One of the most important factors I consider when planning a day of learning for kindergarteners is choice. Montessori education teaches us that individual liberty is essential for each child to develop their own will. A child who can make his or her own choices is then able to choose to follow rules and voluntarily do what adults ask them.
In other words, children need make lots of choices in order to learn to make positive ones.
Every time an adult offers a child choices, they are helping a child become an independent, thinking individual. For young children, adults are responsible for offering a limited number of age appropriate choices.
There are lots of times when it doesn’t seem possible to give children choices. But experience has shown me that there are more choices to offer than we first realize. For example, when the kids sit on the carpet for a whole group activity they choose a safe way to sit: criss cross or with their legs folded to the side. They choose hands in their laps or on their knees.
I love the proud smiles when the kids get their bodies ready to listen- they sit up a little taller knowing they have made a safe choice with their bodies.
Another time of day that is an opportunity for choice is literacy work time. At this time, there are a variety of activities the kids can work on to promote reading, writing, and fine motor skills. The work is on the shelves, in the library tubs, or in book boxes. The children flow from activity to activity at their own pace. This time of day seems like it could be a free-for-all, but is often one of the most focused and meaningful learning times because the kids choose.