Teach Me to Do It Myself
“Foster Independence and Self-Esteem Will Grow.” Maria Montessori
Have you ever seen this sign:
I always chuckle when I see that because if I had a sign it would read, "Clean up after yourself, your mother DOES work here." My mom took every opportunity to teach us how to take responsibility for ourselves, from making our beds to cooking to mowing the lawn. Even though this method created more work for her when we were young, it saved her time and stress when we got older. By then my siblings and I knew what was expected of us and we knew how to do it. We had become independent, confident and responsible teens.
Heart to Heart With Diane
One of my favorite homeschooling moms, Diane Hopkins, recently wrote a blog about this very topic entitled Hard Easy. It addresses the dilemma parents often have regarding when to teach their children new skills, proper behavior and responsibility. Should parents wait until the child is older, which seems easier for the parent? Or should they teach their child new skills when the child is young, even if that road begins a little harder for the parent? Diane's conclusion is that if you start with the harder road first, it becomes easier as the child approaches adolescence. However, if you start with the easier road of doing everything for the child, then not only does the situation become more difficult, it often ends in disaster. She correlates a high self-esteem with the ability to do for oneself, a true Montessori principle. Here’s a quote from her post,
...“I made them all by myself”, there is some honest-to-goodness self-esteem and confidence brewing. Mom now has a helper, and an eager learner who wants to gain his parent’s skills and knows he is a contributing family member. Self-control has increased....
Diane writes practical and profound articles that show her depth of understanding of children. Whether you are a homeschooling parent, a parent, a teacher or one who works with children, I highly recommend that you check out her blog, Heart to Heart with Diane.
The Brilliance of Montessori
One of the wonderful concepts about Montessori schools is that they provide the environment and activities that allow children to learn new skills and responsible behavior in a natural way. The children learn at an early age to work and care for their environment and themselves, as well as take responsibility for their learning. They are taught to clean up after themselves, push in chairs and choose lessons that they are interested in, which enhances the learning. These practices are continued through the elementary years and even into high school with age appropriate activities that increase skill and responsibility. As a result, the children gain a high self-esteem and a sense of dignity. We may not always want to take the Hard Easy road, but in the long run, it is the path that is best for our children.