The Qs are in green.
What would you do next?
Next I would give Little-N the choice to further his study about Europe by going through the European folders. These folders are a bit like the continent folders except each folder would be about a country in Europe. The folders would contain basic information about the country and a few pictures or postcards.
Or.. I would invite him to work with the flag pin board where he will place the correct flags for each country in Europe. He already knows this comes next so I wouldn't actually have to invite him.
Or.. I would see if he was more interested in working with maps from other continent. I think that's where he's going as he has already learnt many countries from around the world.
At what point, as a directress do you step in to say "The next thing you could do is....."
I try not to step in and say anything, he knows what materials are available and each time he goes to work on a map he can see the countries folders, the pin map and the other continent maps. So he indirectly knows what he can move onto, eventually when he feels he is done with the Europe map he will take out another piece of material and ask me if he can do it. Sometimes he doesn't even ask he just does it and surprises me. The key is to let him direct his learning and not me, self chosen activities are what leads to great achievements. If I feel a child is lost and unable to guide himself then I would say something like 'would you like to try this?' 'shall I show you how to use this?'. Also if a child is unable to figure out when they have had enough with an activity I might try to redirect their thoughts allowing them to decide if they need to move on or not, but this hardly happens.
If there is something that I need a child to work on or a new activity I need to present I would invite them to work with me with it or ask them if I can write it on their daily plans. Usually they agree and would come to me and say 'What work is this, can you show me it.'
and how do you encourage the child to engage and when do you back off?!
I'll be honest here, it depends on what activity it is that they need to engage in. I understand how difficult the EYFS can be and the strange requirements it has. The children in my class are self directed, I had one child who wasn't for a long time but due to the ground rules and work of other children he seemed to find out where he wants to go. Since I have a small class size , the children quickly pick up on each others interests, so when Little-N was interested in dragons, castles and knights, so was everyone else. This helps to keep the children who dont know what they want, engaged in activities, Little-N is a big trend setter by the way.
As for backing off, I try to do that as much as possible. For montessori to work properly, for the children to really absorb the learning they need to be the active ones, sailing the boat as I put it. I'm just there helping them out. I try not to correct errors, for example the other day one of the children was working on the table of subtractions, instead he added all the numbers!!! I left him, when he finished and was checking his answers he realised what mistake he made. HE simply added a line to made the minus sign a plus sign. The next time he was working with subtraction he said to himself 'this is subtraction not addition'. You have to believe that the children CAN do it, you have to think it in your head and say it to your self. Children pick up on our negative thoughts and know when we don't think they know something, consequently they'll think they don't know.
Some reception aged children are unable to sail the boat, so for them I would offer more guidance but be very in tune with them so that I can help them work out what they want to learn.
I am very interested in this as we are balancing Montessori with EYFS and this can be the hard bit!!
Our school is being moderated this year for the EYFS and I am so happy. It gives me the chance to prove to our borough that Montessori is the best. As montessorians we have everything in place to easily complete the EYFS we just need to work on the paper work, cross referencing and child profile. I don't actually teach the reception aged children, Little-N is the only reception aged child I have, however he already has scores of 8 and 9 in most area's except for the writing. Due to the nature of my work I have a responsibility to make sure the teacher who is working with the reception children does her work properly.
We don't separate the EYFS from the Montessori, instead we cover everything in the work cycle using the Montessori materials. We have all the Montessori materials and activities mapped to the development matters and EYFS scales. So we actually only do Montessori, but we use the EYFS and DM terminology to show inspectors that we have covered everything and more. The key to the EYFS profile is in your observations, you have to really dissect them, squish out all the proof an observation holds and then link it to the scales on the EYFS document. Once you have done that you'll feel much better.
I hope this helps, and if you have any more Qs then plse leave a comment and I'll be more than happy to share what we do.