Monday, July 6, 2009

Montessori Monday: Chores

I am in the super duper baby steps of starting to learn how to be a teacher to a toddler. So far, Montessori method is the one that resounds most strongly with me-- I have done some reading on it, am a graduate of a Montessori preschool myself, and have interacted with several wonderful families that have used Montessori with their kids. I know there's lots of interest out there in Montessori, and some of you might be interested in what's going on with Zosia, so I thought I would try to make it a point to share some Montessori principles that I am learning and using with Zosia.

My mom always says, whenever asked about my preschool, something to the effect of, "Well, they always had you scrubbing tables." Which is actually true. And now that I know a bit more about Montessori, I understand that this is a principle of the method, and not just my preschool teachers getting lazy. The basic idea is that you should have children do as much as they are capable of doing, even if it means that they don't do it as well as you do, or that they take a long time. This gives them a chance to get the satisfaction of completing tasks for themselves, and, with time, actually means that they start being helpful.

Some things that Zosia does "for herself" include cleaning the table (shown above), setting the table, retrieving new diapers and throwing old ones away, cleaning up toys, putting dirty clothes in the laundry, washing her hands, and mixing ingredients in the kitchen. Obviously, since she's not even two yet, none of these things are done perfectly, but I can honestly say that not only is she very proficient at getting many of these done, but she is a help to me around the house.

One thing that's particularly challenging about this aspect of Montessori is resisting perfectionist urges. If a child repeatedly does something him or herself only to see you immediately go back and "do it right" or correct them, that will ultimately (according to Montessori) reduce their belief in themselves. So, within reason, the goal is to let them do it and then sort of let it be, even if that means having a slightly crumby kitchen table, or whatever. And come on, who can't use an extra pair of hands around the house?

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