Offering opportunities for independence is a cornerstone of education at Fiore. Dr.Montessori famously said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed”. But what exactly does independence in the classroom look like?
In our toddler environments, adults collaborate with the children as they build the skills, coordination, and strength they will need in order to gain more independence in their daily lives. Pretty quickly, children have gained enough skill to carry out many forms of independence including pulling their pants up or down, using the toilet, putting on shoes, choosing work, washing their hands at the sink, and eating and cleaning up their snack or lunch. After some time, children in the toddler community are washing dishes, baking bread, and caring for the plants in their environment.
In primary, adults offer less collaboration and instead rely on modeling behaviors and skills for the child. The adults in the environment slow down, exaggerating the movements and sequences children need to know in order to complete independent tasks. During these lessons, speaking is kept to a minimum in order to allow the child to focus on watching the movements of the guide. Children in a primary classroom often become almost fully responsible for the maintenance of the morning work cycle. They can prepare snack, load the dishwasher, wash cloths, care for plants and pets, dress and undress themselves, dust shelves, set tables for lunch, and keep materials clean and tidy. Maria Montessori once said that the goal is for the classroom to run as though the adults are not even there!
Once a child is in elementary, they have gained many skills and have become much more independent than they were at age 2 or 4. Our elementary environments enable independence through trust and responsibility. An elementary child will often have a daily job to help maintain the classroom. They are given the responsibility of planning and implementing fundraisers for events they would like to partake in. They might make their own Christmas gifts, plan and implement their own projects, or be responsible for calling and making a reservation for a class camping trip.
Although independence may look slightly different during each age and stage of development, the goal is to always enable the child to reach their full potential. How do you support your child's independence at home?