How Does the Montessori Environment Facilitate and Encourage the Freedom of the Child?

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In a Montessori classroom, a child is free to move about and explore the environment because with activity and movement comes learning. Movement, in fact, contributes not only to the physical, but also to the intellectual potential and spiritual development of the child. The child must have freedom achieved through order and self-discipline. The child in a Montessori environment can learn, discover and be creative. He has the freedom of choice and develops his individual interest. The child learns best in a prepared environment. It is a place where the child can do things for him or herself. The environment is created in proportion to the child and his or her needs. They decide for themselves which materials to work with. “The extern material is then offered, and left freely to the natural individual energies of the children. They choose the objects they prefer; and such preference is dictated by the internal needs of “physical growth.” Each child occupies himself with each object chose for as long as he wishes; and this desire corresponds to the needs of the intimate maturation of the spirit a process which demands persevering and prolonged exercise.” (Montessori, Spontaneous Activity in Education, 1969, p.86)

The teacher prepares the environment while offering activities after preparations. The teacher also functions as a reference person while also observing the child in order to help the process of “Learning how to learn”. This knowledge comes through his or her practice of observation. However, it is the child who learns how to operate different items in the prepared environment. The child is free to move about and make choices about what he or she chooses to learn. There are also proper limits to the prepared environment. He or she may freely choose to work only from materials that he or she has been shown how to use. He or she must use the materials properly and return them properly while not infringing upon the rights of others. This means that he...
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