Children are always learning and growing. However, one of the aspects of learning that the Montessori method attempts to address is mistakes. Even as adults, it doesn’t always feel good when you’re completing a task and someone tells you you’re not doing it correctly. While constructive criticism is a natural part of life, Dr Maria […]

Children are always learning and growing. However, one of the aspects of learning that the Montessori method attempts to address is mistakes. Even as adults, it doesn’t always feel good when you’re completing a task and someone tells you you’re not doing it correctly.

While constructive criticism is a natural part of life, Dr Maria Montessori believed the teacher should “give their lesson, plant the seed and then disappear, observing and waiting, but not touching.” This belief has developed one of the most important Montessori principles – control of error.

Here’s a closer look at this Montessori principle:

What Is Control of Error?

Numerous studies suggest that rejection, abandonment and criticism are three of the most traumatising psychological effects on an individual. A key feature of Montessori education is freedom. Therefore, children are free to indulge their curiosity and explore their Montessori environment with little help from a teacher or parent, and this includes making mistakes.
All Montessori materials have a built-in control of error, which allows children to identify their mistakes and correct them without help from a teacher or parent. This ensures they learn from their own mistakes without someone telling them what they did wrong.

Why it’s an important part of Montessori?

One of the key features of all Montessori materials is that it provides students with instant feedback. These self-correcting materials enable a child to recognise, understand, correct and learn from their mistakes. Through this, children rely completely on themselves, which nurtures a level of freedom that ensures they take control and are not afraid to take risks. This is a wonderful way to boost a child’s confidence and motivation to learn.

Control of Error in Learning Materials

The Montessori cylinder block is a great example of control of error. A child can visually determine if a block doesn’t fit correctly and will be unable to fit all the cylinders into the correct positions if one block is out of place. Another example of control of error is one that may leave parents feeling a bit anxious. An excellent way to ensure children learn from their mistakes is for them to handle glass or breakable materials. If a glass breaks while a child is using it, they may find themselves in tears, but it’s a great lesson for them to handle these materials with care in the future.

Here are a few benefits of Control of Error:

  • It’s a wonderful way for children to develop their independence when it comes to learning.
  • It boosts their self-esteem and confidence and provides the space for them to get to know themselves as they become aware of their strengths.
  • They receive instant feedback on their progress which allows them to correct themselves.
  • It allows them to understand that making mistakes is part of the learning process.
  • Improves their problem-solving abilities.

Children should never be afraid to make mistakes, as this limits their desire to explore, diminishes their curiosity and stops them from challenging themselves. When you allow children to take control of their own mistakes and learn to self-correct, it provides them with the mindset that mistakes are a part of life and there is no right or wrong answer.