Although mindfulness and heartfulness are newly coined concepts, Montessori was ahead of her time in sharing these profound practices with the children in her children’s homes. Mindfulness and heartfulness, in essence, form the basis of Montessori education.
“Children are born mindful, and with wisdom, we can keep this skill alive: Montessori is wonderful in this way.” – The Dalai Lama.
So how exactly does Montessori education encourage mindfulness and heartfulness in children?
Firstly let’s define the term mindfulness. According to Susan Stephenson, author of Montessori and Mindfulness, “mindfulness definitions include being involved with, or concentrating on… without being distracted by what is going on around us.”
Montessori noticed how focused a child’s mind became through scientific observation when they were allowed the space and freedom to follow their interests. This honing of the child’s mind and attention to the desired activity brought about a deep concentration level. As a result, the child emanated profound and immense happiness.
This deep concentration is the foundation of any mindfulness practice. Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Master of Mindful Awareness, says, “mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes”.
Montessori guides thus become guardians of a child’s concentration to allow and protect the child so that they can be fully absorbed in the present moment, in complete awareness, where true happiness exists.
So if mindfulness is loving awareness in the present moment, how does one define heartfulness?
The Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation defines heartfulness as “a heart-centered approach to life, where you will ideally be able to live each moment by the heart. It is to live naturally, in tune with the noble qualities of a heart, enlightened and refined through spiritual practice. These qualities include compassion, sincerity, contentment, truthfulness, and forgiveness; attitudes such as generosity and acceptance; and the heart’s fundamental nature, which is love.”
Montessori observed that a child granted the freedom to follow his own heart within supportive guiding boundaries revealed noble qualities naturally. The child showed a natural love and acceptance for himself and others and deep care for his environment and all living things within it. The beauty of his soul revealed itself in all its loving, compassionate, and caring glory, full of peace and with a deep desire to spread kindness in the world!
So if mindfulness and heartfulness are practices seen as pathways to peace in our world, can we perhaps coin Montessori as a form of peace education? Absolutely!
“Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” Maria Montessori.
How are mindfulness and heartfulness incorporated into a Montessori education?
1. The child is free to follow his interests and his heart.
2. The child is given space and time through uninterrupted long work cycles where he has ample time to explore and concentrate on his activities of choice.
3. The Montessori guide gives grace and courtesy lessons daily to demonstrate to the children how to behave in loving, kind, and thoughtful ways.
4. The children work out conflicts at a peace table where each child holds a peace object, such as a rose, and has the opportunity to share their feelings, let them go, and resolve the issue with love and care.
5. Mindful spaces are created within the environment so that the child has the opportunity at any time to spend time in quiet self-reflection.
6. The children play the silence game regularly. Children sit in silence and listen patiently for their names to be whispered. This simple activity tunes their senses, connects the child to the present moment, and gives the child a profound experience of the peacefulness of silence.
7. The children are encouraged to practice gratitude as a way of life.
8. Montessori guides respect the children, and in return, the child develops this respect for himself and shares this respect with others and his environment.
9. Simple mindful activities such as walking along the line at circle time are encouraged as a form of moving meditation.
10. Children work collaboratively on projects in vertically aged groups. This collaborative approach helps the child to learn through experience to be mindful and respectful of others’ views and input.
Mindfulness and heartfulness have many benefits to the well-being of a child. These powerful practices reduce stress, improve immunity, regulate emotions, build resilience, increase feel-good mood-boosting hormones and expand compassion for others, among many more.
With good intentions, uninterrupted attention, and a positive attitude, children can learn to master themselves. In this way, the mindful and heartful Montessori educational model prepares a child’s young mind for childhood and life and sows the seeds for a more peaceful world!
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Programs offered at ExcellED Montessori Plus include:
✔️Infants (10 Weeks – 18 Months)
✔️Toddlers (18 – 36 Months)
✔️Primary (3-6 Years)
✔️Mother’s Day Out
✔️Spanish Immersion / Dual Language
✔️After School Programs and Summer Camp (6 – 12 Years)
Music, Spanish, and Yoga are other programs included as part of the tuition.
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