A couple of people have recently asked me about the montessori approach to sharing. There is quite a gross misconception that montessori education discourages sharing, but this could not be further from the truth. The main motivation is to prepare an environment in which children are able to spontaneously choose activities for themselves and to enable them to maintain their absorption in their self chosen activity without interference. Making use of mats helps to define the childs space. Children are also guided in how to best express their needs, and feelings and so if they are busy with an activity and another child shows an interest in the same material, we try best to give them the tools for how to manage the situation, this could either mean agreeing to work together, observe the play, or find another activity until their turn comes. There is a strong emphasis on shared learning experiences which occurs mostly through the day, but care is also taken to respect each child’s needs and wishes, and to guide the children on how to be respectful of eachother, learning patients and turn taking.
In this instance, all the children where more than happy to co-operatively engage in the same activity and learn from eachother. This sort of respectful play is born out of understanding the social interaction and being mindful of one another’s needs.