Updated: May 10, 2020
Step inside any Montessori setting and it is abundant with freedom of choice within limits; free flow outdoor play, free access to water and snacks, open play and book shelves, choice to work on the floor or at a table. This shouldn’t stop at home. There are so many ways you can weave choices into your child’s life no matter their age. My son is approaching 18 months so most of his choices revolve around choosing clothes to wear (offer a selection of 2-3 options), plates for dinner, fruit for after dinner, books and toys – presented in open shelves.
People often misunderstand the Montessori approach as allowing kids to do what they like when they like but that isn’t the case. If care is taken in setting up the environment in the right way, then the child will have safety built in and will be empowered by the freedom to do things that fulfil their inner needs and stage of development.
In having the freedom to choose their own work, what and where they play, children are developing a genuine interest and confidence in following their inner guide. With this comes an inner sense of satisfying their need for independence from which children reap countless benefits, all building the foundations for their adult life where we subconsciously have to make decisions every day – some more important than others.
As your child matures, as a parent, you can be assured that your child will act on logic having made choices when it was safe and supported in their early years.
Still not convinced? Here are just a few of the benefits:
Builds confidence in future decision making.
Drives independent thinking
Encourages active and creative learning as opposed to passive – If children are having to follow instructions all day long they will stop thinking for themselves. Through choice they are seeking out ideas, exploring ways of doing things and learning to think for themselves
Feeling a sense of satisfaction and pride knowing they made the choice independently.
Builds self-esteem in seeing themselves as a capable decision makers.
Trust in themselves so in later life they trust their own judgement instead of relying on others
Self-control and the process of making decisions encourages children to evaluate options and consider pros and cons of choices
Respectful parenting - as a parent or carer we are showing our respect for the child's thoughts and opinions that they are valued and in doing so they will do the same to others