The Montessori Approach to Disciplining a Child

The Montessori Approach to Disciplining a Child

Introduction

Children are a wonderful blessing entrusted to parents, teachers, guardians and the society to cherish. Raising a child is a wonderful role replete with joy and challenges in equal measure. A child needs disciplining from time to time. 

Parents around the world employ different ways of disciplining their children. The approach taken usually depends on the parents’ upbringing, culture and religious beliefs as well as personal opinion on the issue. 

Parents who want to learn new ways of disciplining children should apply the Montessori approach

   The Montessori Approach To Disciplining A Child

What does the Montessori approach entail? 

Generally, it entails finding the balance between discipline and freedom. It revolves around the understanding that children need their freedom. That freedom should not be curtailed simply because a parent or teacher wants the young one to grow up disciplined. 

Finding that balance – and maintaining it – can be the real challenge. The approach borrows heavily from Maria Montessori’s philosophy. She believed that adults should treat children the way they would like to be treated. She advocated treating children respectfully. 

Parents have to respect children if this approach is to produce the desired results. 

Adults should discipline their children using this approach consistently. Do not be afraid of repeating yourself. Here, repetition is the key. Exercise patience instead of jumping out of your skin if you see no change in your child’s behaviour. 

It takes time for some of these lessons to stick to the children’ minds. 

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Environment

It's in the planning

Prepare the environment

The Montessori approach encourages parents to focus on creating the sort of environment that enables children to learn to behave properly. Adults cannot leave this to chance. They must proactively design their children’s environment. 

Freedom is crucial in a child’s life. Therefore, adults have to find ways of allowing children as much freedom as they need to experiment and make mistakes. This would only be possible in the right environment though. 

Giving children the freedom to experiment and make mistakes teaches them many lessons too. 

Teach children the importance of doing important chores. For example, train them to clean the spaces they use. Let them know that you expect them to clean any mess they leave behind. Buy a few child accessible rags and supplies the children need to do their part. 

  Prepare the environment

Model appropriate behaviour in the environment

Children learn a lot from the adults around them. For this reason, learn to model good behaviour. Let the little ones see you doing what you always advise them to do. Let them see you behaving well within the environment you created. 

Let them see you cleaning up any mess you create. 

Allow them to clean their mess too. Start teaching them responsibility early. Children are more likely to behave properly when they are trained to be responsible from an early age. Do not wait until they are in their teens to embark on these lessons. 

We believe that every action has a reaction; it is a contrast that lets the child learn and understand resiliency.

Children learn from their mistakes and it is okay for them to start all over again when something doesn’t work. Their exercise of inappropriate behaviour and learning its consequences is what helps them understand how to go further and to be able to recognize and choose differently the next time.

Even with all the work – know that there will still be mistakes

But does that mean the Montessori approach guarantees disciplined children? No. You will still have children making inappropriate choices. The difference here is they will be learning respect. They will see you treating them respectfully hence likely to treat others the same way. 

Distraction

At the end of the day, you will have to judge the situation yourself. 

The question comes – should we as parents or guardians raise voices at our children? Remembering that the Montessori approach advocates treating children the way you want to be treated – the philosophy and methods advocate against such tactics.

Instead, we recommend that it is better to use the curiosity within the child to inspire appropriate behaviour. That also allows you an opportunity to gain control over the situation. Bring out an issue that’s likely to raise the child’s curiosity. This way, the young one will stop focusing on and displaying inappropriate behaviour. 

Ultimately, you have to distract the child while helping them refocus on the most important lessons, values, tasks or work. Once again, like was the case with increasing curiosity, the goal is to help the little ones to focus on what is more important rather than their inappropriate behaviour.   This can be done by bringing out a simple new activity that you know that they are fond of.  Or singing their favourite song or reading their book out loud.  Again, this takes more work than simply yelling at the child, but it allows for far better results on the behaviour and development of the child over the long-term.

Related article: Montessori Activities For Toddlers At Home

Separating the child from the group or activity until nerves become calm again

There are times when nothing may work, and the child may truly be unhappy and be modelling really negative behaviour.  In such situations, our approach to helping children “reset” also requires separating the child from a specific group or activity that has brought about the negative behavior. This approach may be appropriate depending on the situation. 

