This article includes excerpts from our Back to Montessori Booklet. Pick up a copy and learn everything your 3-6 child needs at home to thrive at school this year.
As a Montessori parent, figuring out what your child did all day can be particularly challenging. “How was your day” is a particularly useless question, as it asks for a judgment of the entire day in a word or two (good, bad, interesting). “What did you do today?” won't get you far either. Even if your child was happily engaged in work all morning, she may still say she did “nothing” all day. And on the surface, it may even look like your child is doing nothing (which is of course far from true.)
Your focus will become your child's focus, so steer clear of questions like “Did you get a new presentation today?” or “Did you get all your math work finished?” Look instead for open-ended, process focused questions that allow your child to actively reflect and make connections. This shifted focus will strengthen your child's ability to think for herself, draw new, creative solutions to problems, and have confidence in her abilities.
These questions below focus on recalling a specific event or piece of information, and are designed to spark a conversation. If your child doesn't begin talking, ask a follow up question (Like what?... Why?...Tell me more.) Some of these also take thinking one step further and encourage reflection, evaluation, application, and empathy. Young children are just developing the capacity for these advanced thinking skills, so you might get a non-logical answer back!
Today I challenge you to ask your child at least one of these questions. Write a few down and keep them in your car, purse, or wallet if you like.
Note: your child may take much longer to answer, as these questions require more complex thinking. Be sure to wait up to 30 seconds before repeating yourself.
Primary Montessori: (ages 3-5)
What is something that went really well today?
What is something that was challenging today?
What was really fun today?
What new thing did you try today?
How did you help a friend today? ...How do you think they felt after you helped?
How did you take care of your classroom today?... What if no one helped take care of the classroom?
Did you read a book today? What was it about?
How are you feeling right now? ...What else?....What else?...What else?
Did you need help with something today? How did you solve it?
What did you eat for snack/lunch? Was anything particularly delicious?
5 bonus questions for Elem (6-9)
What project are you working on now? How do you feel about your progress? (reflection, evaluation)
How were you kind to your classmates today? (reflection, evaluation, empathy)
Tell me an amazing thing you learned today. Is it a fact or an opinion? (application, reflection)
Is there something that you said or did that you would take back now? What would you do instead? (empathy, evaluation, problem solving)
How is your guide feeling today? (encourages conversation, listening, and empathy)
35 Helpful Catchphrases
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Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions.