Montessori Alliance

Sense of Order – Admin #10

Posted by Administrator on February 27, 2019

At lunch time, the children eat what they want from their lunch box, put their plate in the sink, get their outdoor gear on and head out to the garden.  Today Liam was the last to finish his lunch.  He was still holding his sandwich in his hand. While I tidied up and set the chairs out for circle time I asked him if he wanted to put his sandwich back in his lunch box and finish it at home. He said he wanted to “eat the bread” so I left him to eat it but he didn’t.  Instead he pottered around the shelves and at one point put one chair on top of another and sat on them.  My colleague talked to him and he insisted that he wanted to “eat the bread”.  Liam is normally one of the first to eat his lunch so we knew this behaviour was out of character but we couldn’t pin down the reason behind it.  When asked about his lunch he said repeatedly he wanted to eat it.  When my colleague put Liam’s sandwich in his lunch box and closed the lid Liam got very upset so my colleague took the lid off his lunch box and said of course he could eat it.

Sometimes children need to be told it’s okay not to do something so I told Liam it was okay if he didn’t want to eat it. He was adamant that he wanted to eat the sandwich.  My colleague and I were at a loss; on one hand he said he wanted to eat the sandwich but on the other he hadn’t put it to his lips.  I thought maybe he didn’t like the bread stuck together so I asked him if he wanted me to separate the two slices; “No, I want to eat it”, was his reply.

Eventually my colleague said this was the first time Liam had brown bread for lunch…eureka… so that could be the issue.  To test her theory my colleague asked Liam if he would swap his brown bread for white bread and he said “yes”. My colleague couldn’t find white bread but found crackers and asked Liam if these were okay to swap for his brown bread. He agreed and happily put his brown bread in to his lunch box and closed the box.  Liam ate what he wanted of the crackers, tidied up, put on his outdoor gear and went out to the garden with his peers.

This incident was a real demonstration of how difficult it is to tease out meaning from a young child who doesn’t understand why he can’t do what he always does.  If the child can’t understand it themselves how can they explain it to someone else?  This was a perfect storm of limited communication skills and lack of knowledge about himself (why don’t I like this? It’s bread! I like bread), struggling against the child’s sense of order (this is my lunch; I eat what’s in my lunch box and then I go outside).  To go outside the child’s sense of order told him he needed to eat his lunch so when my colleague offered an alternative he could fulfill his ‘task’ and his sense of order was satisfied.

My colleague told Liam’s mum what had happened. His mum said the family were trying to eat healthier and that’s why they had introduced brown bread.  It was agreed Liam could get white bread for his lunch in school until he got used to eating brown bread at home. Sometimes children need time to adjust. Changes we as adults think are small and inconsequential can be daunting if viewed from the child’s perspective.

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