Primary Program

Praise & Montessori by Kari Ewert-Krocker, Primary Teacher

This is a topic of conversation that comes up frequently in conferences and in small talk with parents.  Montessori strives to help the child be self-evaluative; to offer the children work that gives them feedback on their success so that they can assess the situation without the need for adult response, or praise.

While our initial reaction when children do quality work may be a huge high five and and a hearty “Great Job!”, each time we praise a child, we shift the focus away from the work that they’ve done and towards ourselves, and how we feel about their work.  Our opinion becomes their focus rather than their work, and over time, they begin to work for praise rather than for the process or the outcome.

When the children bring their work to an adult to share in the community, we frequently encourage them to reflect on it themselves. If they ask, “Did I do a good job?” we might ask them, “How do *you* feel about your work?”  Likewise, if they ask, “Do you like the drawing I did?” we might ask them, “Do you want to share it with me?  What do you see?”  Over time, this gives them the freedom to evaluate themselves; to find joy in their own work, to bask in their success.  They build a self-reliance and self-confidence that can come only when they are able to see the satisfaction of a job well done without the acceptance or condemnation of their work by another.

Here is a great article by Alfie Kohn: “Five Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job!’”     I hope you will take the time to read it through!