Independence is one of the cornerstones of the Montessori philosophy. It is common (and was common even 100 years ago) for children to announce “I do it myself.” Dr Montessori saw and heard this need of children and made that a paramount goal of her philosophy. She beautifully states “The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be.” How can we support and guide the child in this innate need for independence?
To begin the journey towards independence, the teachers allow the child freedom while providing guidance to independently chose work. This may be in the form of offering a suggestion, giving a lesson, or choosing a work for the child. Validating his choices gives him the confidence he needs for his independence.
Within the work cycle of independently making choices, the works are set up in the classroom to promote: Concentration, coordination, order and independence. So, one of the direct aims for every work includes guiding the child towards independence. Each work is prepared with everything the child needs on the tray or in the basket. The child is then free and capable of completing the work without adult interaction. Additionally, we utilize many self-correcting works. These works allow the child to see direct feedback from the material, rather than having to rely on the teacher to show him his mistakes.
The environment also provides many avenues for the child to act without the help of a teacher. Some of these simple ideas can be incorporated at home to additionally promote independence.
Taking care of his own belongings…unpacking his lunch, utilizing his cubbie for keeping things together.
Much thought goes into the placement of the child’s mat storage, so the child can be responsible for retrieving his own mat at rest time.
Scissors are available for the child to open snacks and lunch items.
Pictures are utilized for the child to readily find his storage.
Take a step back and look at your home through your child’s eye. Is he able to accomplish tasks without your help? What can you do to promote that?