Helping children develop independence is a foundational part of the Montessori community.  From the moment children are born, they begin working on strengthening their independence.  Helping to provide opportunities for children to explore their capabilities is the work of both parents and teachers and is supported by the structure of the Montessori classroom.

Dr. Montessori speaks about overhearing a young child asking an adult to “help me do it myself” rather than the adult doing it for them.  This concept is the idea behind a child’s quest for independence.  I recently saw this flow chart for independence, and I think it provides a straightforward, simple process for adults to follow when trying to determine appropriate independence.


Powerful in its simplicity, this flowchart helps us see how independence means different things for children at different ages and stages of development. Looking for ways to support children in the process of being independent is one of the most important works of Montessori teachers and parents.  While this work is challenging for us as adults, the wonderful reward is that we are able to help children develop into strong, capable adults.

Helping children become independent is our work in that we have to know consciously what not to do as well as what to do in order to help them build independence.  The importance of this work is reinforced by the fact that we know independence is best built, over time, with support, giving children the chance to fail, try again, and ultimately succeed.  This process develops a growth mindset and also gives us the opportunity to convey to our children that we believe they are capable of success.  Here is a quick video that shares another perspective of supporting children’s independence with 4 simple steps: 1) do it FOR them, 2) do it WITH them, 3) WATCH them do it, and 4) let them do it INDEPENDENTLY.

To support your child’s development of independence, look for ways to allow your child to learn and expand their own capabilities and enjoy watching the strength and confidence they develop in the process.

Supporting Independence

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Mountain Shadows Montessori School offers AMI programs for students 12 months to 12 years old.

...So, what is AMI?

Association Montessori Internationale

AMI is the organization that is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the integrity of Maria Montessori's legacy. Mountain Shadows and AMI share a mission to support children's natural development and to help them become the transformative force of society.

This comes with a commitment to a standard of excellence, defined by...


Rigorous and extensive training

including the study of child development and a deep understanding of the Montessori materials to assist the teacher in creating the environment necessary for this work.


Three-year age ranges

within each classroom that allow children to work at their own pace and level of development.


Extended work time,

including a three hour uninterrupted work cycle.


Upholding international standards

through expert consultation every three years and regular and ongoing study of pedagogy and practice.

For your child, this means...


Whether it's digging in the dirt or discovering the universe.


Whether it's speaking your mind or learning to speak up.


Whether it's composing a song or coming up with a big idea.


Whether it's for ourselves or for others.


Whether it's work or play.

Critical Thinking

Whether it's studying science or solving a problem.


Whether it's doing your part or doing what's right.


Whether it's planning your day or preparing your own lunch.


Whether it's deciding together or sharing the work.


Whether it's supporting your friends or saving the planet.

This is what Mountain Shadows means for your child.