The Silence Game
3a) What is the benefit to the child of the ‘Silence game’? (500 words) Constant noise can create irritability, frustration, confusion, and even sleepiness. Everyone needs moments of peace to rest our bodies and to listen to our thoughts. Dr.
Montessori says that a deeper level of awareness and sensitivity to noise can help is to enter into a “more refined and subtle world”. Montessori therefore came up with the “Silence Game” or “The Exercise of Silence”. Dr. Montessori created the Silence Game while working with children who were partially deaf. She observed that their hearing improved when they were able to listen carefully for sounds. Standing at the back of the room with the children facing away from her, Dr. Montessori quietly called out the name of each child. When the children heard her call their name, they would quietly walk to where she stood. Silence has become one of the best known characteristics of the Montessori Method.
It has been adopted in many schools and has succeeded in bringing to them something of the Montessori spirit. (Montessori, 1988). After the Silence Game children become more obedient, sweet, and gentle. Dr Montessori also realized that after such an exercise the soul of the child has its spiritual rewards. In the Montessori Classroom, the Silence Game is played to help children develop not only a higher level of self-discipline, but to acclimatize children to the world around them. Many adults and children take for granted the sounds around them.
And in our fast paced world, few of us stop to “smell the roses” let alone take the time to quietly listen and reflect. The Silence Game takes practice. Young children and those who are not yet normalized have relatively short attention spans and find it ever so difficult to remain still and quiet for more than 20-30 seconds. With practice, attention spans lengthen and children learn to relax, absorb, and appreciate the world around them. During the Silence lesson, the children in the class can choose to participate in the making of the silence.
In order to “make silence”, the child must have self control, they must become aware of everything in their bodies that can move, and they must want to cooperate with those who are silent around them. But before the children can even play the game, the child must have developed good coordination of movement, they must have a strong will, they must have a great awareness of themselves and of others, and they must have experienced some silence before. When the children do create silence, they will not only have experienced a moment of peace and tranquility, but they will want to play it over and over again.
The Direct purpose of the Silence game is to build the child’s awareness and sensitivities to the noise around him and the noise he creates. The indirect aim is to create a sense of awareness of their bodies and building up balance. Dr. Montessori believed that the silence game was like a religious experience for children. It is important not to break off the game abruptly. The end result is a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Everyone feels rested after the experience.