If you’ve ever visited a Montessori classroom in action, you might be struck by how calmly the school day progresses, in large part due to the children themselves. The students know where to place their backpacks and hang their jackets. They know when it’s time to play and where each toy belongs. When it’s time to clean up, they wash tables, throw garbage in the trash, and help each other get the room back in shape. Mastering life skills is one of the many goals for the students of a Montessori classroom, and it’s a special blessing for parents.
So how can you reinforce these skills at home?
Provide A Kid-Friendly Environment
For many children, especially young children, the world is a chaotic place. Creating an orderly environment helps them feel more in control. If you’d like to encourage their independence, consider altering their home environment to make it easy for them to do the things they’d love to do themselves.
For example, if your child would like to pour his own cereal, then keep the cereal box in a place they can reach, such as on a lower shelf of the pantry, or set the box on the kitchen table the night before. If they’re old enough to pour milk, but your milk comes by the gallon, you may want to provide a small, lightweight, shatterproof plastic pitcher and keep it on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator so they can fetch it themselves.
Other ideas to promote self-reliance include:
- Keeping their toys in a toy box, or in bins on lower shelves, rather than on high unreachable shelves.
- Folding their underwear, pajamas, and socks in the lower drawers of their bureau.
- Purchasing an adjustable closet rods to bring clothes on hangers within their reach.
- Providing step stools in bathrooms so that kids can reach the sinks themselves.
- Keeping a small chair, bench, or stool near the entrance to your home so kids are reminded to remove muddy shoes.
Chores Help Form A Community
Young kids just love to help. Let them! The laundry may not be folded perfectly, not at first anyway, but if a child shows interest in plucking socks out of the laundry basket, let him match them and ball them up. What preschooler doesn’t love to run a vacuum? A child can also learn how to make, strip, and remake his own bed. Older children can help unload the groceries and put them away, take out the trash, put up holiday decorations, and set the table. Teenagers can empty the dishwasher, go food shopping, and clean the occasional toilet. They’re going to have to learn that sometime!
Make It Easy For Them To Follow Their Interests
Montessori-certified teachers are trained to observe their students very closely in the classroom in order to monitor their progress and take advantage of the emergence of productive developmental phases in which to introduce new skills.
As a parent, you’re in a prime seat to see what sparks your child’s excitement and holds their attention. Encourage those interests by providing whatever they need to explore them. This includes ample, uninterrupted time and an environment without excessive distractions, which encourages focus and concentration, vital for successful learning.
Encouraging independence, self-reliance, and self-motivation at home is a great way to build on the life skill lessons that will be reinforced at their Montessori school.