At the heart of Montessori education is the promotion of a child’s independence. There is a wonderful quote from Maria Montessori that says: “The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow and create the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play.” A child who can do many things for themselves is a confident little person who feels like a valued and contributing member of their family and community.
MELODY FOERSTER, principal of Sai Kung Montessori, shares some advice to parents who are looking to foster independence. “For preschoolers, follow the mantra of ‘Help me to do it by myself’. Keeping in mind what is developmentally appropriate, offer assistance only when needed.” She adds that independence can be divided into three main areas; physical, mental and emotional.
“This can include children completing simple tasks by themselves or with minimal assistance – for example, drinking from a cup they are holding, helping to prepare meals, putting laundry into the machine or carrying groceries.”
“A sense of independence comes when children make choices from limited options provided by an adult, like choosing their outfit, what to eat for a snack, which park to go to, what toy they want to play with.”
“Allow your child to feel both positive and negative emotions. We tend to hush screaming and crying children, but they need to explore and experience these emotions while feeling safe and supported. Try acknowledging how they are feeling, provide cuddles and comfort, and then redirect the child towards another activity.”
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This article first appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.