Building Respect - A critical component of fostering success

Respect for the child is one of the basic principles of the Montessori Method. Maria Montessori strongly believed that children should be treated with respect. Respecting a child helps develop trust, strengthen relationships, and build self-confidence. Here at OakHaven, we strive to demonstrate this in many ways. Every detail of every lesson is carefully designed for the child and his needs. Each word spoken to a child is carefully and respectfully chosen. Every aspect of the environment is prepared with the child in mind. These things allow for the child to feel safe and be able to develop and thrive. There are many things that you, as a parent, can do to provide respect for your child.

Prepare for what’s ahead - As adults, we have a general idea of what each day and its activities will entail. We know when we will go to work, what chores need to be accomplished at home, what a visit to the dentist will involve. All of this knowledge makes us comfortable and confident in what we do. Children need and want to feel this way too. Talking to your child about what is coming up can help them to feel more comfortable and prepared. If someone different is picking your child up from school, tell them ahead of time to avoid an unwelcome surprise. If your child is going to get his teeth cleaned for the first time, explaining the process ahead of time can help to calm nerves. If getting your child to take a bath in the evening is a struggle, try telling him at dinner that after he eats, he will read a story and take a bath. This takes away the element of surprise and helps mentally prepare him for the upcoming bath.

Observe and adjust - This is one that takes a lot of practice, but is worth the effort. If a pattern of struggle or upset occurs in a situation, take a step back and think about what is happening, then come up with a way to adjust. Maybe there is a struggle every morning to get your child dressed for school, which results in both of you leaving the house feeling frustrated- a bad way to start any day! Try choosing an outfit the night before so your child doesn’t have to make that decision first thing in the morning. Sometimes making the smallest adjustment can make things go more smoothly for everyone.

Allow time - While at school, your child is learning all sorts of wonderful skills that take time and patience to master. You’ve probably seen some of these skills at home: getting dressed independently, pouring a glass of milk, tying shoelaces, etc. The best way that you help foster your child’s independence is to be patient and provide plenty of time for him to complete a task. Maybe that means preparing to leave a few minutes earlier just so your child can put his shoes on by himself. It may be tempting to just throw the shoes on for him, but trusting that he can do it and giving him the time needed to succeed is invaluable.

Provide freedom within limits - This is something we practice every single day at school. It is one of the basic principles of Montessori education. For example, you can allow your child to choose which uniform shirt he wears from a drawer full of uniforms. Or, if your child is refusing to get in his car seat, you can give him the choice to either get in on his own or have you put him in. It’s all about providing choices and freedoms within a set of standards and limits. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature!

When you take the time to do these things: prepare for what’s ahead, observe and adjust, allow time, and provide freedom within limits, you not only demonstrate respect for your child, you enable him to be successful. For, “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future (Maria Montessori).”

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