The Montessori method is founded “on the child himself” (Montessori, 2012, p7), it is based on the child’s psychology and on the observation of events naturally occurring from the child himself (Montessori, 2012). “Help me to help myself” is a key concept of the Montessori approach.
All children are born equal; they are all born with an innate desire to learn, to self-construct and to become independent (MCI, 2013a). Through an individualised, child-centred method the children are given the opportunities to learn at their own pace within a favourable environment.
The favourable environment fosters and supports the child’s developing independence through its physical structure, the activities available and with the support of the teacher. The Montessori teacher must be a good observer, “the eyes of the teacher must be trained” (Montessori, 2012, p226), and understanding of the child’s development is paramount in order to provide the best guidance for the child.
Freedom of movement allows the child to do things by her/himself thus leading towards independence, so the child should be allowed to move and choose freely, it is freedom but within limits and responsibilities (MCI, 2013a).
Using a case study, we will look at independence as an intrinsic desire of young children and how the favourable environment supports its development.
Montessori presents human development as a natural process working through sensitive periods, human needs and tendencies; the way humans naturally behave (Montessori, 2012). Children are born with an innate desire to explore, to communicate and to develop their independence by doing things for themselves (Montessori Association AMI UK, undated). She advocated that “education must begin at birth” (Montessori, 2012, p53). At birth, the child’s movements are limited to the survival reflexes such as the Moro reflex or grasp reflex...