The Language of Independence

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to all the parents who took the time out of their busy schedules to attend our parent education evenings. These are such great opportunities for us to connect and discuss as a school community. This fall, at both Christie and Sorauren, the teachers spoke about the “Language for Independence.”  The Sorauren campus teachers also spoke about “Montessori: Work or Play?” The article “Playful Learning and Montessori Education” by Angeline S. Lillard is available for download at the bottom of this post.

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Independent Action

A previous blog post (click here to read it) touched upon some tools for independence found in our prepared classrooms – child sized furniture, purposeful and accessible materials, and numerous opportunities to participate in day to day activities. It also showcased a few ideas for home.  Consistency in routines and expectations help children act independently; it is often the first step to “help me to help myself.”

To go hand in hand with these, the language we use to communicate these expectations/routines with children is critical. Below are a few examples of phrases to encourage independent action:

With that said, sometimes the best thing to say is nothing or to limit the amount of superfluous communication. We aim to protect moments of concentration and focus, to avoid interruptions – to give children time to accomplish tasks as they are engrossed in them. In the classrooms, we encourage children to notice when their peers are busy at work and how to appropriately engage and observe.

We must allow children the time and opportunities to do for themselves, but remain available to assist when needed.

Independent Thought

To go hand in hand with being able to do for themselves, we strive for independence of the whole child; the aim is for children to be independent thinkers, strong individuals who are able to problem solve and adapt to situations as they arise.

Some Helpful Open-Ended Questions/Statements to Encourage Independent Thought:

Independence can look different at various stages of a child’s life. It is our task as educators and parents to allow this to flourish through our actions, our demeanour, our language, and the opportunities we provide children.

The child’s development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him. We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself.

Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 257

Further Reading:

Playful Learning and Montessori Education by Angeline Lillard

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk – a blog post and summary by Simone Davies

Siblings Without Rivalry – a blog post and summary by Simone Davies 

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