Freedom, Discipline and Behaviour Management in the Montessori classroom.


"When the child is given freedom to move about in a world of objects, he is naturally inclined to perform the tasks necessary for his development entirely on his own." M.Montessori "Education and Peace"



Elements of freedom and discipline in the Montessori classroom.

Obviously, no one can be completely free while they are depended. Manifestations of the desire for independence can be observed early in child's life. Freedom and independence are intertwined - independence is essential for freedom. The teacher's task is to remove obstacles on the way to independence.

Identity of a child can only  be formed in the process of his "work". In the Montessori classroom, at first child gains freedom as an individual and then it grows into ability to be a part of community. This freedom comes from within and manifests as self-control. It is important to emphasize that the child commits positive behaviour and positive actions not due to the external reinforcement and rewards. The child gains inner satisfaction from performing positive actions due to his nature. The child does not need external validation of his actions from others as he is able to form personal judgement of his actions. It means external rewards or punishment are not necessary.

Elements of freedom in the Montessori classroom.


"Without freedom it is impossible for personality to develop fully.Freedom is the key to the entire process, and the first step comes when the when the individual is capable of acting without help from others and becomes aware of himself as an autonomous being." M. Montessori Education and Peace

1. Freedom of choice. Allowing the child to have freedom of choice is a demonstration of respect for the child's development.  Desire to have freedom to choose is driven by: 

- will to gain experience
- the teacher who connects child to the environment and material. 
- gaining more knowledge

The child is eager to try to experiment with everything in the classroom. The fact that the child makes their own choice of work is very significant, since it is his DECISION. It is not easy to make a decision, it requires inner motivation and inner work.


2. Freedom to "work". As it was mentioned before, personality forms through the process of work. The prepared environment offers wide range of specific activities that promote freedom of work. Work is a foundation of freedom because work requires the child to follow certain rules and directions. Freedom does not mean the child can do what they please. Freedom is understanding rules and limits for actions. (For example, putting work back on the shelf after completing it gives freedom to choose next activity). Allowing the child to do whatever he likes before he gains self-control destroys the idea of freedom.


3 Freedom of time.
There is no timetable for lessons in the Montessori classroom. The child is allowed to work with the material as long as they want to and at their own pace. Often the child likes to do the same activity over and over again. It allows him to build deeper concentration in the process of continuous repetition.  In addition, it encourages child to develop stronger character, since he has more time to keep trying until he works it out. It also helps to for ability to overcome challenges.

4. Freedom of movement.

Every work with the material in the classroom involves movement. The child is not forced to sit and listen. He is free to observe, then to work independently. In addition, the child is able to move freely without disturbing others' work.

5. Freedom to eat and drink. 

The Montessori classroom always has a place where the child can have a snack or a drink at any time he wishes.

6. Freedom of communication and interaction.

The children are free to work together upon mutual agreement if it does not destruct others work. 


7. Freedom to help each other.

Elements of discipline in the Montessori classroom.

1. There is only one type of each material in the classroom (there is only one Pink Tower or Red Rod activity). 
It has a few benefits:
- the work becomes special
- it develops patience since child has to wait for his tern
- it develops respect for others 


2. The child has to return work back where he found it after completing working with it as an expression of respect for the other children.

Work is not considered finished util material is put back on it's original place. 

3. Every material has a purpose and meaning.

The child is welcome to experiment with material as long as it fits it's purpose. For example, the child can create various shapes using the Red Rods, but should not use those as a pretend gun. Sometimes teacher allows certain child's experiments, unless those experiments can hurt other children or the environment. Then it has to be 
immediately stopped.


Behaviour management.
Maria Montessori believed that misbehaviour originates from child's environment, his circumstances and surroundings: …defects in character, disappear of themselves…One does not need to threaten or cajole, but only to 'normalizing the conditions' under which the child lives." (Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child)
This on it's own an incredibly deep topic.

In the Montessori environment behaviour management is done in the form of redirecting and gluing. You can read more about it in this article: Gluing and Redirecting Behavior in the Montessori Classroom
"With careful observations, "earnest words", spontaneous work, commitment to the Montessori philosophy and principles, the Montessori teacher is able to successfully redirect and refocus student behavior...
Gluing is when the teacher keeps a child close to her before inviting the child to find an appropriate work.
It gives the child time to refocus and observe others working in the Montessori classroom. It is a way to re-center and calm themselves so that they may work effectively in the classroom."




Here is a list of Montessori books that might help you with your Montessori journey:


Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful: Preventing Exclusion in the Early Elementary Classroom


"Charting the progress of twelve children in a real Texas classroom, educator Donna Goertz shows how positive change can occur given the proper environment. In each case she describes a child's transformation from destructive troublemaker to responsible citizen of the classroom community. Readers will learn how to apply Montessori methods to virtually any early elementary environment".






Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School Years 


"Claim quality togetherness with your child and fully enjoy the sensitive and formative years from two to five by adopting proven teaching techniques in your own home. This acclaimed guide puts the entire range of the Montessori system within your reach, so you can make the most of your child's vital years"







Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from Birth to Adulthood 

"Paula Lillard, director of a Montessori school ranging in age from 18 months to fifteen years, provides a clear and cogent introduction to the Montessori program for the elementary and later years. In detailed accounts, Lillard shows how children acquire the skills to answer their own questions, learn to manage freedom with responsibility, and maintain a high level of intellectual stimulation by using the Montessori method. This is an essential handbook for parents and teachers who have chosen the Montessori alternative for the older child".




Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+


"Imagine a Montessori text in your home library which guides your putting together a child¹s corner in every room according to the same principles used by Montessori educators for more than a century. Activities are described to match your child¹s precise ages and stages providing authentic environments for choice and stimulating engagement. This little book can change your life with its practical wisdom. It will help you create conditions favorable to peaceful coexistence".




Reference: Russian Montessori Society 

Anastasia, Montessori Nature

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