Many parents find themselves in a constant battle to pick up after their children. It’s a daily, never-ending job, but have you ever wondered what life would be like if your children actually picked up after themselves? This is not about a magical, mythical fairyland that parents can only dream about. This fairyland is real, it is called independence. Having a place for everything, on a child-friendly scale, means that your children will know where to find what they need, and have a place to put things when they’re done. It all begins with the organization in your home.
Montessori children learn to take care of themselves and their classroom and to be helpful to others. They wash tables, organize shelves, prepare food and assist younger children. In addition to the satisfaction of mastering real-life skills, they come to see themselves as valued members of the community. These children can easily transfer these learned skills to your home.
Simplifying your home environment enables children to understand what is expected of them with your support, encouragement, and consistent gentle reminders, young children are truly capable of returning items to their rightful places.
Consider limiting toy choices and providing open shelves (instead of toy boxes where toys get heaped in a pile) at your child’s eye level. This allows them to see all of their choices and return objects to their correct places. Sorting smaller items, such as puzzles, art supplies, and blocks by category into trays and baskets makes them accessible and your children can easily put them away. Swapping things out when you observe your children growing tired or bored with the items currently available will keep them interested in playing with new and familiar favorites. The space will stay neat and tidy and the items will be highly valued and cared for.
Welcoming young children into the kitchen is one of the easiest ways to support your child’s growing independence at home. Groceries can be placed on low, easy-to-reach shelves, so your children can make choices and be responsible for replacing items to their correct places. A stool placed near the countertop will invite help with washing dishes or food preparation. Consider using a child-sized pitcher and small drinking glass allows your children to pour water when they are thirsty, teaches them to exercise care using real dishes, and supports their growing autonomy in taking care of their needs. Young children can also peel vegetables, fold their clothes, match their socks, sweep the floor, and care for pets. The pride and pleasure that they receive in doing their own work, will have a lasting and meaningful effect. These learned skills will serve them for life.
Montessori isn’t just for the classroom.! You can easily bring its principles into your home and doing so can be an invaluable bridge to reinforcing what your children learn at school.