I’ve recently had a few emails with questions on how I first began doing Montessori with L. I thought it would be easiest if I just responded in a few posts.
I would like to start off by saying that I am by no means an expert and have no formal Montessori training. Everything I have done with L I’ve learned from books, blogs and the Internet. These posts will be about how I personally have tried to incorporate the Montessori Method in my home with my daughter. I don’t know if what I’ve done is “right” or not but it seems to be working for us.
I think the best way to start is always with Practical Life. At around 14 months I started involving L in every day activities such as helping to prepare meals, baking, cleaning, doing laundry, loading the dishwasher, watering the plants, and cleaning the windows. Anything really. Children love to transfer things into other things so loading the washing machine is always a bit hit.
A few important things to remember when doing Practical Life with toddlers are:
-to make sure you have enough time and are not rushed
-not to expect perfection
-expect a mess
-have fun and stay in the moment it’s the process not the product that counts
Here are a few examples of what L and I have done.
Baking gingerbread cookies. We always put on aprons before we start. This way she knows that we are about to do baking or cooking. Next we wash our hands.
The first time we did this L was still in a highchair so I put the bowl on her tray. I measured out the ingredients into measuring cups and L poured them into the bowl. She then stirred them all up and helped to knead the dough.
Once it was ready I rolled it out on her tray and she pushed the cookie cutters into it with my help.
When we were done I did a general clean up of the flour on her tray and then gave her a cloth to clean her tray and herself. We then enjoyed a yummy snack together.
As she’s gotten older and had more practice she is obviously capable of doing more steps herself.
Making Pita Pizzas. This is still a favourite for L. The key is to prepare everything ahead of time here. Get some whole wheat pita bread, tomato sauce, grated cheese and any topping you would like. Chop them finely(this helps the veggies blend in with everything else). Depending on the age of your child you can give them one ingredient at a time or lay them all out in order from left to right. Also depending on how patient your child is you can either demonstrate each step first or make a pizza along side them. Think of the pride your child will have in making dinner for the whole family!! Make sure you let them help in the clean up as well. Give them a sponge or cloth to help clean their work surface.
Cleaning the bathroom. We just did this one today. I give L a cloth with soapy water and let her wipe down the bathtub, outside of the toilet, sink and now she also cleans her own little toilet. I spray the mirrors and she wipes them with paper towel. While she is doing this I use a proper bathroom cleaner to clean the all the other bits. This helps her to have a real sense of care of herself and her environment while contributing to the running of the household.
It’s also wonderful to have a place where you child can have their own cleaning supplies such as a cloth, sponge, duster, small dust pan and broom. Make sure these are usable and not just toys. Then they can clean whenever they get the urge. One time L cleaned our whole hallway with a small sponge!!
These are just a few examples which I hope some of you will find useful. Try to have fun and don’t force your child into doing anything they don’t want to do.
Two books that I found very useful are Teach Me to Do it Myself : Learning Activities for You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic and Montessori Read and Write: A Parent's Guide to Literacy for Children by Lynne Lawrence
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