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Promoting independence

Independent Child: One of the core characteristics of the Montessori philosophy is teaching the child independence. Given the proper tools, the child will be able to take care of personal responsibilities and the environment. Children learn to get dressed, clean the environment and regulate emotions. Putting on shirts, pants, shoes, coats (mittens, gloves, hats and scarves) not only allows the child to get ready for the day but also, naturally, builds confidence. A sense of pride will leak into other aspects of the child's life, for example in a school setting. Being able to walk into a classroom, put away necessary materials (backpacks, outside shoes and etc.) and pick something to work with for the day also feeds into the child's independence. Working in a classroom with peers can sometimes stir up conflicts between the children. In a Montessori environment it is ideal that the children work through personal conflicts which means the child will have to practice the correct language to solve these problems. Problem-solving skills not only occur with peer to peer conflicts but also with academic lessons. The Montessori materials are designed to be self correcting. This means that if a mistake does happen while working through a lesson then it will be clear to the child and thus the child can correct the mistake independently. 

Environment to Promote Independence: Independence is built in an environment that supports the child's developmental needs. A prepared environment is the best way to promote independence in a child. Making sure that there are enough towels when a child makes a spill, checking that there is an abundance of paper for cutting activities and even sharpening pencils for writing or are all part of preparing a child's environment. If these things are not ready for the child during the school day, then the child will have to ask the adult for help. This will automatically decreases the child's independence. The child will also think that the adult is necessary for the child's success which can chip at the child's confidence. The materials should be set up in a way that the child can remove each item from the shelf and replace everything independently. The routine of the day should also be consistent and easy to execute by a child. Eventually, the child will be able to work in a prepared environment as if the teacher does not exist. 

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