Free Working at Montessori Pedagogy
Free working is the basis of the Montessori Pedagogy. This is only safeguarded under various aspects.
Two important points make it possible, the prepared surroundings and the free choice. Either in the nursery school or in the school later the child finds these prepared surroundings for learning in all Montessori institutions. Diffrent kinds of learning material to wake up the childrens interest is prepared visibly for the children in shelves which they can get without any further help. To the children a careful handling of the teaching material is guaranteed. If one component should be damaged or uncomplete the problem will be solved inmediately.
The free choice means that the child defines exactly its own way of working, e.g. which material to use, in which surroundings e.g. on the table, at the ground, with whom (alone or with somebody else) and how long (the child repeats as long as it is sure enough).
Corresponding to the fundamental ideas of the Montessori Pedagogy the teacher gives advice in all matters. He shows the children the handling with the different learning material and helps the child if there is any question or problem. At the same time the Montessori teacher is a good observer. He cares about the children who do not work or go around in the classroom without any idea and so he asks for the reasons. Perhaps one child has just worked out a difficult topic and needs only a short rest. Or the child prefers looking at other children how they manage to work out something with a certain material. Or the child cannot decide which material to use.The teacher decides which way to go.
The free working is often criticised that the children may shirk doing any work at all if the have the possibility to choose. But that does not happen, because the children themselves choose their materials. They simply decide what is just most interesting. Of course the children will be led carefully if they only concentrate on doing language exercises instead of doing mathematics. Hereby the teacher tries to find out the reasons why the child rejects doing something and he offers other learnung material to the child. Anyway he uses sensitiveness and avoids any pressure.
Now it is for the teacher to push the child more often and more intensivly with the free working.
This self-determined atmosphere of working without any pressure supports the self-confidence and the self-satisfaction of the children, an idea which was very important for Maria Montessori.
In that way even you can notice the first steps putting down roots in regular school pedagogy.