Posted on by Helena Eddings


We follow through. It’s one of the ways we support children. We don’t simply say something once. We demonstrate, observe, model, assist and remind.


Everything is neutral to a child. There is no “right” way to sit on a chair, except that we have all agreed this is how we sit, and so it is our responsibility as educators to help a child know the acceptable way.

We help a child become part of the community when we help him to do things the acceptable way. It makes us uncomfortable when someone skips the line or when someone speaks rudely to another.

We make social agreements for appropriate behavior, and it’s how we function as a society. In the same way older children usher younger children into the classroom community by demonstrating how we function as a classroom group.

There is a right way to do things in our classrooms too, and the adults and the more experienced children help the younger ones learn the right way.


But why does it matter?

Does it really matter if a child carries everything carefully, arms bent at the elbows, whether carrying a box with a lid or a tray with water in a glass?

Yes, it absolutely matters.

Where’s the harm in twirling a bucket as you walk or tucking in your chair with a hip-check, puzzle in hand?

There might not be harm, per se, but there could be harm in what might follow.

Let’s follow the path of the dominoes.

If I don’t carry something respectfully, I might not be showing care for that material. If I don’t show care for the material, I might not take it seriously and use it to its fullest benefit. If I don’t take my work seriously, why should I respect the work of others? If I don’t respect others’ work, I might not respect others’ bodies or work or personal space. I might not care that carrying that box without care means the pieces are smashing together, chipping the paint until nothing is respected and cared for. I might not care that my twirling bucket sloshed water onto someone else’s careful work. I might casually bump into another child, the same way I casually bump my chair into place.

Let’s step back off the ledge and take a deep breath.

But in reality, everything matters. The little things become the big things. How you carry an item translates into how you carry yourself; how you treat materials becomes how you treat others.


So in Montessori we pay attention. We demonstrate, we model, and we support until it becomes second nature.  Everything for a child is overt and challenging until it becomes her habit. Children’s habits influence their personalities.

We aim to be disciplined, so a child can become disciplined. And all of a sudden it becomes visible. A child stands up from her chair, basket in hand, half turns away from her chair, then places the basket on the table and tucks in her chair using both her hands. A child laughs and says, “You can go first” when there’s a traffic jam at the doorway. A child is asked to tidy a shelf; we turn around and it’s flawless.

We have to be endlessly patient, and we cultivate this patience actively. The transformation, as a child is developing care, control, awareness of his surroundings and of others, is magical. It can only grow where the seeds are sown. With care, with tending, with nurturing support, and modeling, self- discipline bursts into bloom, and we take joy.

Adapted from: Baan Dek

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West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.