Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Montessori Practical Life

Henry has definitely undergone the shift that happens in development between 0-3 years-old and 3-6 years-old. It's fascinating to watch him grow! 

After a conference with each teacher, I realized that I've been over-nurturing certain aspects of his development and unintentionally treating him more like a 6-9 year-old. Matt and I are both Montessori trained in 6-9, so that's where we're more comfortable. For example, Henry has shown interest in "doing research," like wanting to learn more about motorized para-gliders after we saw one on a hike (they are fascinating!) and wanting to research whether or not it's developmentally appropriate for him to get a pedal bike. 

The conference with his teacher reminded me of the importance of good ol' Practical Life for young children (and all children but especially the little ones!). I'd like to set some goals for myself around how to encourage more practical life within our home. As always, when I'm trying to make a change in my life, I have to visualize exactly what I want to see myself doing and--most importantly--when I want to do it:
  1. When Matt is playing soccer on Sunday, that's the optimal time for Henry and me to do some work together, especially when Tate is napping. I ordered him a child-sized broom, so we can sweep the front and back deck together. We can also sweep the driveway and sidewalk. 
  2. Another other time for us to do practical life together would be after school. I cut a sponge in half so we can clean his table, his learning tower, and the high chairs together. 
  3. I'd like to be really intentional about cooking dinner with Henry at least once a week. He definitely helps out with chopping, etc., but I find myself relieved when he's engaged in independent play and I can hurry and cook by myself. I'm going to commit to cooking with him from start to finish (including dishes!) at least once a week.
  4. I ordered these beautiful placemats from Kylie, so we can have more of a process around setting the table for dinner. I also ordered this apron and this apron from my friend Karla for cooking/baking and dishwashing.
  5. I also think we need to slow down the evening process, so that Henry can be more involved with clearing the table and putting away his toys at the end of the day. Right now, Matt shuttles Henry and Tate into the bath right after dinner while I do all the cleaning. I think we should push his bedtime back a little later to make time for these important steps.
I need to go back and watch Edison's Day for the 40th time. It's so grounding and beautiful. It helps me rethink what is possible for young children.

Image courtesy of How We Montessori Shop

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lisa said...

I think it's funny that the first step of including your child seems to involve buying stuff. It kind of reinforces my impression that Montessori exists to encourage people,to spend money doing what most mothers have done everywhere and at every time in history except now, when so many practical skills are lost from our children.

It also makes it seem as if you can't do this stuff without having money to spend. Not true: kids in my house stood on a backwards chair, used a dustpan and brush, and definitely learned to set the table without placemats that had pictures on it. Table setting was a 2 1/2 year old job after I got the dishes down. They learned to count getting silverware.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thanks for commenting, Lisa!

I appreciate the issue you are raising. I didn't mean to imply that any of these things needed to be purchased in order to implement more practical life at home. I do think that child-sized tools (like the broom) set children up for much more success. Fortunately, places like MontessoriServices.com offer really reasonable prices. I got the broom for $8 and both children will be able to use it for many years.

I opted to support my friends' businesses for the placemats and aprons, but they could have been skipped or even made. These are definitely more frivolous items.

Thanks for emphasizing that you can incorporate children into daily life without spending a lot of money. I totally agree; I was just sharing our lives.

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