, independent study. The Montessori method makes this work.
Though it may seem surprising, children as young as three years old can successfully choose their own project and focus on it until it is finished. The Montessori approach is highly effective at teaching concentration, discipline, and discovery skills that will help your son or daughter accomplish so much at a young age. These skills are extremely useful as your child grows up, helping them be successful in school and life.
What Is False Fatigue in Preschool Students?
To understand false fatigue—and why it doesn’t have to govern how preschoolers are taught—it helps to know how children approach learning. Like many adults, young people often like to start a project by taking on easy tasks first. Then, they move into activities that are moderately challenging.
At this point, after about ten minutes, they begin to show signs of what is known as “false fatigue.” During this phase in the learning process, children can become:
- Appearing to lose interest
But as Maria Montessori looked further into how children learn, she realized that this fatigue is only momentary. As long as teachers approach this phase wisely, they can help students move into an even deeper phase of discovery which benefits the child and puts them on the path to lifelong success.
False Fatigue in Montessori vs. Traditional Classrooms
Many adults, including traditional teachers, see the false fatigue behaviors as a signal that kids are no longer ready and willing to keep learning. It is considered a time to switch tasks to something less “demanding”—like games or recess. Unfortunately, this can actually interrupt a child’s learning process, stopping them from achieving the deep discoveries that move them forward into greater understanding.
But Maria Montessori discovered that this period of restless distraction is not true fatigue. Even though preschoolers may seem antsy and noisy, they aren’t truly tired. They simply need a chance to breathe and refocus. As adults, we can relate to needing a short break in the middle of a complex project. Getting up from our desk for a few minutes can help us to come back to our task a short time later, ready to focus again.
Young children are the same. A great Montessori preschool gives students the nurturing space to pause and breathe at this phase of learning, while creating an environment that allows them to refocus. This fosters their educational growth, benefitting them long-term.
How Montessori Preschool Redirects False Fatigue
In our Montessori preschool curriculum, our teachers make room for addressing false fatigue. Rather than approaching it as a potential problem, the Montessori method sees it as a necessary, but brief, part of discovery. It is the point at which your preschool son or daughter is no longer satisfied doing the easy tasks they can already handle. They want to learn more! They just need time to figure out what they really want to learn next.
Rather than interrupting children at this crucial stage to do something unrelated, Montessori teachers give students an opportunity to redirect their own learning.
- Assume the child is no longer interested in discovery
- Rush to distract the student to avoid their restlessness
- Give the child space to choose their next activity, based on what truly begins to capture their imagination
- Provide students time to direct themselves, fostering their self-discipline and tenacity
- Offer a calm, nurturing classroom that encourages your son or daughter to boldly pursue new interests
The Benefits of Making Room for False Fatigue to Pass
The truly amazing aspect of giving preschoolers room to self-direct their learning rather than quickly moving to suppress their initial restlessness is that it creates so many advantages that benefit your son or daughter for years to come.
By encouraging children at a young age to choose their learning activities, they develop a sense of initiative and are more likely to discover their unique gifts and purpose at an early age.
When allowed to move through restlessness and distraction without a quick fix, preschoolers learn to develop self-control. This skill is essential to success in their academics and career, as well as in social relationships.
Love of Learning
An added benefit of helping students move through false fatigue is that they come to realize that learning can be fun. They get the time they need to contemplate what they want to discover, and then go after that knowledge—which fosters a lifetime love of learning.
Preschoolers who work through the momentary frustration of tackling a not-so-easy task gain the opportunity to figure out a way to master that task. As they accomplish something that was initially a challenge, they learn they are capable of success. They learn to be persistent and to believe in themselves.
Montessori Preschool Curriculum Prepares Your Child for Lifelong Success
Momentary restlessness doesn’t have to interrupt your child’s learning. Our Montessori preschool curriculum prepares your son or daughter for success in every area of life. We serve families with preschool-aged children throughout the Gaithersburg, Rockville and Bethesda areas of Maryland.
Learn how our primary school program benefits preschoolers, and reach out to us to schedule a tour and see our classrooms in person.