Looking to learn how to teach discipline in Montessori classroom or at home? In this post we will explore effective strategies and practical tips for cultivating essential discipline in the Montessori educational environment.
Discipline is an integral human capacity to abide by the rules and has control over one’s actions, thoughts, and words.
When a child is in charge of his own learning process and is given agency to learn at their own pace, some parents wonder about the approach to discipline in Montessori academies.
The word discipline comes from the Latin root word “disciple” which means “student.”
Discipline is both an art and a science. In his book, Encyclopedia of Peace Education, Norwegian peace scholar Johan Galtung says that the methods of discipline or classroom management system in Montessori classrooms reinforce a method they call “peace education.”
It means that discipline in Montessori means consistent teaching of instructions and illustrating the method specifically rather than to punish them.
Further, Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian pedagogue and the founder of the Montessori method believes that a disciplined individual is one who is a master of himself.
Given what’s all been said, how to teach discipline in Montessori? Discipline is an integral part of humanity and there are so many ways to teach discipline in Montessori schools. The first is to have respectful communication with the child. Second, emphasize that actions have consequences. Third, give the children the freedom of choice to explore the prepared environment within limits. Fourth, validate their emotions. Fifth, offer help if needed, and lastly, avoid using positive and negative reinforcements and reward systems.
In this article, we discuss part of the Montessori education’s different approach to discipline and how to use the Montessori way to discipline your kids at home!
Do Montessori Schools Discipline Children?
Contrary to popular belief, the Montessori curriculum also enforces self-discipline in children.
In classrooms, children are given as much autonomy and freedom as possible but within limits.
Following Montessori philosophy’s four planes of development, schools ensure that children are being encouraged to reach their full potential without having to put too much pressure for the sake of “disciplining” a child.
How Does The Montessori Approach Discipline Children?
In traditional schools, the disciplinary approach differs greatly from the discipline in Montessori.
Montessori education believes that the best approach to encourage a child to make progress is to support them in their learning process. Moreover, children are also treated equally. They are not put in competition against each other to see who can do better than others.
Whether children progress in their learning or fail in mastery or skills, no reward system or disciplinary action is enforced by the school. This not only boosts their kid’s confidence but also instills the idea that it is okay to make mistakes and learn at their own pace.
Should an inappropriate behavior is done or made by the child, a teacher is obliged to explain why the behavior is not tolerable and how to make amends and do better.
Through this, children learn how to make amends if they caused an accident or learn how to help a friend who is injured.
As kids mature, they will develop a sense of accountability for the consequences of their actions and learn more techniques for making apologies such as offering to replace or fix something they broke.
One of the most important approaches to discipline in Montessori is communicating with the children with respect.
Kids of all ages can express their wishes, likes, dislikes, and worries. If a younger child will be told “no”, the way it’s going to be said will be done very kindly with an explanation that kids their age will understand.
When a kid behaves improperly, Montessori teachers will explain why this is the case and suggest alternatives.
For example, a kid who throws toys across the room and breaks them will be calmly reminded that this behavior destroys objects and they will be encouraged to throw a ball or Frisbee outside.
6 Rules of Discipline in the Montessori Approach
Contrary to popular misconceptions that the Montessori approach to discipline is either very rigid or very lenient, Montessori actually lies between these two extremes.
Following the methods created by Dr. Maria Montessori, discipline does not equate to punishment.
When a child makes mistakes, Montessori believed that it serves as an opportunity to teach a child to make better decisions.
Below are the 6 guiding rules in order to enforce discipline on a child.
#1. Respectful communication emphasizing causality
Young kids learn by imitating the things they hear and see.
Respectful communication entails talking and listening to kids with careful consideration. They should have confidence and trust in their caregivers or parents so that they must know that someone is not going to disregard them if they struggle.
As your child develops the skill of recognizing patterns of behaviors that lead to outcomes that they desire, the child will soon set clear expectations and goals to get what they want.
A kid’s motivation to master a certain skill or a specific behavior is directed by how this behavior will give them their desired outcomes.
For instance, you can say, “If you want to have time to stop at the park on the way home, then you need to get your shoes and coat quickly.”
As toddlers learn to understand causality and have clear expectations, their inner discipline is reinforced.
The development of a trusting connection allows the child to view a parent, guardian, or caregiver as someone who has crucial knowledge that will support their growth.
