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Follow the child

Providing Experiences that Match your Observations

If you have been around Montessori for long, you have probably heard the term, “following the child”. For anyone not Montessori trained, you may not know exactly what is meant by this. In essence it means that we observe the child and then take our direction from our observations by providing them with experiences that fulfill their inner drive.

Observe first

My son has been very keen on carrying our keys around and putting them in any place they will fit in an effort to unlock things. Expertly, he is imitating what he sees. If we hold him up to a lock and give him the correct key, after some time, he can get the key in the hole. He is also capable of taking it out.

Providing Activities Based off of Observation

While this real world experience pleases him tremendously, it also is a minor burden on us. First off, there have been several times that we have been on the way out the door only to discover that our keys were not where we left them. Fifteen minutes later, they were discovered in some overlooked crevice. Because we are in a foreign country and don’t have access to all the same toys. We were unable to purchase a ready made lock box for children for just this purpose. Instead we improvised and purchased a padlock which we locked to a chair in our living room. The keys went on a keychain and now Orion has his own set. We ended up putting them on a lanyard so he could wear them around his neck. He is quite keen right now with putting and taking things off his head/neck.
boy learning fine motor skills keys locks

Allow Child to Independently Work with Activity

After we secured the lock so that it was parallel to the floor, thus easier for him to access, we showed him how it was done. He immediately became focused on this new task and sat for over 20 minutes with this activity. The first time he succeeded in getting the key in the lock, he clapped. He was so proud of his accomplishment. And just like a scientist, he experimented more, in the attempt to achieve the same results. Which he did, time and again. While absorbed in this activity, you can see that he is further developing his hand-eye coordination and his fine motor skills. Children are externally drawn to activities and materials that help them to further create themselves. It is our job to make sure that the objects they need to fulfill this internal drives are available to them.


I hope you enjoyed this article and have a little clearer idea of what it means to follow the child. You can read more on following the child here.

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