Montessori is renowned for independence. “Help me to help myself” is one of Montessori’s hallmarks but independence need not mean alone or lonely. Maria Montessori explained how a child seeks independence in their natural development and in all aspects of life.
For parents new to Montessori independence can be an emotional word when thinking their young child no longer needs them. However, independence is achieved every time a child can do something for themselves that they previously needed to doing for them e.g. feeding themselves. These acts of independence take bravery and a child needs our encouragement to develop and grow. The support and love of a parent allows a child allows to feel vulnerable yet safe to make mistakes. A child can ask for help or a parent offers just as much help is needed without interfering urges for independence.
Tips to support independence at home
- Trust & Communication. Allow your child to spend time with others that you both are comfortable with and communicate with them at all times on events and emotions.
- Explore Boundaries. Encourage your child to explore their limits but with healthy supervision e.g. allow them to climb the climbing frame as far as they are comfortable but be at hand without being over protective.
- Scaffold Skills. Build up skills over time so a child becomes incrementally independent e.g. allow a child more involvement in preparing a snack step by step.
- Growth Mindset. Embrace success and mistakes without praise, judgment or punishment. Support your child through difficult and challenging times seeing mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Remember Montessori isn't always independent
It is very common for a child to struggle with independence at times and often they seek a parent’s support more than usual. Consider some of these helpful pointers:
- Encouragement. Sometimes a verbal reminder is sufficient e.g. "I saw you pour your drink earlier. Would you like to try now?”
- Space & Time. Remember not to rush in with assistance. Offer ample time for a child to attempt an activity.
- Connection. A child struggling with independence is often calling out for connection. Offering more one-to-one time and comfort can ground a child. Thereafter they are often more comfortable to attempt tasks by themselves.
- Prepared Environment. Observe your child in the environment and consider if there is anything obstructing their development and independence.