Child Screams and Runs Around the Classroom When Asked to Put Montessori Activities Away

Photo of young boy with black hair and brown eyes, crying, sad

I have a child in the class who just turned three. Very smart. His parents are bilingual. Repeats words, phrases, or sentences you say in the third person. He can sit down and do work but when he is done he would start screaming or running around the room wall to wall. Then would have a hard time going back to work. He has a fascination with fans and makes fans out of most of the materials. Recently he has been pulling hair in random no apparent reason and no show of emotions toward the child. Are these signs of something about the child or just simply a child lacking communication skills that will come soon. Thanks.

"When he is done he would start screaming or running around the room wall to wall..." I suspect he gets away with not putting his belongings away at home, too, and uses tantrums to get his way. Ask for a good time to talk with the parents over the phone (try not to talk in front of the child) and find out what their child does when he is asked to put something away (jacket, lunch box, blocks, etc.). If he can get away with it at home, then why not at school! 

Plus, he is in the Sensitive Period for Order! The family needs to follow the same Montessori principles at home as far as Practical Life Care of the Environment (putting your things away, and always in the same place).

So what to do at school? When we encountered this problem, we gave group lessons on how to put your work away. We'd ring the bowl, and have everyone stop and look, while one of the teachers took out a material, did the activity, and then put it away (Montessori Social Grace and Courtesy). Then, the teacher picks a child to have a turn. Do this once a day for a few days.

We also did puppet shows after playtime, and we did the same thing, only with puppets (and talking), then the puppets would ask the children questions about it... sort of like a Q&A.

Another method we tried was pairing up the young child with an older child, they did an activity together and the older child would model the behavior (put the activity away).

Pulling hair: Give lessons on how to touch someone, on how to be gentle (Montessori Social Grace and Courtesy). Do a puppet show. Ask the parents if he does this at home, or if another sibling pulls hair. Also, give lessons on how to ask someone to play with you...

Thanks, Lisa. For sharing your time and knowledge with us. These are great suggestions. What do you think about his fascination with fans or anything shaped or moved like it? Is it just a phase?

It's very common in preschool children! A new practical life skill is almost always repeated, given the chance! To move him forward, you can make fan-matching activities, fans from Japan, fans from China, counting fans, color-matching fans... Once you know a child's interest, expand on it!

~Lisa Nolan

Photo credit: Nisha A / Foter / CC BY

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