Dr. Maria Montessori referred to education as an aid to life and she referred to independence as the child’s greatest gift. To foster independence, we offer the child choices and the opportunity to do things for oneself. Whenever the child asks for help in doing a task, such as putting on a jacket or buttoning a shirt, it is important that we show the child how to do this task and then undo it so that the child can have the opportunity to do it for himself. Dr. Montessori stated that, “Every unnecessary help is an obstacle to development.”
Within the classroom, the Practical Life area directly impacts and encourages the child’s independence. The Practical Life area gives the child the opportunity to learn how to care for oneself as well as how to care for the environment.
Materials that we use to aid the child in learning to care for oneself include: the dressing frames (which include fastenings such as buttons, snaps or zipper), hand washing and cloth washing.
Materials that aid the child in learning to care for the environment involve sweeping; mopping up a spill; polishing silver, wood and shoes; and table washing.
The materials in the Practical Life area are crucial for the child's early work in the classroom environment. These materials aid the child in developing concentration, building independence, gaining control of movement and following through with a logical sequence of action.
These activities also prepare the child for his or her later work in the Sensorial, Math and Language areas of the classroom.
Outside of the classroom, Practical Life connects easily to life at home, aiding the child in building a bridge between home and school. There are some very simple ways to help your home become more accessible to your child. Some general principles for Montessori at home are:
Our goal is to help the child to do things by him or herself and it's important for children to have the opportunity to do things for themselves so that they know how capable they are! While it takes more planning, it's much easier and better for the child in the long run.
When preparing a space with the child in mind, we offer low shelving with limited numbers of toys, books and games. By offering a limited number, we're increasing the chance for a successful clean up and also those items tend to get more use. You can store the extra toys, books and games in a "treasure chest". Periodically you can bring the treasure chest out for your child to put in an "old" toy and take out a "new" toy. Rotating the toys creates new interest.
When thinking about an eating space for the child, a small, low table and chair are wonderful to use for snacks. There are some great ideas out there to allow your child to be independent in preparing his or her own snacks such as adding a small pitcher in the refrigerator or a low shelf in the pantry with acceptable snack options.
Including your child in preparing of the meal, setting the table or helping to clear the table, load the dishwasher or sweep the kitchen after the meal is over all help your child to be an active participant in daily life. Offering child sized cleaning tools along with your own is also great incentive. And adding stools by the sinks, in the bathroom or other areas of the house give your child the opportunity to exercise independence.
"All the efforts of growth are efforts to acquire independence. A matter of vital importance to an individual is that he should be able to function by himself. In order to grow and develop, the child needs to acquire independence. When does the child need to begin to do things by himself without our help? The answer is simple. The child needs to do things by himself from the beginning of life, from the moment he is capable of doing things. This urge is revealed again and again by the child. We have so often heard children of a few years of age say: "Help me do it by myself." By helping the child to do things by himself you are helping the independence of the child." --Dr. Maria Montessori.
Working in the garden - developing balance and strength walking with the wheelbarrow.
Building and creating in the sandbox, discovering new textures
and what happens when you mix sand and water.
Working with some of the language objects - learning the names of common
tools and matching the tool to a picture.
Cleaning the window - hand strength and motor coordination, completing a task successfully, and enjoying a clean window!
'Fixing the boat' - language, following directions, prepositions
'Row, row, row your boat' - music, movement, coordination and balance
Washing snack dishes - mixed ages allow the younger children to learn from the older members of the community, and older children take on a leadership role.
Having a great time listening to music!
Working on pincer grip, hand strength and fine motor control.
Whew! We have had a busy 2 weeks and the children are settling into the classroom routine beautifully. Remember -'Montessori 101' our parent education night is next Tuesday, September 25. RSVP here
Last week we welcomed our new and returning toddlers and tomorrow morning we will begin our regular schedule. We are looking forward to a wonderful year! Below is some information about the toddler class at COLCMS and some pictures of our toddlers from the phase-in week.
There are many firsts in toddler-hood, and starting school for the first time is often an occasion marked by mixed feelings. From the time your child was born, you have been the center of her world. In ever expanding concentric circles, her world has expanded. First to immediate family, then to other trusted caregivers, then to new friends, and now the whole new world of school. It is our hope that this blog will keep you updated and informed about what is happening in this exciting new world.
- Ms. Stefanie and Ms. Lise
The toddler class provides a safe environment for children for children to grow and learn based on their particular needs. Tables and chairs are very small and the teacher/child ratio is lower. The environment offers toddlers a special atmosphere of understanding, respect, and support as they explore and grow.
Toddlers have many opportunities throughout the day to work towards developing language, art, music, motor, social, and practical like skills. The practical life area of the classroom provides students an opportunity to care for themselves and the classroom. The wipe up spills, set the table for lunch, clean up after themselves, etc.
Repeated successes help the child build self-esteem through these very real activities. Self-esteem is not something that we can give children, but rather a feeling that comes from within - the satisfaction of knowing 'I can do it!'
Gross and fine motor development is fostered through a variety of manipulative activities which increase in difficulty as the child's skills become more refined. Simple sensorial activities allow the toddlers to respond to the urge to use their whole bodies to explore everything around them. There are many exercises which also help strengthen and develop the necessary muscles needed for writing.
The toddler program is also designed to meet the very young child's sensitive period for language by offering creative concepts to expand their growing vocabularies. Stories, songs, games, poems, objects representing everyday items, books, and language cards all help nurture growing language skills. The toddlers also learn the names for the feelings they experience as they have some of their earliest social interactions.
Self-help skills that lead to independence are another vital part of the Montessori toddler program. Children are gently encouraged to hang up their own jacket, put on an apron, or carry a large puzzle, rather than say 'I can't.' At all times the adults strive to answer the child's need to 'help me do it by myself!'
Guided and independent work, freedom of choice within limits, creative outlets such as art and music, and opportunities for movement all come together to create a safe space for growth.
As a parent you will always be your child's first and most important teacher. Remember, you are not teaching a child, but the adult he will one day become. Have faith in your child and know that in this first of many steps toward independence, you have made an excellent choice at COLCMS!
"If help and salvation are to come,
they can only come from the children,
for the children are the makers of men."
Dr. Maria Montessori
We are an AMI accredited Montessori school growing daily in spirit & intellect!