Last week, my sister and I were having a little mom-to-mom chat. My sister’s little girl is just reaching toddlerhood and she is giving her home the kid-safe-and-friendly-overhaul. I suggested that she might take this opportunity to bring some of the benefits of the Montessori Method into the mix. She agreed, so long as any ideas were both practical and affordable. Thus, we came up with the following helpful and do-able tips…
A place for everything, everything in its place. Do you know who first coined this phrase? Nope, it wasn’t your mother, it was Benjamin Franklin. Take his advice and create a proper place for your child’s things. Then show kids how to put their things away. Do keep it kid friendly; for example, use shelves, baskets, or cubbies that are within your child’s reach. Make it easy for children to succeed at returning things to their proper places. Demonstrate how to put things away, all the while explaining why it this important (…so things don’t get broken, so that you can find things, so that others don’t step on or trip over things, etc.) and encouraging them to do so independently.
Rotate the toys and activities within your child’s reach. Don’t clutter and confuse by trying to puttoo many things out at once. Rotate a limited selection of items every few weeks. Keep the rest tucked out of sight, ready to be discovered anew at some future date. (Bonus: you get a lot more mileage out of the same toys this way.)
Welcome your child throughout your home. Have a child-friendly area in many (if not every) room of your home. Have low shelves or a child-size table and chair. Provide children’s books, art supplies, and other kid-friendly learning materials. Everyday, real-life items such as small plates, cups, and utensils are great for developing practical life skills.
Listen to the Sound of Music. Have a special place for listening to music and an audio system that kids can operate themselves. Provide a variety of different styles of music. This would be a great spot to keep a xylophone, drum, or other musical instruments made for kids.
Give them the tools. Have an area with hooks to hang cleaning supplies such as a mini broom and dustpan, a cleaning cloth for spills, or a small bucket and sponge. Show your child how to use these items and how to return them to their places when finished.
Be friends with nature. Go outside together. Take the time to really looks at the leaves, grass, flowers, whatever. Let children collect a few samples and have a special nature shelf or table to keep them. Show your child how to care for these items. Treat them with the same respect you’d show any of your belongings. As your child’s most influential role model, you can never be too respectful or courteous.
Set the example. Teach through showing and modeling, instead of lecturing and criticizing. Provide clear, step-by-step information, and then allow kids the time and space they need for self-mastery. Remember that too much help is actually a hindrance. Don’t get in the way of your child’s concentration! As Maria Montessori is so famous for saying:
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
Learn more about bringing the benefits of the Montessori Method in your home.