Choice, Freedom, and Learning in the Montessori Classroom

The Montessori philosophy values the individual child. That’s not to say other educational environments don’t value the student too. But in Montessori classrooms, the child leads, making their own choices. If you’re a Montessori parent (or considering becoming one), take a look at why children need the freedom to choose and how they can benefit from it.

Learning Styles

How does your child learn best? There isn’t one educational strategy that works for everyone. Different students adopt different modes of learning, depending on their natural preferences, abilities, likes, and dislikes.

Allowing children to make choices in the educational environment allows them to prioritize their learning style, making lessons and activities more meaningful. The primary types of recognized learning styles include the following:

  • Visual-spatial. Children who are visual-spatial learners tend to prefer aesthetic elements, drawings, charts, photos, and anything else they can look at.
  • Aural. Also referred to as musical learners, students who prefer this style respond to sounds, speech, and rhythms.
  • Verbal. These learners gravitate towards words and often enjoy speaking and reading.
  • Kinesthetic. This style refers to students who prefer physical modes of learning. This includes movement, dance, and hands-on/tactile activities.

While there is some controversy in the educational community about matching a child to a specific learning style, freedom of choice allows the student to naturally move towards what suits them best. This differs from labeling a child with a specific style and tailoring activities to meet their supposed needs.

Independence Issues

Developing a healthy sense of independence is part of growing up and becoming a successful student. Constantly leading the child, as a learner, decreases their opportunities for independence. The more choices a child makes, the more independent they become. This type of thinking and action translates from the school setting into every other area of the child’s life.

Montessori classrooms foster independence by putting the child at the center of the educational process. They act independently as learners, while under the supervision and gentle guidance of an expert educator.

Developmental Differences

A uniform educational experience for a grade-level group of students assumes that all children develop at the same (or at the very least, similar) rate based on age. Even though there are commonly accepted milestones that children meet, individual students in the same grade and age grouping can vary widely in skill development.

Giving the child choices provides them the freedom to learn, regardless of the student’s current development. Montessori materials are designed to challenge the child, providing multiple levels of difficulty. Working with the teacher, the child can choose how they use the materials, creating an individualized learning experience that meets their developmental needs.

Building Interest

Telling a child what, when, and how to learn isn’t likely to generate interest. Choosing educational activities allows the child to guide their learning by interest. Building on interests helps the child to invest in their own education, making learning relatable, meaningful, and fun.

Even though Montessori classrooms encourage the child to choose what and how they learn, this doesn’t mean that students will skip entire subjects. If a child prefers art over addition, they won’t completely skip math. Instead, the educator can provide a variety of math-based options for the child to choose from.

Creative Development

Creativity doesn’t just happen during art explorations or through music-making activities. It’s part of who the child is. Choice can lead to critical and creative thinking processes. By providing the child with plenty of choices throughout the school day, they have the opportunity to problem solve, which leads to creative thinking.

Is your child ready to begin their Montessori educational adventure? Contact Miniapple International Montessori Schools for more information on children’s programs.

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