From her earliest research, Maria Montessori worked to bring order into disorder, and sought to educate the unteachable. She recognized many behavioral problems in young children as being a lack of purpose or the freedom to make choices. She looked at behavioral issues as symptoms rather than problems, and she worked to treat the underlying cause, which was often boredom or frustration. For Maria Montessori, gaining the attention and enthusiasm of the child was the first step in managing behavior problems.
Providing Choice and Options
A large percentage of behavior issues stem from boredom or misunderstanding. In the Montessori classroom, every step has been taken to eliminate boredom by offering a wide variety of activities and interactions. Where a traditional classroom offers only one option for all students, the Montessori classroom offers multiple options for all students, expressly because of the importance of keeping children involved and interested.
Montessori and Conflict Resolution
In a Montessori classroom, children are encouraged to practice conflict resolution. Rather than an adult moderator, children are taught how to examine the situation and look for alternative solutions which avoid direct conflict. The role of the student guide is not to intervene in a dictatorial fashion, but to offer possible ways the conflict could be resolved without adult intervention. The concept, repeated in various ways throughout the Montessori Method, is to provide children with the necessary problem solving skills and tools they need. This is not done to take responsibility away from the adults in the vicinity, but to build responsibility in the participants themselves.
Guidance Over Directives
Encouraging children to solve conflicts themselves helps them learn to apply logic and reason. Instead of the adult commanding a swift resolution, children are presented with possible ways the problem can be solved, and children are encouraged to work out an optimum solution. This instills a sense of both personal responsibility and freedom, as well instilling children with the idea that they can solve their own problems without outside interference.
Encouraging Positive Behavior
All too often, children are presented with criticisms of their behavior. A better idea is to influence behavior with positive, friendly information. Teaching young children to be more accepting and less expecting of others is a practice that will carry over into other activities. Positive thinking and a constructive approach to conflict provides the tools of diplomacy, which children can be encouraged to apply to all facets of life, not just personal conflicts.
There is no single strategy to solve all behavioral problems. Instead, supervising adults should be prepared to look at the options available, and then guide the children towards a change in behavior that is neither disruptive to the class nor authoritarian to the child. There will still be times when an adult has to take action, but the ultimate goal is to teach the children how to resolve conflicts themselves. The teachers and staff at Mission Valley Montessori encourage positive behavior and positive interactions among students. To see if Montessori education is a good fit for your child, contact us today and schedule a tour.