What does the Montessori Silence Game have to do with self-regulation?
The Montessori Silence Game is a brilliant and simple game that can be played with one child or a whole classroom. It is a foundational activity in a Montessori curriculum that helps a child to develop self-discipline, self-control and a more acute awareness of the sounds or silence that surrounds him. Over time and with practice, a child learns to relax and absorb the beauty of the world around him through this simple activity which trains mindfulness.
It is so common and easy to assume that preschoolers, especially a group of them, cannot possibly achieve total silence or be mindful about their being or their surroundings. A preschooler is built by nature to move and climb and stretch and jump and crawl — this is how they grow, how they explore the limits of their bodies in relation to their world.
But the same little children are also capable of achieving total and maximum silence by complete inhibition of all their movements — to the point that they are able to hear the faintest whisper of their name being called.
Why is mindfulness so important?
I’m not training my toddler to be silent for me, I’m doing it for his benefit.
And actually, it’s not just about the silence per se, it’s about the mindfulness.
Mindfulness exercises naturally lead to self-awareness, self-control and self-regulation. There have been studies that show that self-control is a better indicator of success both in school and life in general, more so than higher IQ or wealth. Check out this great article in The New York Times.
Self-regulation is very important. As a child in school, self-regulation is needed to concentrate and listen to the teacher, to time oneself and complete school work according to the time limits, to control the impulse to chat with a friend endlessly when it’s time to wrap schoolwork up. As an adult, self-regulation is needed to stop oneself from binge eating leading to obesity, to control one’s impulse to drink if one is going to drive, for time management so that work is done by its deadline.
Those are just a few examples.
Isn’t self-regulation something that a child is born with?
Thankfully, self-regulation is something that can be developed. Check out this great article from Harvard. It takes time and practice though. This is why I see Montessori also as a way of life and not just pedagogy or a curriculum.
How do you incorporate the Montessori Silence Game into your homeschool routine?
I actually never planned on having any formal circle time, but recently our calendar work and this Silence Game has become our opening circle time of sorts. Z and I usually start our homeschooling day with a simple 60 seconds of the Montessori Silence Game, preceded by a quick prayer of thanks to the Lord. We work on our calendar after that, then dive into our Montessori work.
I hope to extend the time of silence as he gets better at self-control, and I also hope to have other varieties of mindfulness exercises that we can do together.
More resources on the Montessori Silence Game
- A round-up of how other families/schools play the silence game
- A great article on the silence game, ending with a must-read lecture by Dr. Maria Montessori herself entitled “The Importance and The Nature of The Silence Game” (all the way at the bottom.)