Monday, September 29, 2008


Motivation is very important in a Montessori classroom. It is what inspires the children to choose a work, complete it and then choose something else. Sometimes motivation is inspired by noticing what another child has chosen, and then choosing that work when it is back on the shelf. Sometimes a child is motivated to do a certain work because something about it (whether color, shape, or whatever) catches their eye and it looks appealing. Sometimes motivation is a direct result of having attempted a work before, and wanting to do it again and get better at it.

But...sometimes motivation has to be gently crafted FOR a child. If something has sat on the shelf for weeks and has not been touched (at least by a particular child), then the teacher has a job to do. How do you convince an almost 5-year old boy that pouring beans between two jugs is fun, and that he actually wants to do it, without making it seem like he HAS to or that I WANT him to do it...? The answer, at least for this particular boy but I think it would be the case for most children, was to give him an incentive. And no, not a reward exactly. But I let him know that when he got pretty good at pouring beans, and could pour them without spilling any, he would be able to move on to other pouring activities, and eventually would be able to pour water. That did it for him, and he went right over and took the bean pouring from the shelf. Yeah!

Every child is motivated by different things, but this kind of motivation clearly works in a Montessori classroom. Knowing the reason WHY you are practicing and working to master a certain activity can definitely help, especially for those tasks that seem too easy for an older child. The right motivation certainly keeps children interested and moving ahead...

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