A Few Important Elements of Our Approach to Discipline
At the Montessori School of Wellington, our goal is to help children develop self-discipline through self-regulation and self-control. Imposed discipline is only effective while the authority figure is present. Studies have shown that discipline by means of reward and punishment has limited and potentially negative effects. Punishment, for example, can foster aggression and deteriorate relationships. Instead, we model the behaviour we want to see in children by providing a safe and positive learning environment that teaches children how to make good choices. Some of the important facets of this environment include the following: 1) ground rules, 2) freedom to make choices and 3) lessons in grace and courtesy.
1. Ground rules
At the Montessori School of Wellington, we have three rules:
- Respect yourself
- Respect others
- Respect your environment
Children cannot resist exploring our beautiful and orderly classrooms and we give them the freedom to do so at their own pace. However, it is also important to give children firm boundaries in order to foster responsible interaction with their environment and peers. One of the secrets to success in the Montessori classroom is freedom within the limits of very clear rules. The magic of our rules is that they can be applied in just about any situation where children (and adults) must make choices that affect their environment and the people within it.
2. Freedom to make choices
Many people do not consider freedom to be an integral component of discipline. However, we believe that self-discipline is cultivated when children are given the freedom to make their own choices and experience the consequences of those choices. This is crucial for children’s personal growth. It enables them to learn what kind of behaviour is best for them and/or best for their community. This inner discipline isn’t something that is automatically present and it can’t be taught—it is something that evolves under the right circumstances. As teachers, we see our role at the Montessori School of Wellington as being models and guides for children, while also supporting them as they develop to the point where they are able to choose to accept and follow the “rules” of the classroom community.
3. Grace and Courtesy lessons
The concepts of kindness and respect are abstract concepts that need to be modeled and taught. Children do not automatically know how to be a friend, how to express anger or how to solve problems. These special skills are taught with our Grace and Courtesy lessons, which are presented through demonstrations and then practiced through role-playing. Our teachers and older students also model grace and courtesy on a daily basis. These lessons are the foundation of the classroom, as they set a tone of respect and kindness. Your child will learn important diplomacy skills such as how to shake hands and greet a friend, how to properly interrupt someone who is busy and how to politely tell someone to move out of their way. Children love these lessons. They are always eager to take a turn in playing the roles, and they are thrilled to learn a better way to handle personal situations.
These are just a few distilled facets of our approach to discipline. You can find more detailed information on our Approach to Discipline page.