Today’s blog is brought to you by our guest blogger, KellyAnn Mcnamara, the Assistant Director of Training, Policies & Procedures.
One question that all of our teachers hear from our parents is “What can I do at home?” It is natural for families to want to feel connected to their child’s school and our teachers absolutely love when a child can show off their Montessori skills at home. However, deciding how to integrate Montessori into your home may be a daunting task. The Montessori curriculum is made up of so many beautiful areas-sensorial, language, geography, math, etc. but one of the easiest areas to incorporate into your home is Practical Life.
Lessons in the practical life area will teach your child the skills they will need for virtually everything else in life. Practical life is the practice of daily living such as bathing, dressing, preparing food, eating, interacting with and caring for others, shopping, cleaning and repairing the home, and moving from place to place, to name just a few. This daily work is usually seen as dull to an adult, but these tasks are highly interesting and exciting to a child because they just want to do what they see others doing especially the grown-ups they look up to.
When a child is helping clear the table or wash dishes after a family dinner, they are developing their sense of order, concentration, coordination, independence, self-confidence, responsibility, and accomplishment.
The child is also strengthening their muscles and refining their fine and gross motor skills. It is amazing the skills that can be learned just by helping with the dishes and all of these skills are invaluable as a child grows and learns.
Teach me how to do it myself—this is what the practical life tasks are all about. These tasks will help children learn to function in their environment and lay the foundation for more advanced learning. Letting young children do it themselves is hard for many parents. But in order to build independence and body control children need to be allowed to make mistakes. Spilling and making a mess while trying a new task is part of the process. It is when your child is guided towards wiping up a spill or picking up something that has fallen that their pride will blossom. It is up to us, the adults, to slow down and allow children the moment to figure it out. It is then that we can see problem-solving skills and independence begin to develop.
Families can encourage their child to help prepare a meal, clean up after themselves, feed the family pet, set the table, use a dustpan to sweep up, help with laundry, hang up coats, water plants, or dust the furniture. There are endless amounts of opportunities for the child to practice their skills and lend a helping hand to their families.
Many parents ask the purpose of teaching the children to do these everyday tasks and how it will help them with more advanced topics. When children work on practical life lessons at home and school you will see their need for order and repetition. This is how they learn. These lessons develop concentration and focus that will help them for when they are ready to learn to read or when they are in the math area practicing addition or subtraction. Dr. Montessori discovered after years of research that children would choose real-life activities over imaginary activities almost every time. Children want to feel needed and important in their world. Allowing children to participate in real life activities, which will help their families or classroom, are wonderful for fostering self-esteem as well.
Practical life lays the foundation and develops the skills a child will need for all other academic areas, even once they graduate Apple Montessori.
These real-life lessons will help children develop coordination, concentration, independence and a sense of order. All of these skills will help them immensely in their future academic lives and should help make your home run more smoothly.
Here are a few tips to help you get started with bringing Montessori into your home:
- Create a child-sized environment whenever possible. For example, a child cannot be expected to pour their milk onto their cereal straight from the carton, but they can from a child size pitcher.
- Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself or your child. Make small and gradual changes such as adding a lower coat hook for your child to hang their own coat up and having your child prepare a simple snack.
- Only add items or tasks when you are ready to model how to use them. When you model the activity make sure to move slowly so your child can take it all in.
- Model happiness! Sweeping up a spill may not be the most exciting activity, but children are more likely to want to do something if it looks like you enjoy it.