Montessori: What is Independence?


In Montessori and in particular Montessori in the home, the focus is often on fostering independence. We know we should be supporting the child’s independence but why, what is it all about?

The child seeks for independence by means of work; an independence of body and mind. Little he cares about the knowledge of others; he wants to acquire a knowledge of his own, to have experience of the world, and to perceive it by his own unaided efforts.” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind.

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It’s about following the child, removing barriers and allowing them to reach their full potential. It’s not about comparing one child’s skills with another, it’s not about rushing or forcing the child to do something they are not ready for. What is independence?

Independence is:

  • A need, a natural urge, a vital life force, comes from an internal drive
  • Removing barriers (obstacles) to natural development
  • Always age appropriate, starts from birth
  • Continuous activity, constant effort
  • Physical and spiritual
  • Skill development
  • Empowerment
  • Accomplishment
  • Self satisfying
  • Self actualization
  • Self discipline
  • Self expression
  • Freedom
  • Following the child
  • Observing the child to meet their developmental needs
  • A prepared environment
  • Trust in the child and trust in the environment
  • Confidence
  • Pride
  • Love
  • Respect
  • Growth
  • Individual
  • Dynamic

Independence is not:

  • Rushed, hurried
  • Forced
  • Static
  • Fast
  • Limited
  • Tidy or clean

Independence looks different in every home. It sometimes helps to think about why what we want the child to achieve independence and why it is important to us, it may help us prioritise our work with our children!

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