It was the belief of Maria Montessori that “If we could say, ‘We are respectful and courteous in our dealing with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,’ we should have mastered a great educational principle and be setting an example of good education.” Discipline, like any other facet of a Montessori classroom, requires respect for each child.
A Montessori classroom is designed to provide a balance of freedom, structure, and discipline to each student. Seasoned Montessori educators often say that finding and keeping this balance is one of the biggest challenges of teaching. Mastering this concept is also one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Montessori teacher. With a foundation of freedom and structure, a child finds their own way to discipline.
The concept of freedom in the classroom is something that many parents are initially uncomfortable with. This is probably due to the fact that the word “freedom” is not commonly associated with discipline. It is a common misconception that because a child is free to choose their work and how they learn, that discipline must be an alien concept in a Montessori classroom. On the contrary, the freedom of choice comes with the responsibility of that choice. Kids are much more likely to make good choices when they are given the opportunity to be independent and live as a valued part of a community. Children learn to govern themselves in the Montessori setting by watching the examples of others and finding pride in their work.
Lack of routine and structure is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to a child’s misbehavior. When a child steps into a Montessori classroom, they know what to expect. They know where each learning station is and where to find each material. They know what is expected of them and that their purpose in the classroom is to learn and grow. Each classroom and learning activity is meticulously designed and organized with structure in mind. When a child sticks to a routine, they tend to be more relaxed and confident. An anxious and insecure child is much more likely to act out and misbehave.
What is the role of the teacher in all of this? If discipline comes from within, what is the purpose of the Montessori educator? It is understood in a Montessori classroom that a child cannot and will not be able to listen and obey rules right off the bat. Inner discipline is something that evolves over time. It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide nurturing guidance and a structured, unchanging example. When a child knows what to expect from their peers and teacher, they learn quickly what is expected of them.
A Montessori education is centered on independence. This is the same when it comes to discipline. Children are free to learn in a way that is not stressful and demanding. Rules are kept simple, straightforward, and it becomes immediately apparent to each child that following the rules benefits them personally. Like any other aspect of a Montessori classroom, discipline is an enriching experience.
Admn March 24th, 2017