“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independ-ence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities which they can perform themselves and which keep them from being a burden to others because of their inabilities. We must help them to learn how to walk with-out assistance, to run, to go up and down stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash them-selves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.”
“Help me to do it myself”
• Slow down. One of the benefits of the Montessori preschool and toddler envi-ronment is the abundance of time. We are careful to preserve an unhurried day for our students, so that we can go at a toddler’s pace. Teachers plan for snack time to take up to 45 minutes. It’s perfectly all right if it takes 10 minutes to get everything ready, and 15 minutes to clean everything up: that slowness is when learning happens! At home, you won’t always have the time to slow down for your child. But it helps to think through your day to see if you can make time with those tasks where you’ll encourage your child’s independence. If weekdays are just too crazy (we understand!), then set aside an hour or two on the weekend. Spend time together in the kitchen, for example, to jointly prepare a meal.
• Embrace error. When toddlers and preschoolers learn, it can get messy. Things can and will get broken; liquids will spill; food will land on the floor. In Montessori preschool, we view all of this as a natural part of learning, not as mistakes. Clean-up is therefore a part of every activity, not something separate from it. For exam-ple, when we work with water, there’s always a sponge or cloth handy to wipe up spills. Dr. Montessori called this being friendly with error, and it’s a valuable idea to keep in mind as you help your child become more independent at home. Buy cheap plates that you won’t be mind seeing broken.
• Power struggles decrease when a child feels more in control. Frustrations are less frequent when a child is busy doing things for himself rather than resisting his parent’s efforts to do things for him!
HOME RESPONSIBILITIES FOR 1,2 and 3 YEAR OLDS
Clean up toys and put them in their proper place.
Put books and magazines in a rack.
Sweep the floor.
Place napkins, plates, and silverware on the table.
Clean up what they drop after eating.
Make a choice from a selection of 2 different breakfasts so as to start decision-making.
Make a choice from a selection of 2 different outfits so as to startdecision-making.
Start toilet training. (2+)
Take care of simple personal hygiene: brush teeth; wash and dry hands; brush hair.
Undress and self-dress with some help.
Wipe up spills by him/herself.
Carry boxed or canned goods from grocery bags to the proper shelf.
Clean up own place at the table. Put the dishes on the counter after cleaning the leftovers off the plate.
HOME RESPONSIBILITIES FOR A 4 YEAR OLD
All of the above and…
Set the table-with proper dishes.
Put the groceries away.
Help with groceries shopping and compile a grocery list.
Polish shoes and clean up afterwards.
Follow a schedule for feeding pets.
Help do yard and garden work.
Help make beds and vacuum.
Help do dishes or fill the dishwasher.
Dust the furniture.
Spread butter or jam on sandwiches.
Prepare cold cereal.
Help parents prepare plates of food for the family dinner.
Make a simple dessert.( Add topping to cupcakes, jello, pour the toppings on ice cream)
Hold the hand mixer to whip potatoes or mix a cake.
Share toys with friends (Practice courtesy)
Play without constant adult supervision and attention.
Take out laundry and hang socks, and washcloths on a line.
Wash the car.
Clean the mirrors.
HOME RESPONSIBILITIES FOR A 5 YEAR OLD
All of the above and…
Help with meal planning and grocery shopping.
Make a sandwich or simple breakfast, cleaning up afterwards.
Pour own drink.
Prepare the dinner table.
Tear up lettuce for a salad.
Put certain ingredients into a recipe.
Making bed and clean room.
Dress and choose own outfits for the day.
Scrub the sink, toilet and bathtub.
Clean mirrors and windows.
Separate clothing for washing. Putting white clothes in one separate pile and col-ored in another.
Fold clean clothes and put them away
Help clean out the car.
Take part in the decisions of how they want to spend weekends and family vaca-tions.
Take out the garbage.
Feed their pets and clean out pet living areas.
Learn to tie shoes.