“Concentration” is something that, in the Montessori classroom, we talk and think about a lot. The teachers (guides, Montessori called them) are looking and listening around for this. Not for “quiet” or ‘loud” or “good” or “bad” but for concentration. You can see it, even in the middle of chaos, a child sitting and attending closely to something. This can be a raindrop sliding down a window, whether a block can be carefully balanced on another, watching to see if the pet eats the food you just gave it, walking carefully so as not to spill water in a cup or basin, measuring with your eyes whether you can jump from this to that, trying again to get on that wobbly swing that looks so intriguing, counting carefully so as to get the right sum, working on writing the letters in your name, figuring out what sounds you hear in a word in order to write a note to your mom. What will allow your child to succeed in any new endeavor? The ability to concentrate, and knowing how and when to use this ability.
Montessori said : “Never interrupt a concentrating child, always interrupt a disruptive one.” One thing we teach is “how (and when) to interrupt”. This, as you can imagine, is difficult! Children are egocentric by design. However, we all deserve some freedom from interruption, and concentrating children and adults always deserve it.
In the classroom, children are taught to touch someone and say their name and wait! The other person may need to say “Wait.” and hold up a hand or finger to remind you (with a smile). Sometimes we say: “I need you to pause that and come back to it.” That means that we respect what you are doing, but we need you for a bit. We are so sorry to interrupt. Is this taught once and not again? No! We mention it every day. Every, every day. 🙂 In general, we do not respond to “yelling across the room.” Sometimes another child may need to remind someone : “Get up and go touch him, and say his name.” Of course, this means we adults also cannot yell across the room unless there is an emergency.
Why bother? For concentration, and for respect.