A note to the uninitiated: Aunty Aidan is Aidan Montessori School's cheeky advice columnist. Have you got a question for her next column? Please email the grande dame herself - she's always happy to help.
Dear Aunty Aidan,
I've been told that my child makes decisions and solves problems by herself at school. Not seeing it. What's the Montessori secret?
Shh, I Won't Tell
There's no secret (like in a mystery) but a secret (like in a blueprint): we ask questions.
This manner of inquiry isn't classified or concealed; it just takes practice in stepping back, halting our adult-quick-solution-seeking, and the ever-present, it's-easier-to-just-direct mindset.
Instead of telling a child what to do, we might state the problem – the dog is hungry – and, instead of telling them to feed it, we ask, what do we need to do? We offer assistance with a simple, "How can I or may I help?" and pause to allow the child time to consider their options and needs.
The immediate goal, of course, is to complete the task or fix the problem. The long term and more important objective is to give the child ownership over their experiences and guide them towards thinking through solutions for themselves. Here's a link to several more queries to try. So don't tell - ask.