In a Montessori environment children are able to have freedom. Freedom allows the child to make choices and to be able to be successful managing their choices. However, it is important to note that freedom comes with responsibility. The responsibility is to choose work, complete work and also follow the rules of the classroom and the environment in order to be successful.
An interesting experience that comes from freedom is obedience. Freedom and obedience seem to be two contrasting ideas. However, when students are able to exercise freedom they somehow are naturally obedient. However, obedience must come from the characteristics of individuals themselves. When freedom and responsibility is not evident challenges become apparent. Obedience can only come from the development of the individual and the mastery of one’s own self discipline.
At the beginning of the year children and teachers discuss together the rules for the classroom environment and the rules for the outdoor environment. The specialist are also instrumental in making sure that rules are appropriate and every environment. Together with the children these rules become internalized through structure in the environment and also through the role modeling with other children.
Young children develop a strong sense of order and can easily be successful with gentle redirection. Elementary children, because they are in the second plane of development are all about a sense of fairness. If the game has rules the rules must be followed. There is no room for negotiation, or making up rules as they go along.
Upper elementary children, have a need to exercise their right for fairness and to discuss collaboratively how a game will be played. However, there has to be a buy-in from all parties involved. Discussion, problem-solving and agreement will need to be maintained by everyone.
Adolescence have a learn to be independent and mindful of their behaviors. They become immediately aware of the situation and in most cases have to answer to their peers, which is more difficult than having to answer to an adult.