In this blog post, I would like to address the importance of self-correction in the Montessori Method.
One of Maria Montessori’s conclusions following her hours of observation in schools was that learning comes through experience. Being the first woman Doctor in Italy and having started her career with deficient children, she developed a set of scientifically designed materials to teach children a variety of concepts. Still in use today in Montessori schools, each material follows a set of criteria:
• Serves a purpose
Self-correction in Montessori schools is not only linked to the material. Everything in the classroom (called “environment”) has to reveal children and adults’ errors for them to learn. For instance, plastic is not used for cups and plates; only real china will allow children to realize that it breaks if dropped on the floor.
Another key concept in the Montessori Method is autonomy. When kids arrive in a Montessori preschool, they are usually 2½-3 years old and their level of autonomy is low. Montessori teachers’ aim will be to make them as independent as possible before they leave the first 3-year cycle.
The material designed by Montessori plays a big part in this objective; it is on display, at children’s height, for them to choose from, giving them freedom of choice and action in the classroom. This freedom is always supervised and guided by the teacher but children are not dependent on the adult, which provides them great satisfaction and builds their self-confidence.
Children use the material on their own so, to ensure that they learn from their experiences, self-correction is a crucial characteristic. They learn even more as they understand/deduct by themselves that they’ve made a mistake and the material gently leads them to find the correction.
How Does Self-Correction Work in a Montessori App?
First of all, Montessori apps should not have “uh oh”, “no,no,no” or “buzz” sounds when children make mistakes. Not only are these kinds of feedbacks unproductive (given by adults) but worse, they might scare off children and stop them from trying again.
In Montessori Numberland, the spindle (they look like little sticks) material, found in the “Count” section and when learning about number 0, is made of 45 wooden sticks and 10 boxes numbered from 0 to 9. The child is asked to “put the right number of spindles in each box”. If the child drags a 6th spindle in the 5 box, the spindle gently goes back in the middle. If there are spindles left in the middle when the child is done, he will have to count all the boxes to find the ones where spindles are missing.
Valérie holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from Université du Québec à Montréal and a Masters degree from Lyon Business School. After the birth of her first child (she’s mom to 4 children), she made a career shift and became a Montessori teacher. In 2010, with the upcoming arrival of the iPad, Valérie and two of her friends set up a company called Edoki Academy with the objective to offer quality Montessori-based apps.