We Nurture Independence in Children
“Development takes the form of a drive toward an ever-greater independence. It is like an arrow released from the bow, which flies straight, swift and sure. The child’s conquest of independence begins with his first introduction to life. While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path.”
We have to help the child to act, will, and think for himself.Maria Montessori
Our singular mission at Guidepost is to support each child as she grows in her independence.
In every child lives limitless human potential. For the child to realize that potential is to confidently grow and to joyously learn. It is to create and to love herself while gaining the knowledge to form a unique vision of her singular life. It is the security to live that vision, to dare greatly, to love others.
The Montessori approach to human development is based on the belief in the potential of the child, and on the belief that it is only the child herself who can realize this potential. To grow up well is to grow up to be increasingly independent—to be increasingly capable, increasingly confident, increasingly secure, increasingly able to meet one’s own needs, forming one’s own values, and authoring one’s own life. Our job as caretakers is to understand and to love this process as it unfolds for children in our care, and to support the child in blazing her trail.
The circumstances of children are as varied as children themselves. The specific needs, the precise resources available, the particular constraints faced by each child and each family are different. As times change, there is a need to keep step and to ensure that the application is timely. But the fundamental need is timeless: to help the child achieve her own development. So, too, is the fundamental method: to provide the child with material, environment, and guidance that is lovingly optimized to support her in that work.
The support a child’s caretakers can provide for her burgeoning independence is multifaceted:
We can provide materials and inspiration for her to do the work of growing and learning. Every child learns to walk, but not every child learns to walk in a way that feels like an exciting challenge, that redounds upon her confidence. So it is with all of human development and knowledge.
The child achieves her own development by engagement and by practice. From grasping an object for the first time, to eating independently, to toileting, to putting her world to words—to the whole world of knowledge, of nature and quantity and life and culture—the effort that children put in can be magnified by thoughtful learning materials and guidance.
We can carefully support a child’s environment, creating a wonderful world for her in which to grow up. Children are constantly interacting with and absorbing experiences from their environment. One of the best things we can do for a child is to set up a space where she can be maximally independent and efficacious, a space that is to her comprehensible and enticing, a space that is aesthetically and pedagogically rich. Whether it’s at school or at home, the principles are the same: a world that is accessible, orderly, and enticing is a world that is supportive of a child’s growth.
We can prepare ourselves as caretakers of the child. Raising children is as demanding as it is rewarding. It requires that we spend ourselves in understanding and love, that we thoughtfully navigate the stages of a unique child’s development, and that have the self-awareness to manage our own lives, motivation, and energy as we do so.
It is tremendously beneficial to both the child and her caretakers to elevate a teaching and parenting philosophy to consciousness, to take an integrated approach to the infinite texture of a child’s growth toward independence.
Finally, we can connect with others, other parents, other teachers, other developmentalists and pedagogues, each of whom adds their own experience and wisdom to our accumulated knowledge about child development.Montessori is not just a philosophy of human development. It is also an applied pedagogy, one with over a century of validation, refinement, and grassroots international growth. Guidepost, and each member of our community, benefits tremendously by participating in that movement and history.
Guidepost Montessori is many things. It is a network of Montessori schools—it is a community of Montessori parents and educators—it is a growing encyclopedia of Montessori resources—it is virtual and at-home and self-serve Montessori programming. The common denominator, the undercurrent, is the Montessori approach of fostering independence in developing human beings.