Observing

I post a lot of pictures on my blog because I consider this my observational record.  Everything from my weekly (or biweekly) homeschool highlight reel and project posts, to Montessori theory and philosophy are a part of that record.  Even more than my albums which are big and bulky, I consult this blog when I am feeling like I need information on what I should present next to one of the kids and for inspiration for practical life activities that may be particularly relevant to age or season.  The answer isn't always here and then I will dig out the big binders and their vast amount of detail, but that isn't where I look first.
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The albums on top of this shelf only represent about half of the total.
Observing allows me to see both what my little students are choosing and what they are NOT choosing off of the shelves.  For example, if I notice that my early reader is not spending much time in spontaneous writing I might wonder why and choose to draw attention back to some of those works in the lessons I present.   I also might notice that my older child is still relying on charts for most of his arithmetic work.  I can even see which shelves are being well cared and which need more attention, just by observing.  Many of my decisions on how to adjust the environment are based on observations of my kiddos interacting with the materials.

Even blog readers may have noticed that Kylee has been spending a lot of time engaged with math materials.  Between lessons I intended to present, spontaneous work, and lessons she has requested she is definitely in a sensitive period for numbers!

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I try to be discreet when I am observing so as not to interrupt their hard work.  This is where I find keeping my cell phone in my pocket for quick observations so useful.  I can pull it out when I see something I would like to record and hopefully not be noticed.  The important thing is not that I see their faces (although I sometimes get interesting pictures of their concentration), but that I see who is interacting with what materials.

I can't say that my discretion is always successful though- they do catch me....

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