Interacting With Your Child in a Montessori Way – Part 3

Today we continue exploring the benefits of interacting with your child in a Montessori way by looking at a seemingly contradictory but key principle: Freedom Within Limits.


Freedom Within Limits

According to Maria Montessori, “A child’s work is to create the person he will become.” Freedom within limits is a Montessori principle that is very important. Freedom allows children to follow their interest and become more independent. Limits give children the latitude to be creative while establishing boundaries. If you observe a Montessori morning, you will find a 2 – 3 hour uninterrupted world period. During this time, children are receiving individual or small group lessons. It is also during this time that students choose their own activities. A child may begin in any area of the classroom, reading a book, washing clothes, using golden bead materials; the choices are boundless. As long as the child is engaged in meaningful world, the teacher does not get involved. She will observe. This freedom is not unlimited – the teacher has constructed an environment and invisible structure that the child has internalized. Each child earns his independence over time. In that same observation, you may notice one child who is always sitting next to the teacher or next to another student watching him/her work. The teacher is providing opportunities for that child to see how an activity is started, worked with, and then restored. The child observes this over and over again and will then ask the teacher if he too may have a turn to do such work. The teacher will present a lesson and step back to see if the child can work independently. If he works successfully, he will be left alone. If he needs more guidance, the teacher will provide him more opportunities to observe.

At home, parents should provide activities that engage the child’s interest and opportunities for the child to play alone. Televisions are not interactive and should be used sparingly. Puzzles, blocks, dolls, and other activities that stimulate imagination are encouraged. Avoid interrupting your child as they play.

Do not worry that you need to entertain your child. A bored child is a child who is yet able to solve his/her own problems. Create a jar with suggested activities for your child and continue to add to it.

Suggestions are:

  • Create a book (or picture book for young children)
  • Build a fort
  • Ride your bike
  • Brush the dog or cat
  • Listen to music and dance
  • Clean out the area where you sit in the care
  • Create a treasure hunt with clues
  • Bounce a ball
  • Journal
  • Play with costumes

Join us next Monday as we explore our next opportunity to interact with your child in a Montessori way, through Mutual Respect.


Process Precedes Content


“As a child becomes familiar with the expectations in a Montessori classroom, they develop a sense of internal order helping them navigate through the multitude of decisions they make on a daily basis. Part of the core foundation of a Montessori classroom is ‘freedom with responsibility.’

“A Montessori student enjoys the freedom of choosing a variety of work, once they have learned the specific steps of using the materials and to work at the level matching their experience and abilities.

“Often, it takes time and practice for a child to use the materials in the way they were initially presented by the teacher. If a child is not engaging the materials in a concise way, it becomes vital for the teacher to continually model the way it needs to be done. The child needs a clear view of how something is done in order to achieve mastery of the skill.


“If the child is left with an unfinished impression of how to do something, they are not enjoying the higher level of confidence they could experience by following a process that is tried and true. Integrating a process of how something is done is the foundation for learning. We know that a sure, steady organized approach to a work is going to net a better experience for the child and increase the likelihood of them using the materials independently again.

“Even at home, it can be helpful to encourage your child to take their time with any tasks you might ask them to do. Maybe putting their toys away in an organized and consistent process could help foster the habit of slowing down and doing something with full attention.”

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From the P2 Blog