A little while ago Gypsy made a comment and suggested that I post about L using a mat. So here it is...
To be honest I never really thought about it until Gypsy brought it up. When I got to thinking I realised that L actually uses four mats! Her work mat(for table activities), floor mat, place mat and play dough mat for messy work. That's a lot of mats! Obsessive? Me? Maybe.
As far as getting L to use a work mat I have to admit there was no forethought in it whatsoever. The first book I read on the Montessori Method was David Gettman's Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under Fives. In his book he outlines the activities and talks about the use of a work mat. So I just started L with a table work mat from the introduction of the very first activity. (This was at about 15 months) Once I finally made it to Ikea and found a floor mat I introduced that one as well.
I think that if you start little ones with something from the beginning they don't know any different. L is used to getting her mat before doing an activity. Sometimes I will remind her but she knows to get it right away. I really like using them because they define her work space and show her that she is doing her "work" and not just playing or messing about.
L does have certain activities that she can do anywhere, like her lacing beads and opening jars but in general she uses a work mat for everything. So much so that when my Aunt came to visit and they were going to do her fishing activity together L got out her floor mat first to lay it out on!
I still help her lay out and fold up the floor mat and she puts it back onto her shelf. Once we move to Canada I will look for a mat that we can roll up and then introduce rolling to her. I find it a bit odd but L has always remembered where everything goes and the exact name of every activity so it makes things a lot easier. If I first introduce an activity on the floor she will do it on the floor every time.
I would suggest for people who haven't used mats and want to start introducing them with the activities to just choose a new activity and when you introduce it just add the mat in as a step in the activity. Then for every new activity just put the mat step at the beginning. I'm not sure if this is the correct thing to do but it works well for us. I would love to hear other people's opinions.
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