Maria Montessori said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” She believed that by giving kids space to explore and discover for themselves, they would have a greater understanding and appreciation for the world around them. To help promote those discoveries and independence around your home, follow these tips:
Observe the world from their perspective.
When decorating your child’s room, get down to their level and take a look around. Hang pictures so they can see them. Place toys, books and clothes on lower shelves where they can more easily reach them. But keep it simple. Too much clutter and visual noise can be overstimulating. Instead, choose items that have purpose and/or beauty. Be intentional about your choices.
Give them access.
Small tables and kid-sized furniture allow small children to more comfortably take part in the world around them. For surfaces that cannot be lowered or made smaller, such as kitchen counters, provide step stools.
Let them serve themselves.
At mealtime, let them set their own place by putting their plate, cup and silverware in an easily accessible location. Put small serving bowls near them at the table and let them serve their own food. Provide a small pitcher with a beverage they can pour into their own cup. At the end of the meal, provide a place for them to put their dirty dishes, so they also take part in cleanup.
Present them with possibilities.
Set out a few puzzles, building blocks, craft projects, etc., each day to give them an easily seen choice of things they can work on for that day. Don’t overwhelm your child with too many options. Instead, present them with a few choices each day. One work beloved by many toddlers and preschoolers consists of spooning dried beans from one bowl to another. It may seem simple by adults’ standards, but it is a great exercise for little ones, helping them with hand-to-eye coordination, sequencing, focus, patience and more. Tonging cotton balls, pouring water and polishing pennies with lemon juice are also easy, but educational works for little ones.
Get them involved.
From a young age, kids are capable of helping out in more ways than parents often realize. Get them involved with dusting, food preparations, cleaning sinks (especially when using safe cleaners, such as baking soda), wiping up their spills, matching socks and folding laundry, washing windows with vinegar, etc. If you have a pet, let your child help care for the animal. If the child is younger, place an appropriate-sized serving of food in a small container that they can give to the animal at the right time. For a dog or cat, let them give water to the animal by filling up a cup and putting the water in the bowl.
To learn more about what Montessori means, check out “Montessori Defined.”