Fostering independence is one of our biggest goals in a Montessori classroom. Maria Montessori believed that even the youngest of children are saying, “Help me to do it by myself!”
Here are 4 specific things we can do to help children become more independent:
1. Prepare the classroom – Children can access the entire classroom by themselves and do not need an adult by their sides at all times.
2. Take time for teaching – We, as Montessori teachers, slow down our movements for the child to be able to observe what we are doing. We do this almost silently, so the child only has to watch and not need to listen as well.
3. Allow time – We give the child time to do something for his or herself. Children will undoubtedly take longer to do something new than any adult can do. When we rush in and do the task in our competent and quick manner, we may send the message to the child that they are not capable.
4. Be patient and kind with mistakes – It takes time and practice to learn a new skill and we believe mistakes are an opportunity to learn. To succeed, we must fail first. This is true for children and adults.
When children are allowed to do for themselves and for others, they develop a true sense of self-confidence and accomplishment.