“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” - Maria Montessori
Branton is a four year-old member of our Primary (3-6 year-old) classroom environment and practicing his independence each day. He loves basketball, his dad (who “can lift a car with one hand - really!”), and visiting the beach with his mom. We asked him a little about his days at GSMS.
Branton, what is your favorite thing to do at school?
Go outside to play!
When it’s time to go outside to play, what happens?
You have to get your coat on, your gloves on, your hat on, your shoes on, your pants on, your socks on, your underwear on… He dissolves into four year-old giggles.
That’s a lot to do! Branton, who puts all of those things on you?
NOBODY! Sometimes my arm gets stuck in my shirt when I get dressed for school, but that was when I was LITTLE.
After you’re all dressed to go out, what do you like to do on the playground?
Swing! Somebody pushes me first, but then I pump my legs and go higher and higher and higher all by myself.
That sounds like fun! And like a lot of work, too. Branton, what happens when you get hungry in the classroom from all that hard work?
I say, “Let’s eat now!” I wash my hands, and then I peel an egg. That’s my favorite food work.
You mean, a grown-up doesn’t make your snack for you?
With a slightly amused look, No! I wash my dishes by myself, so I can make my own snack - EASY!
“I do it myself!” What parent of a toddler hasn’t heard these words? Montessori recognizes that the young child is not speaking defiantly but actually following her natural internal drive to develop her independence. A practiced goal of Montessori education is to support the child’s growth in independence of thought and action.
Help me help myself. One of our tasks as educators at GSMS is to create an environment where the child can practice independence free of interference, experience failure without shame or anxiety, and eventually find his hard-earned success. This ranges from personal tasks, such as the Primary child’s ability to select and put on rain boots on a muddy day, to the older child’s challenge of deeply understanding a complex mathematical concept or social problem.
The goal of independence in a Montessori student is to help the child love the focused process of solving a problem, regardless of difficulty, with enthusiasm and joy. At Good Shepherd Montessori School, we believe that independence empowers life-long learners to seek creative, fresh solutions to tomorrow’s questions.