Allow children to return to the group or activity once their nerves are calm. 

Additionally, consider reconnecting these young minds with purposeful work. What this achieves is to allow the children an opportunity to make good social decisions on their own, especially if they started displaying negative behavior while in the company of their friends. 

  Separating the child from the group or activity until nerves become calm again

Individual discussion

The Montessori approach recommends taking time to speak with your little ones too. Talk with each child individually. Teach them about actions and consequences. Help them understand the consequences of their actions. Let them understand that good behaviour is capable of leading to something equally good. 

It is good to let children know the positive outcomes that await them down the line every time they act. Give them freedom to make their own decisions, and reward them with something they love doing. For example, assure them of a trip to the local park happens if we make time for it.  Talk to them about the consequences of the decisions if they work with you to finish whatever you have planned now.  An example would be finishing dinner and putting dishes away, so time can be made to go to the park before it gets dark. 

Let them know they have a choice on any issue you assign them.  It empowers them.  It helps them feel like they are contributing and have some control – which does wonders for their development. However, there is a reward for choosing to behave well and consequences for falling short. Allow them to understand these rewards and consequences respectfully so they understand their roles in all of these. 

It goes without saying but we need to communicate with them without yelling, screaming, and shouting, nagging or doing the things that would often get under your skin if somebody else were to do them to us. It takes time to learn these lessons but they will make you better at disciplining your children. 

The Montessori approach makes the child feel like their actions are helping others (and themselves) towards something bigger.  It allows them to focus in the present, contribute and stay calm.  Ultimately, making them into self-directed individuals that behave nicely and do not require ‘discipline’.  

This approach helps in raising children who are independent and free, but within boundaries. 

They understand the boundaries. They appreciate that going over those boundaries would mean being denied some of the privileges or activities they are accustomed to in their lives. To a doubting eye, this approach can appear excessively free or chaotic.  However, our whole philosophy at Kaban is based on using such approaches to help raise and care for children at our school.  We fundamentally believe children should not be mistreated and allowed an environment that gives them the freedom to struggle and grow at their own individual pace to reach their potential.

To Recap

The Montessori approach recommends a different way of disciplining children. You may have to forget some of the approaches you have learned and used throughout your life. Be ready to embrace a new way of doing things. 

The rewards go beyond raising well-behaved children. It teaches children to think through their actions and decisions before proceeding. They learn to start examining their behaviours early thus increasing the likelihood of growing into responsible, mature adults. 

The Montessori approach uses the “freedom with limits” philosophy. 

Under the Montessori philosophy of education, true disciple starts from within. Here, the philosophy presupposes that discipline is the result of developing inner growth steadily over a certain period. 

Under Montessori, discipline is not something you do to a child. It’s also not something or technique that you use to control a child’s behaviour. The goal here is to help a child understand self-control and discipline enough to display it without feeling pressured to do so.

Montessori Activities for Toddlers at Home

Montessori Activities for Toddlers at Home

The same principles and ideas that make the Montessori classroom a fulfilling and calming environment for toddlers can be brought to your home. Though the home and classroom are two different entities, continuing on with the same environment will have remarkable benefits for your child—plus, these Montessori activities for toddlers at home are fun, easy, and effective! After all, all these activities are inspired by the Montessori phrase, “Help me do it by myself.”

Mindfulness in Children

Mindfulness in Children

Life is never truly simple—though adults seem to forget that as they grow up. Children face numerous stressors and challenges throughout their youth, such as going to a school they might not like, facing bullies, following unsavory rules, or witnessing abusive relationships and other traumas. With the pressure to excel being placed on children at an early point in their lives, it is no wonder many develop anxiety and depression and know nothing about how to manage it. Teaching mindfulness to children is one way to help children cope with stress and promote a peaceful mindset.

Top 10 Parent tips when on road trips

Top 10 Parent tips when on road trips

With millions of Canadians on the road during festive periods, summer camps and holidays, road trips are almost a staple in the holiday culture that every Parent would most likely experience once in a lifetime.

