The spring months are an extra busy time here at Charlotte Montessori School. In addition to the normal routines of each classroom, we also open our doors to prospective parents for observations. It is during this time they can begin to picture their children in a Montessori environment. As I check in with the parents during the observations to see if they have any questions, I find the thing most frequently asked is, “How do you discipline?”. The prospective parents note the calm environment and want to know how we handle the times of conflict throughout the day.
Recently Ms. Nikki (Toddler II) and I hosted a parent education workshop on this very topic called “Positive Discipline”. During this hour long workshop we detailed how we use limit setting and mutual respect to create inner discipline in each child.
We referenced our role models Maria Montessori, Magda Gerber and Janet Lansbury throughout the workshop as they helped define discipline in a way that is respectful to the children.
“Discipline must come through liberty…We do not consider an individual disciplined only when he has been rendered as artificially silent as a mute and as immovable as a paralytic. He is an individual annihilated, not disciplined.” – Maria Montessori
“Training that develops self-control and character.” – Magda Gerber
“Educating our children to learn appropriate behavior, values and how to control impulses.” – Janet Lansbury
We discussed using natural consequences instead of punishments. For example:
If you do not brush your teeth now we will not have time to read a book before bed (natural consequence)
If you do not brush your teeth now you will have to sit in time out (punishment)
The most important part of our approach to discipline in the Montessori environment, is to set appropriate limits based on the age and development of the children and then make sure we stick to those limits. For the toddler classrooms our limits include respecting oneself, the other children and the works. Once the children know the limits they become comfortable in the environment as they always know what to expect.