The Montessori classroom fosters independence. Maria Montessori observed a drive in a child to do things on their own. We recognize that drive by providing safe opportunities for exercising it. Independence does not mean abandoning the child to their own devices. Fostering independence in Montessori classroom happens through showing a child how to use carefully prepared environment, providing tools for the self-mastery which in turn builds self-confidence and self-esteem.
Children can only construct themselves. An adult is there to assist in their sacred work by providing just enough guidance and assistance where it does not become hindrance to their development. We should always give them reasonable choices- ensuring they cannot get hurt. We should always provide them with self-mastery objects that they can handle (each child is different), we should show them how, then give them time and an accessible environment.
Giving a child the opportunity to master self-care, caring for the environment or a new skill should always be in the area of their personal ability for success and not so difficult so as to become frustrating. At home we can help a child by allowing them to start with small chores that are thought out with their personal ‘range of success’ in mind. Slowly we can make those chores more complex; all the while observing their comfort level and sense of accomplishment. We praise, but very carefully. Building one’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment should come from realization of one’s own powers (abilities) not from pleasing others. Creating routines into a day are good building blocks for future of security and knowing how to help one-self. Independence, ultimately, helps one become a confident adult who can make good decisions on their own that are based on their reality. We help a child accomplish this, by realizing that the time to gently nurture their independence is while they are still small.
-Saša Sokolovic, DMA PEN Newsletter, January 2017