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On the Topic of Praise

Below is a recent piece and resource link from our Toddler Teacher Danielle Casillo to her students’ parents on the topic of praise in a Montessori classroom.  See for yourself how much sense it makes to think about the words we use when responding to a child’s accomplishments.   Saying things like “good job” actually casts judgement on a child’s efforts.  Children are not looking for that kind of feedback, the self-satisfaction of doing something that interests or challenges them is reward enough.  When we label what a child is doing or has done, we take ownership away from the child. It should be about what they feel and think.  

“I wanted to share something on the topic of praise, and how to differentiate between meaningless praise and constructive acknowledgement.  You may have noticed in any of the classrooms at Westmont, you really won’t hear the phrase “good job!”  You WILL hear things like, “I love the way you carried your work so carefully,” or “you worked so hard to finish that!” 

Part of the Montessori philosophy is to develop children’s intrinsic motivation – when they are self-motivated and feel a personal sense of accomplishment when they have achieved something, rather than be externally motivated, which is basically working for a reward.  When we are externally motivated, we are driven to do things to receive a tangible reward at the end.  This isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, but it can’t be the only way to be motivated.  Things are just things, while a personal sense of accomplishment is a far deeper and more lasting reward that also builds confidence”.

Parents can support the development of self-esteem and confidence by a simple choice of words, like, “You did it.”  This allows for self-reflection on the child’s part adding to a sense of accomplishment and pride to help them accept new challenges with confidence.

The joy and smiles of our children strengthen our commitment to a Montessori early childhood education. Westmont, an accredited school with the American Montessori Society (AMS) and Middle States Association (MSA-CESS), stands as one of the premier Montessori schools in NJ. We welcome you to discover Westmont.