Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston, Texas. Child care Montessori provider in Champions, The Woodlands, Spring Texas Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston
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From Maria Montessori in The Absorbent Mind: “For the essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s own self. The philosophical concept which underlies the successive conquest of independence is this: That man achieves his independence by making efforts. To be able to do a thing without any help from others, this is independence. If it exists, the child can progress rapidly; if it does not, his progress will be slow. With these ideas in mind, we can see how the child must be treated. Although our natural inclinations are all toward helping him in his endeavors, Montessori philosophy teaches us never to give more help than is absolutely necessary. The child who wants to walk by himself must be allowed to try, because what strengthens any developing power is practice, and practice is still needed after the basic power has been attained. If a child is always carried in someone’s arms, his development is not being helped but hindered. Directly after independence has been reached, the adult who keeps on helping becomes an obstacle. It is clear that we must not carry the child about, but let him walk, and if his hand wishes to work we must provide him with things on which he can exercise an intelligent activity. His own actions are what take the little one along the road to independence.”

There is a lovely story in a classic Montessori film about the child who was watching a butterfly break out of its chrysalis. The child watched patiently for a while but then could no longer sit idly by, and he reached out to free the struggling butterfly. For a minute the butterfly sat on the child’s finger, but when the butterfly tried to fly, it fluttered helplessly because its wings had not been strengthened by the struggle to emerge. The butterfly fell to the ground and died. In our classrooms, we constantly guard against the urge to help our little ones, understanding that much help is actually a hindrance. The rules in our classrooms are:

• Never correct. Only help the child toward positive action.

• Expect the child to do things slowly, even badly. When the child asks for help, give only constructive help to show him how. Do not do for the child what he should learn to do for himself. Your purpose is to show the child how to learn. It may take a long time.

• Help the child do things she should not or cannot do for herself, such as get materials from a high shelf, lift something too heavy for her, or loosen a knot that is too tight.

• Be patient. Do not show disapproval or anger.

Like all simple things, these are harder to do than they seem. But for the strength and the competence that we want for our little ones, we must.