Perseverance is having the self-discipline to complete a task in spite of being confronted with difficulties.
The Montessori classroom is designed to help children develop perseverance. The “works” in the classroom are intentionally crafted to allow children to master a task independently as long as they put forth some effort. Montessori materials have a “control of error” which means that the work is designed so that the child receives feedback as she works, allowing her to recognize, correct, and learn from mistakes without adult assistance.
In this day and time, in an effort to “protect” our children, we, as parents, often step in unnecessarily. Just the other day I found myself doing that very thing: My daughter has been wanting to buckle her car seat in the mornings. One morning she was having trouble buckling one of the latches on the 5-point harness seat.
She began whining/crying and talking to herself. Not wanting this process to cause her distress, I reached in and buckled the latch. This only exasperated the problem. My daughter screamed, “but I wanted to do it myself!” At this point in time, my Montessori thought process kicked in: She did not ask for my help nor did I ask if she wanted help before I intervened.
In moving forward, I have intentionally not stepped in even when she becomes frustrated. She now is able to get the latches buckled and is so proud of her accomplishment. I have learned that listening to a few minutes of whining and crying is a small sacrifice for allowing my daughter to develop perseverance and independence.
How can we encourage perseverance in our children?
From years of working with families I have discovered that when a child encounters a problem, parents often look to circumstances, settings or the environments as the source. While in some instances that may be the case, we can generally can not solve a child’s problem by simply removing them from the circumstances or environment. What message are we sending our children?
As adults if we are having conflict with a fellow co-worker should we simply switch jobs? If the task our boss has given us is a little harder than expected should we find a new place to work?
No, we should try to resolve our conflict with a fellow co-worker and ask for help when a task is a little much for us. These concepts are what we should strive to teach our children as we prepare them for adulthood. We can do this by adhering to the following:
1. Believe in your child’s ability to achieve
2. Expect your child to finish what he/she starts
3. Provide positive feedback when your child puts forth effort
4. Help your child realize that everyone makes mistakes but the most important thing is to keep trying.
5. Motivate your child to try new things
6. Tell your child to ask for help when needed
7. Encourage your child to take responsibility for himself/herself and make constructive choices.
Helping children learn to be patient and persist in spite of struggles or failure are attributes that will contribute to their future success. The Montessori classroom is designed for this so let’s make sure that we as parents encourage perseverance outside of the classroom as well!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Sewell is the head of school at Pinewoods Montessori in Hillsborough, NC.