#2. Emphasize the natural consequences of one’s choices
Sometimes, it can be difficult for kids to see the negative or positive consequences of their actions.
This is why sometimes, they rely on their parents or caregivers to fully understand the situation and decide how to react.
By emphasizing the natural consequences of one’s choices, parents can help them understand and think about the consequences. Through this, the children are given the ability to choose how to respond on their own.
Then, based on that reaction, develop an understanding that it doesn’t matter what their choices are, everything has consequences.
Inner discipline is built around the idea that a child should be made aware that their choices have their own consequences, and they should be prepared to withstand and face these consequences.
It is important to take into account that a child will not be able to reason well if their physiological needs are not met.
So make sure that before the topic is discussed, the child has already eaten and has rested properly.
#3. Maximum freedom within limits
According to Maria Montessori, “Discipline must come through liberty.”
The Montessori method emphasizes giving children the freedom to choose activities that they would like to do.
However, this freedom is not absolute. Obvious boundaries are set to protect the children and their peers.
This approach is very important in teaching discipline in the Montessori classroom because if there are too many restrictions, the child may feel like they are being caged or restricted.
Dr. Montessori believed that if there are no restrictions in place, kids can do whatever they want without having to think about what other people will say.
#4. Emotion validation
Naturally, a child will occasionally wish to do something that is not allowed.
A preschooler may not sometimes comprehend why some decisions are up to him and others are not.
They may have questions such as, “Why is it that I may choose what I eat for supper but not the time?” or “Why can I stay up all night for studying but not for playing?”
take note that these questions are not harmful and they should be addressed properly to help your child understand what is going on and at the same time, build positive discipline.
Validate the child’s emotions by recognizing the kid’s feelings during these trying times, you as an adult can help him control himself.
Remember to give your child time to experience the disappointment and to hold off on any reasoning or debate until they’ve calmed down and the first emotion has passed.
It is important to let the child feel their emotions so they can be more disciplined in handling them in the future.
The child’s own desire to learn, develop, control her emotions, and establish her own character is a parent’s best ally.
You can help children establish their inner discipline by being calm and honoring their wishes.
You may encourage the sense of personal autonomy your kid is naturally seeking as she takes her own particular path to achieve physical, emotional, and intellectual independence by setting clear expectations and encouraging her active thought and reflection.
#5. Offer help if needed
In order to enforce discipline effectively in a Montessori environment whether at school or at home, it is important to let the child know that you are more than willing to provide assistance if they are struggling.
If your child is throwing a fit, it is best to calm them down first.
After they’ve calmed down, assist them in accomplishing any task at hand or make the necessary preparations for what they’ll do after calming down. At this point, toddlers usually let out a deep sigh.
This is also a good time to tell them that their behavior is wrong and help the child understand the choices that are appropriate for certain situations.
It is important to be very patient during this time.
#6. Avoid the use of positive and negative reinforcement and reward
In the Montessori way of discipline, employing bribes, prizes, and a punishment system is not encouraged.
Since these can all enforce extrinsic motivation, it can’t be very helpful in building internal self-discipline.
Instead, the Montessori method of discipline states that children should not be made to compete with each other.
They are encouraged to be better than they did and track their progress based on an individualized metric.
When it comes to discipline, the Montessori approach to education has its own way of doing things.
It promotes a punishment-free and reward system-free approach that allows your child to develop a positive inner discipline that they can bring with them for life.
Sometimes, a child can be such a handful, and teaching them discipline is something that cannot be done overnight.
However, as part of Montessori education, one of the goals of discipline is ensuring that the outcome is something that will serve the children for a long time.
As a result, Montessori children will be nothing short of disciplined individuals with good behavior.
Which type of discipline was advocated by Montessori? Dr. Maria Montessori advocated the use of self-discipline and self-assessment to correct bad behavior. This basically means that children are given the chance to understand the natural consequences of their actions instead of enforcing punishment and obedience.
What are the key elements of the Montessori method? The Montessori method is an educational approach that is based on the idea that children learn best through hands-on experience and by being given the freedom to make their own choices. The method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, and educator, in the early 20th century.
Does Montessori use timeout? Timeouts are discouraged in the Montessori setup since it is an exercise of negative reinforcement.