How Screen Time Impacts Early Childhood Development

How Screen Time Impacts Early Childhood Development

As anyone who follows the Montessori educational model will agree: Children are creatures of pure imagination and play. At Kaban Montessori School in Mississauga, we ensure that we create an environment to foster growth, independence, and imagination.  Curious minds can see the world without leaving the safety of the room. With the flexibility to let their curiosity guide them, children can learn on their own if their minds are allowed to roam. Yet, with the rise of co-dependency on technology, children are becoming less and less aware of their imaginative powers and potentially receiving negative influences from too much screen time.

Good Nutrition for Kids

Good Nutrition for Kids

Parents always want the best to happen for their children, and good nutrition is no exception. What your child eats today will have a lasting impact on their health tomorrow. This is because, eating healthy can enhance the growth and development of your child’s physical and mental capabilities, while also warding off potential health issues such as eating disorders, dental cavities, deficiencies, obesity and others.

Montessori vs. Traditional Schooling

Montessori vs. Traditional Schooling

Selecting the right school and education methodology for your child is a very important decision.  As parents, we are all crunched for time and can use a little help in understanding which teaching style is best for our children.  When the time comes to choose which school to select for your child, there are two main teaching methodologies to consider: Montessori Schooling or Traditional Schooling.

We get it; it can be difficult to really assess and evaluate the differences in Montessori schooling versus Traditional schooling in a thorough manner when you have so much information to consider from various sources.  Good research will require you to search on the internet, talk to family and friends or colleagues.  Once you have a few options to consider, you will then likely need to tour the short-listed school facilities, evaluate the curriculum, the structure, the environment and interview the teachers.  As you can see, this is not an easy decision and has a lot of factors to consider and that means there is a lot that can be missed.

However, the first thing you need to decide is which teaching style works best for your family and which one will give your little ones the environment and the head start to get ahead in life.  Therefore, to make sure that you are better informed when you go to visit schools, interview the teachers and evaluate the programs, we have created a detailed breakdown below comparing the Montessori Method to the Traditional Schooling Method and you can use this as a basic check when you start researching schools. Bookmark this blog post and make sure you read it before you visit schools to help ask informed questions and make the right decision for your family.

How to select the right teaching method for your child

1)      Learning Approach

Traditional schools begin preschool and Kindergarten years with play-based learning and as children progress to higher years, learning is reinforced through repetition, rewards, and punishments. In Traditional schools, the main mode of learning is generally auditory and visual, while the pace is kept the same for all children in the same year.

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Learning approaches

Montessori vs. Traditional schooling

On the other hand, the Montessori learning approach provides a well-rounded arena where not only educating and growing intellectually is a priority but physical, emotional and moral development is also front and center. Montessori learning is multi-sensory, i.e. visual, auditory and kinesthetic, meaning a wider range of children can benefit from these learning methods. Children also move at their own pace while learning and are encouraged to move forward by building their own internal sense of success as compared to only a grading system or rewards and punishments.  The Montessori approach also uses sets of dedicated materials such as objects, shapes, games to help the younger children in their learning journey.

2)      Structure

Traditional schooling depends on standardized curriculum and most children are fit into structured learning frameworks and generally required to complete school years within these frameworks. The Montessori approach treats each child as an individual, with individualistic learning needs. Hence, with the Montessori approach curriculums are personalized and the teacher is the helping guide that encourages growth and learning. This way each child can learn and grow independently without being forced to follow rigid structures that may not be suitable based on his or her learning requirements. The Montessori approach also provides a major focus on collaboration with peers of different ages and makes this collaboration a part of the learning process. Peer collaboration, especially between children of varying ages, is not a common practice in the Traditional schooling system.

3)      Age Groups

According to the requirements of the law in Canada – children must enroll in a school by the age of 5 or 6.  You can find out the exact details on the requirements to enroll your children for school on the Government of Canada Website.   However, in Traditional schools kindergarten can be started at age 4.   Before that, children either must go to daycare/preschool, stay at home with their guardian(s) or enroll in a Montessori school.  At Montessori schools, children as young as, or even younger than one year of age can enroll and start benefiting from the Montessori methods and techniques that teach them to become independent and confident at a very young age.  

