Have you ever thought of applying the Montessori Approach in Childhood Learning?
Have you asked yourself what are some ways to foster independence at an early age?
After having a baby in 2018, I began searching about the Montessori Method and its Philosophy. I’ve read some books, listened to podcasts and have followed Montessori-Inspired activities online. I’m not a perfect mother and reading information related to it inspired me to seek more!
It made me curious. What is it about? What do I get out of it? What is the philosophy about and what does it say?
As you can remember, our first MomStar of the Month was featured in April 2019 as she shared experiences about Maria Montessori’s philosophy. Read the full blog here: “A Mom of 2 expands Montessori Learning in her Community”.
At the end of this post, be sure to access our FREE Download for your Child’s Developmental Milestones! This will be an excellent resource for both new and experienced parents to find some of the latest information and tips for raising happy and healthy children.
Now today, I am happy to feature another Mom who has happily shared her own Montessori experience at home. Our Guest Blogger for today is Sara, a former Elementary School teacher and is now living her dream of staying home with her daughter as a Virtual Assistant. Read her full post below.
A Quick look at Montessori
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
This is one of my favorite quotes from Maria Montessori.
If you aren’t familiar with the Montessori method, it is an approach to learning with an emphasis on independence and individual interests.
There are so many things you can do at home that follow this philosophy.
If we look at the root of Montessori, it is providing learning opportunities that follow your child’s interest, and opportunities to learn practical life skills!
Starting at a very young age, children crave independence. It’s kind of a “help me help myself” mentality.
I remember the first time I read about this, the author gave an example of a young child doing a puzzle. They specified not to help your child if they seem to get “stuck”. They want to figure it out!
“The first two years are the most important of life. Education during this period must be intended as a help to the development of psychic powers inherent in the human individual.”
If you are a control freak like I am, this was very difficult to watch in the beginning (and still is)! Children need to have the chance for trial and error in their play experiences.
Us taking a step back is what will encourage them to build that independence that will be so crucial for the rest of their lives.
Check out these 15 simple activities that you can easily do at home to foster independence!
“The child progresses towards life because the purpose of the child is the construction of man in the fullness of his strength and in the fullness of his life.”
1. Clean up Toys
If you look in a Montessori classroom or Montessori-inspired home, one thing that it will always have is at least one shelf with a small selection of toys.
The idea is that less = more.
Instead of 25 toys in a basket, choose 5-7 to have neatly out at once. Give the child the opportunity to choose what they want to play with, and model how to put it back when they are done.
My two-year-old LOVES to clean up now. In fact, if we are running late and I try to leave without cleaning up, she says “mama, we clean up!”!
Shoot for open-ended toys, and most likely these will hold their attention the longest. Think blocks, puzzles, sorting activities, and shape stacking. Melissa and Doug has wonderful options!
“No matter what help and assistance he will get later in life if he tries to learn a new language, he will not be able speak it with the same exactitude as he does the one acquired in childhood.”
2. Do Laundry!
Okay, this is one of my daughter’s favorites.
When she was younger, I used to think that I could never get any chores done because I needed to entertain her at all times!
Then, I finally learned that the best thing I can do is just include her in whatever I need to do! Kids love these responsibilities, and you get things done…it’s a win-win!
Have your little one transfer clothes from the hamper to the washing machine, close the door, and push the buttons (so fun!). I guarantee after one time, they will be a pro! I mean, how’s that for cheap labor? Just kidding….
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3. Use a Helper Stool
Kitchen helper, helper chair, learning tower….there’s a million different names for these. Whatever you want to call it…get it!
I’m sure you can relate to trying to cook and your kids wanting to be a part of it. They can be pricy new, so look on your local facebook yardsale site, or build your own.
We went the DIY route, and it cost less than $50.
Once you have one, it allows for all kinds of independence. Making a sandwich? Let them spread the peanut butter/jelly. Making cookies? Give them a turn at stirring the batter. Our favorite is making homemade pizza!
“No one can do the work that the child does in order to construct the man that he has to construct.”
4. Make Avocado Toast
Alright, so this is similar to our last tip, but this specific activity has lots of benefits! It’s also something that can be done at their chair.
Allow them to mash up the avocado and then spread it on the toast. They’ll feel so proud of themselves, and you are sneaking in some healthy food!
Turn this into a daily/weekly breakfast or snack.
5. Hand Washing
The sooner you introduce this…the better.
If you don’t have a helper stool, get a kids step stool (Ikea has them for a few bucks) and let your little one wash their hands before/after eating!
Is anyone else’s toddler obsessed with washing their hands? Must be the bubbles!
This is so simple, but such a great way for your child to feel independent.
“If we compare our ability as adults to that of the child it would require us 60 years of hardworking to achieve what a child has achieved in these first three years. At three, a child is an old man.”
6. Set up a Dish Washing Station
Now, even with a stool, washing dishes in the sink can be difficult for little ones. It’s just too low for them to reach down!
You can use a big Tupperware bin, fill it with water/soap, give your kiddo a scrub brush, and let them try washing their plate or bowl after eating!
Do this every day, and it will quickly become a rewarding routine!
7. Set up a Water Station
Okay, this is one that we are getting ready to try!
