The work period, giving kids between two and a half to three hours to work and learn, is one of the keystones of Montessori philosophy. The length of this work period is important because it allows kids to learn and gives children time to focus on the task.
Have you ever wondered why the work period needs to be so long? Here is a breakdown of how your child develops focus during this extended period of time.
The Montessori Work Period
Montessori philosophy was developed by Maria Montessori, based on her extensive research and experience as a teacher. She found that children needed an extended period of time to work independently in order to buckle down and really focus. Kids go through several distinct phases during the work period, the last of which shows the development of true concentration. Allowing for a work period of 2.5 to 3 hours therefore helps teach kids not only the topic at hand, but also the valuable skill of focusing on a task.
Think for a moment about how you start a day at work. If you’re like most people, you prefer to “warm up” by getting started with an easy task, such as checking email.
Children are the same way. When she observed children during an extended work period, Maria Montessori found that they tended to start out with an easy task. Once they accomplished that, they moved on to a slightly more difficult task. These “easy” tasks often include things they’ve done before, making them familiar — a good “warm-up.”
After the first couple tasks are completed, children tend to get a little restless. An inexperienced teacher may feel this means the children’s focus is expended and it’s time for a new activity, but Montessori philosophy holds that it’s simply time for a break before the real work begins.
You probably operate the same way: After warming up by checking email and completing some light work, you take a break to get coffee, use the restroom, or go for a walk before really buckling down. Children need this break too, but they also need the time after the break to help them learn to focus.
The Final Phase
After the short period of restlessness that occurs during the “false fatigue” stage, the children are refreshed and ready to tackle the most important and challenging work of the day. Children tend to choose more challenging tasks during this stage, and pursue them with a deeper, almost unbreakable focus.
The Montessori Philosophy
The work period is one of the most important things that a Montessori curriculum can offer your child. Having between two and a half and three hours to work allows children the opportunity to learn important skills, such as focus, that will carry them through the rest of their schooling and adulthood.
To find out how our Montessori schools can help your child achieve these skills, contact us today and schedule a tour.