by Carmen Gamper)

“Non-Invasive Teaching” describes a variety of teaching modalities which avoid giving direct orders such as “Come to the blackboard and show me…”, and group orders, such as “Now we are all opening up our books…”. Carmen Gamper developed the guidelines for “Non-Invasive Teaching” based on Maria Montessori, Klaus Dieter-Caul, Reggio Emilia, and Rebeca and Mauricio Wild’s approaches.

Educators can respect the unique physical, emotional, and intellectual state of an individual child by using a variety of teaching skills and tools.

a. Prepare Self-Directed Learning Environments and Provide Hands-on Learning Materials.
Environments can inspire the natural acquisition of academic, practical and social skills. The classroom becomes a ‘third teacher’.

b. Let Children Play.
Prepare environments for pretend play, dramatic play, imaginary play, block play, and movement play. Don’t interrupt children’s free play unless it is necessary – learning and emotional processing is occurring during play. ASSIST free play with clear boundaries and guidelines, e.g. A child plays the director: “You are the king, you are the cook and I will be the princess.” Ask all children involved, if they would like to play the assigned roles, or if they prefer to do something else. Often the weaker, more quiet children can get overwhelmed by the louder children who are ‘playing out’ TV-experiences.

c. Nourish Genuine Curiosity and Willingness to Learn.
 Offer group and individual lessons by asking each child if he/she would like to participate. Only the children who are genuinely interested join the lesson. This way disciplinary issues are minimized, and the teaching remains non-invasive.

d. Let Children Imitate You.
Collaborate with the children’s natural instinct of imitation. Show the new concept or skill as often as needed. Narrate your activity step by step, and give instructions in simple terms. By narrating simultaneously, terminology becomes clear and can be correctly absorbed.

e. Have Time and Patience for Learning Processes.
Steps in the learning process are not seen as mistakes that need to be corrected immediately, but as precious steps in the process of acquiring a new skill. When the child is shown the correct way again, he/she receives a chance to self-correct.

f. Use Non-invasive, Non-manipulative Language.
E.g. Instead of “Look at this house!”, you can say “What do you see?” . Asking friendly questions, accepting a different point of view, and also allowing a child to say “No” to specific things, are inherent parts of respect.

g. Compassion, Empathy and Authentic Communication Instead of Punishments and Rewards.
Punishments can create deep, unforgettable wounds and can condition a child for life. Of course, educators need to state boundaries and expectations. However this can happen in kind ways by informing a child as often as needed, and help re-directing a child’s behavior. Kathryn Kvols developed simple and efficient guidelines for developing healthy relationships with children. Her website “Redirecting Children’s Behavior”