 In Montessori, schooling for the child begins at an earlier age vs. traditional schools.

In Montessori, schooling for the child begins at an earlier age vs. traditional schools.

For example, Kaban Montessori School’s Infant and Toddler Program enrolls children between the ages of 6 months to 2.5 years. Given children can start so early in the Montessori program and are also allowed to experience mixed age groupings from the onset, this enables Montessori students to experience a more enriched environment compared to a Traditional school or Daycare. Generally, in Traditional pre-schools and elementary programs, each child is only placed in an environment with peers born in the same year. 

As mentioned above, peer collaboration is an important aspect of the Montessori approach. Children are allowed and able to mingle with peers of mixed ages, enabling the younger ones to learn from the older ones and giving the older children the confidence to peer mentor their younger classmates. This experience benefits both the younger and the older children by providing them the unique opportunity of learning and playing with classmates at different developmental stages.  This unique learning experience is not a part of the Traditional schooling system, where classmates are generally of the same age. Montessori is definitely unique in this area, as classmate can belong to varying age groups with potentially an age gap of up to three separate grades, and this method does not fit within the strict rigors of the Traditional schooling system and curriculum.

4)      Secondary Language

There have been countless studies done to show the positive effects of being multi-lingual for brain development.  Being multi-lingual also has a positive effect on maintaining a healthy brain for the later part of our lives; so giving our kids a head start is vital for longer-term health and development benefits as mentioned in this BBC Article, “Learning second language ‘slows brain ageing’”, where the research mentioned in this article was originally published in the Annals of Neurology. The Montessori approach at Kaban Montessori School provides an early start on developing secondary language skills. Children who are bilingual benefit not only cognitively i.e. better attention span and multi-tasking skills but also go on to have better social and career opportunities in the future.  Please take a look at this article published by the BBC News to further understand the positive effects of bilingualism in children.

The Montessori structure at Kaban Montessori School provides an environment which naturally helps children develop and integrate French and Spanish into their everyday lives. Kaban Montessori is unique in providing children an environment that allows for more than 2 languages to be taught as part of its curriculum.  Children are not just taught to read or understand the second languages on paper but learn how to use it in everyday life situations. Traditional schooling generally begins French schooling in Grade 4 and French Immersion schools begin at the Junior Kindergarten level. However, in our Montessori environment, we begin our French classes at the age of 3.               

5)      Approach to Discipline

In Traditional schools, discipline is attained through the teacher’s direction and with rewards and punishments.  This can be a hit or miss depending on your child’s personality and whether receiving punishments for undesired behavior truly helps your child learn and correct their behavior. However, the Montessori approach is more holistic, as it requires discipline to be attained through active participation and natural consequences of the child’s actions. Which means, your child will learn to see their own mistakes and the consequences without having a constant external source pointing out the undesired behaviors or mistakes. This way children move forward in their lives without expecting discipline to be continuously forced externally.  They truly learn how to manage their behavior based on the consequences of their actions.

6)      Approach to Manners

This area of focus is again unique to Montessori schools, as the Montessori environment enables children to develop self-disciplining skills, promotes social graces and manners at school and at home. In Traditional schools, manners and graces are generally not taught and students are expected to only learn these at home. Learning mannerism at schools enables our youth to excel in social situations and down the road in their professional lives as well. And besides social benefits, these skills make our children more empathic and kind community members.

7)      Error Handling Approach

Through Montessori learning, children are taught skills and given tools that help them develop an internal mechanism for handling errors and mistakes. Children use self-correcting materials which also promote self-discovery, correction, and independence. Traditional schooling depends on the teachers to highlight and bring forward errors and how to correct said errors, this approach does not promote independent learning and confidence.   

Key Takeaways

Here is a simple, but effective summary info-graphic to help you remember the above more easily as well:

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Conclusion

We know you want what is best for your child (we do as we are parents as well) and we want to help you make the best decision for your precious little ones.  Selecting the right school and teaching style is not easy and hopefully, the above detailed and high-level summaries will help you in your journey in finding the best school for your child.

For more information on what are the differences in teaching methods, please reach out and we will help in any way we can!  Good luck in finding the right school 😊!.