Freedom Within Limits

“What is generally known as discipline in traditional schools is not activity, but immobility and silence. It is not discipline, but something which festers inside a child, arousing his rebellious feelings”. (Montessori, Creative Development in the Child Vol. 2, p.41.)

It often happens that some may think that in a Montessori classroom children do what they want, and others may think that a Montessori classroom is too strict!

In a Montessori classroom the prepared environment is designed and catered for the children. This environment offers the child the opportunities they need to develop their self-discipline. This self-discipline comes from within the child; it is not exposed externally. The prepared environment offers the child freedom within limits; these limits are natural in the environment and not exposed by the adult.

In a Montessori classroom the child develops their self-control and with this self-control they develop their self-discipline. As this is developing through being active we can also observe the emergence of independence and responsibility. When a child walks around a mat they need to control their movement to make sure they do not step on the mat or disturb another child.

Some examples of these freedoms are the following: Montessori materials are limited; there is one of each. The child has freedom of choice but the environment establishes the limits: if the material you want to use is being used you will have to wait or choose something else. The child has freedom of movement but the limit is to move without disturbing others or bumping into chairs.