Discipline in a Montessori Classroom: NATURAL & LOGICAL Consequences INSTEAD of Punishment
Ok, let’s face it. We’ve all had those days. The alarm clock went off and you had barely fallen asleep. Time flew by and you were late getting out the door. Thank goodness, you had coffee to wake you up on the drive into school.
Oh wait! What?!
You must have left the coffee on the counter as you scrambled to find your keys and feed the dog and help the kids get shoes on and get their backpacks and lunch boxes and remember the toothpicks that you needed for the science experiment. And of course there is now no time to run through the drive through for your daily dose of wake-up because the office called to let you know that a parent wants to discuss their child’s progress when you get to the school. There goes the prep time you needed.
So, of course today would be the day that one of your students would choose to:
A. kick the classmates next to them during morning circle
B. rip apart a new material that you just stayed late yesterday to assemble
C. run across the room kicking classmates’ work to beat another student to line up for library
D. use their fingers as dunking tools to eat the ranch at the snack table
E. poke another student with a pencil
F. Do I really need to continue? I’m sure you could make your own list here… 😊
And in that moment, that sleep-deprived, time-strapped, stress-piled moment, it feels like responding thoughtfully would require the strength of gods.
But maybe there’s a way!
Let’s take a minute to break down Discipline in a Montessori Classroom.
Having a plan beforehand can be the factor that determines whether you’ll save the day with a teachable moment or lose the moment with a rash comment or meaningless punishment. And, Parents, you can definitely take this from the classroom to the living room.
So, what’s the plan?
Note: Whenever possible, the adult will privately discuss the inappropriate behavior with the student, making sure that the tone of the discussion is not instilling shame in the student and that the goal of the discussion is to help the student think through appropriate choices in order to become independent. As Montessori remarked, “The undisciplined child enters into discipline by working in the company of others; not being told he is naughty.”
Pro Tip: Prepare yourself too. Leave personal problems at home. Breathe. Enter their world and walk in their shoes. Remember the goal - not to control them but to give them the tools to control themselves as independent, respected members of the community.
Using the Montessori ideas of Logical Consequences and Choices promotes learning and development instead of simply demanding obedience. Surely the stressful moments in the classroom and at home do not always feel as exciting as guiding a student through their first reading box or working alongside your child to prepare a delicious dinner recipe together. However, even these moments are full of learning and serve as stepping stones toward independence.
We hope you've enjoyed these ideas. Send us your questions and comments and tips so we can share them here with the MUST BE MONTESSORI community.