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So we teach and re-teach as child moves between levels one and two, and then one beautiful day, child is working at third level of obedience.
Let's take an example of making a bed. At first level, child is shown how to make a bed. The child shows willingness by trying to make bed next morning. The bedspread is hanging too low on one side and there are lumps. Being friendly with error, adult simply states, "You made bed by yourself."
The next day child forgets to make bed. The adult gives another demonstration, wordlessly looking at both sides of spread to make sure they are even. The next day child makes bed. The fourth day child forgets to make bed. The adult reminds child, and child goes cheerfully to make bed. If child protests, adult simply smiles and says "Let's do it together," knowing that child may have forgotten how to do it.
After a few days child can make bed with just a verbal reminder. At some point, weeks, months or years, child will reach third level and make bed perfectly without any reminders. (Parents of teenagers are allowed to roll their eyes if still waiting on this third level of obedience.)
All of us learn faster and better in a trusting relationship. Trust is developed by offering assistance in a clear, concise and kind manner. The adult doesn't ask child to do something that is too difficult or belittle child for not being able to do it. The adult remembers that it takes many reteachings to get to second level of obedience and much practice to arrive at third level.
The adult needs to observe child's will, skill and experience levels before asking them to do something. We can offer assistance to child, keeping in mind "any unnecessary help is a hindrance."
For three- to six-year-old, these levels of skill, experience and obedience are changing daily. As adults, we need to remain "friendly with error" as child's experience and memory propel them to third level of obedience, an obedience built on a relationship of trust and mutual respect.
Kids Talk is a column dealing with early childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Mrs. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland.
She has over 20 years experience working with young children and holds teaching credentials from Association Montessori Internationale.
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Maren Schmidt is Creative Director for a video-based reading series for children ages three to six, The Shining Light Reading Series. Visit http://www.shininglightreading.com for more information. Sign up for FREE here: http://www.shininglightreading.com/enews.html