Keep a small water dispenser and cups on a table or shelf in your kitchen. Show your child how to get a cup and push down the nozzle when they want a glass of water.
How’s that for independence?!
Montessori promotes using open cups right after bottles are no longer used. You can take baby steps with this one!
I’ve also seen families add some healthy snacks next to the water that are readily available for the child. Google “Montessori water station” for great visual examples!
“No one can do the work that the child does in order to construct the man that he has to construct.”
8. Pour Milk
While we are on the topic of pouring liquids, here’s another easy activity for independence.
At breakfast time, put a small amount of milk in a syrup/creamer dish and allow them to pour it into their cereal on their own.
Yes, this can be messy….at first! They’ll get the hang of it quickly.
If they spill, allow them the chance to clean it up! They typically find this more fun than we do!
“The greatest development is achieved during the first years of life, and therefore it is then that the greatest care should be taken.
9. Sort Utensils
Here’s another chore they can help you with!
When it’s time to empty the dishwasher, give them access to your silverware holder and let them sort your forks, knives, and spoons!
Of course, use your own judgment on the knives.
10. Sweep, Mop, Dust!
Continuing with the household chore theme, little kids LOVE to help with sweeping, mopping, and dusting.
Disclaimer: yes, the sweeping can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help, but just remember your goal here!
11. Keep a House Plant
Keep at least one plant that your child can be responsible for watering each day.
They will be grateful for the responsibility, learn about the importance of nature/taking care of other things, and will make for a great addition in your daily routine.
Do you have a green thumb (I don’t)? Take this activity to your outside garden!
12. Set up a Self-Care Station
This is a biggie in Montessori home life! I’d say it’s one of the most important.
Setting up a simple self-care station in your child’s bathroom or bedroom can provide them with so many opportunities for independence.
There’s no one way to do this, and it does not need to be fancy!
What it does need to be is at their level, where everything they need is accessible.
Some items you can include: a small stool to sit on, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a cup of water, a hairbrush, and a mirror.
You can use a small table, with a bowl of water to wash their hands, brush their teeth, and/or wash their face!
A quick google search of “Montessori self-care station” will give you plenty of visuals! This will for sure be a spot they love. It might make your morning and night routine go a little smoother too….
“Each one is endowed with different kinds of protective instincts; each one is endowed with a different kind of intelligence and all this intelligence is expended for the protection of the young.”
13. Pick Out Their Own Clothes
Lay out a few outfit choices each day for your child to choose from. They will be glad to take ownership of this process!
We bought a cheap dressup wardrobe from a yardsale site that is at my daughter’s eye level. At the beginning of each week, I put enough outfits and pajamas for the week. That way, every morning she can choose what she wants to wear, and I still have some control over weather-appropriate/matching clothing!
At the beginning of each week, I put enough outfits and pajamas for the week. That way, every morning she can choose what she wants to wear, and I still have some control over weather-appropriate/matching clothing!
“For the simple reason that all these years of study, all these years of listening, do not form ‘man’; only practical work and practice do that.”
14. Give Them the Chance to Dress Themselves
I’m not going to lie, this can be very time-consuming!
When you do have the time, give your child a chance to put on their own clothes. It’s great for hand-eye coordination and pincer grip practice. It’s a skill they will need to have eventually…might as well start now!
If they put their shirt or pants on backward, just let it slide. They’ll feel so proud of their efforts!
15. Sleep on a Floor Bed
A traditional Montessori floor bed is simply a mattress on the floor.
If you are familiar with Montessori, you may know that many people will start children on a floor bed as young as infant age.
We made the transition from the crib to floor bed when my daughter turned two. To each their own!
Just like most things in parenting…there’s no “right” way to do it. There are many benefits to a floor bed: you don’t have to worry about your child falling off and hurting themselves, (or using bed rails) and they will love feeling like they have a “big girl/boy bed”.
Another benefit is that on those days when they just won’t nap, they will have access to play with activities in their room so they (and you) will still get quiet time!
You will need to have their room child-proofed and safe before making this transition!
As I mentioned before, you can literally just place their mattress on the floor.
There are also fun “house” floor beds you can find online or DIY!
We took the DIY route (luckily my husband enjoys all these projects) and it cost around $50!
RELATED: 11 EASY FALL ACTIVITIES FOR TODDLERS
“The movements that the child acquires, just as is the case with language, are not formed by chance. They are determined in the sense that they are acquired during a special period.”
You can see that most of these activities are things that you already do on a daily basis, and are skills that your child will need to learn to be an independent person!
The only difference is that you are allowing them the independence to do it on their own, even at a young age.
The biggest piece of advice that I can give is to make resources available and within reach for your little one; it makes all the difference.
And to all my fellow control/clean freak mamas…there will be messes, but you got this!
Leave a comment and let us know what you try, or if you have another favorite activity that builds independence!
About the Author:
Sara lives right outside of Washington D.C. with her husband, their sweet and sassy two-year-old, and their dog Jax.
As mentioned, she was a former Elementary School teacher and is now living her dream of staying home with her daughter.
She recently launched her virtual assistance business and she loves to read and write blog posts on all the mama topics! In need of virtual assistant services? Email her at Sarawhittaker.email@example.com and follow her on Instagram @sarawhit88.
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