Need for Structure in the Freedom

With the lock down continuing in the city for more than 2 months now, our daily routine has changed a lot! With no one rushing to school or office, with no shopping happening, with no visitors at home, with the only person we see in our day being the corporation foot soldier who comes daily for health Sensex, with our only window to see what’s happening in our neighbourhood being the Television News, We sometimes don’t realise the difference between day and night!
Are we all truly liking this freedom? Are we all satisfied with our time and energy in a day? I am sure somedays we feel so tired of this excess freedom. Are we all not looking forward to how things were a few months back? Why so?

As much we all crave for freedom, we have a dire need for structure too. And more than adults, children enjoy having a little structure in the day more than a free day!

With no structure, life is chaos! And with too much structure, there is no creativity! And hence children naturally look forward to a balanced environment where there is a structure as well they have a bit of freedom too. And this what is the magic happening in the Montessori environment.

At Montessori Environment
As you a Montessori Environment, you will surely observe a neatly arranged sequence of activities so invitingly kept for the children. Children will find everything that they may need in a day, kept in a ready to use way. Also, you can notice well ventilated quiet corners for reading/writing created. We, Montessori teachers, go out of our way to make their classrooms feel like home. The reason we do it is simple, yet profound:

“When children are in a comfortable and familiar place, they feel safe.
And when they feel safe, their brains are relaxed and ready to learn.”

Coming back to the topic, let’s see the aspect of freedom and structure exercised in the Montessori Environment.

1. I decide whether to work or not
2. I decide my place of work
3. I decide my work
4. I decide how long I can work
5. I decide to rest if I feel tired
6. I decide to talk to my friends or aunts
7. I decide to walk around the class just watching others
8. I decide to just be myself

1. I work with only any of activities that are shown to me
2. I can work only inside the environment and cannot walk outside
3. I can work only with the activities shown to me
4. If I choose an activity, I got to work with it atleast once
5. I can rest if needed in a corner of the room not disturbing others
6. I can talk to my friends or aunties without disturbing their work
7. I walk around the mat
8. I can be just Myself!

At Home
While we, Montessori teachers, strive to make the environment more like home for the child to feel safe, it is equally possible to take Montessori to your home with just a few changes. Again, defining freedom and structure for the child helps in making it quite possible and simple.

1. I decide to wake up for the day
2. I decide to do my daily chores on my own
3. I decide to eat my food on my own
4. I decide to play/work/read
5. I decide to watch TV
6. I decide to talk to my friends or extended family over the phone
7. I decide to go to bed
8. I decide to just be myself

1. I wake up any time before x AM and roll my bed.
2. I can do my chores without wasting water. Also, I should remember to clean the place.
3. I can eat sitting at the dining place (no screens while eating)
4. I can play/work/read and remember to put back the stuff I used
5. I can watch TV along with any adult.
6. I can talk to my friends or extended families during the time of the day when they will be free
7. I can go to bed at my time but all I can do is only silent reading till I feel sleepy. (No screens definitely)
8. I can be just Myself!

Children above 4 years will be quite independent in many of the said tasks. For little younger children, we can quietly be behind them and withdraw as they are quite managing it.

More importantly, we should remember that all this freedom and structure applies to everyone in the family. Children learn a lot from seeing our behaviour than listening to our lecturing!

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