I remember clearly what I saw on that day that blew me away so much it triggered me into immediate action. The whole room was buzzing with the quiet persistent hum of interest, curiosity and learning, and yet my mind could not comprehend what my eyes were clearly telling me was so. I kept blinking and watching and slowly a huge smile crept over my face involuntarily as a child’s eyes caught mine in what I can only perceive as mild curiosity laced with the indignation of being interrupted unnecessarily. The glance was fleeting and I could only continue gazing in admiration and amazement.
This was me in 2001, having just moved to Germany, and looking for a nursery place for my children aged 2 and 3, having stumbled upon a tiny Montessori Kindergarten. I was transfixed, standing in the doorway of a small prefab building where 28 preschool children calmly, and with inspired dedication went about their ‘work’ with enthusiastic knowing.
The term ‘work’ is what Maria Montessori calls each of her inspired lessons, which are all carried out on small mats, to mark their space, and equally are folded and rolled up to be place on the ‘mat’ shelf. After the work is self-checked, double checked by the ‘Directress’ and marked off for completion on her daily check sheet. What I was witnessing was a group of varied preschool children aged 2-5 carrying out their daily learning tasks with interest, satisfaction, curiosity and joy. As I watched fascinated at the lack of ‘teaching, scolding and constant directing’ I was amazed at how diligently, excitedly and with interest the children carried out their work, choosing whatever they wanted or needed to learn without the zones of their proximal development.
It was truly a beautiful sight to behold and of course I asked a million questions as I was looking to enrol my own 2 children in this awesome learning environment.
This moment changed my whole thinking of teaching and learning, and years later inspired me to study for a BA Honours in child psychology. What my understanding of child psychologists such as Bruner and Maria Montessori taught me was, ‘how important it is to allow children’s curiosity be the driving source of their education in order for them to retain the information learned. Children are very adept at ‘choosing’ what they believe they need to learn. Any parent who has watched a child try to understand the workings of the child stairgate, rather than the variety of ‘toys’ behind them back in the room will testify to this.
As a teacher, when you deliver a Montessori lesson you engage the group with all of the senses, using your voice clearly and slowly, as your hands illustrate in slow motion every task (once only) in specific order, using your eyes to captivate every eye in the room, and most importantly the ‘pause’ between important instruction’s. If given correctly, the Montessori lesson becomes a poetic symphony to witness and very beautiful, mesmerising every child in the circle. No need for ‘stars and ticks’, genuine pride and self-worth is enough. This was a much argued ‘principle’ of Ms Montessori, who forbade cheap ‘stars and ticks’ to cheapen the child’s achievement.
What actually happened was I enquired to work as a Montessori teacher and was accepted, starting a week later. I then proceeded to rearrange my children’s bedrooms into Montessori style learning centres. With eye level bookcases, and trays with self-correcting toys, puzzles and didactic materials I replicated what I had seen in the nursery. Every day after work I presented a new lesson or toy to my children to understand its basic use, which they learned, copied, played with and mastered until they tired of that toy. I rotated the toys every month, so they never actually got bored, and thus my children grew up self-serving, self-reliant, and self-educated to a very high standard before even starting school, and knowing how to fill their time productively. More importantly the toys I put at home reflected what I was doing in the nursery so that the competence level was never too high, just outside of their competence level reach. I could see from their mistakes what they needed to repeat or move forward from.
Years later as I became less able to climb under apparatus and be a ‘crocodile’ I gravitated towards a new kind of communication and engagement with children and adults alike. I love keeping people in the spell of ‘awe and wonder’, and so Hypnotherapy came very easily to me. I remembered the things I was able to encourage the children to do with my hypnotic storytelling and now I was able to use it for an even greater purpose of healing.
As I specialise in working with children as young as 4, it is my great pleasure and delight to weave my story telling spells, to the children as I watch them slowly ‘drift away’ into the land of ‘possibility and opportunity’, where everything really ‘can’ happen. Except for now, I have 2 bigger problems to deal with, who sometimes aren’t as easily convinced of their own child’s capabilities. Yes, Parents!
Parents lose touch very easily with ‘possibility, opportunity and curiosity’ as they get shoehorned into socially acceptable thinking. My biggest challenge in paediatric hypnotherapy is parents who have forgotten how to dream, believe and achieve their goals. Parents who don’t believe in their ‘own magic’ and therefore cannot see this for their child
So I decided to create Montessori Cards that are made for children, to educate parents. The cards explain the hypnotherapy process of my job and the process of how I deliver it. It’s awesome, and for the children it allows them to experience the first step of ‘recovery’ by taking ‘control’ of the situation though their understanding of it.
The cards are multi-functional.
- They should be used every night at bedtime to work subliminally on the subconscious, breaking down any fears or barriers.
- Some are written in future tense (so they assume the child will conquer their issue, to encourage to think of life after the fear has gone.
- Explains very clearly the process and how it will work.
- Empowers the child to feel ‘in control of the situation by understanding and explaining the process to the parent.
- Educates the parent in an easy to understand process, eliminating their own fears and reservations about the process.
- Opens up room for discussion and raise awareness of ‘where there may be concerns’
My desire for ‘awe and wonder’ has never abated. I live my magical life being led by curiosity and it has and does serve me well. I now live my ‘dreamlife’ every day by serving my clients and children as a Hypnotherapist and Life Coach and EFT Healer. More recently I have been asked to sit on a panel to teach children self-control through ‘breathwork’ which is fast becoming a silent and calming form of classroom management. https://www.schoolbreathe.com/team-page/
For more information on the work I do, and how I could support your child, or your school please go to www.essex-hypnotherapist.com or for public speaking on these and other personal development matters www.annemariewickham.com