One of the passions that goes along with owning a Montessori school, is connecting with parents and hearing from them the concerns/hopes/dreams they have for their children. Saturday we hosted a parent gathering to discuss encouraging your child's independence while setting boundaries as well as how to bring the Montessori values and principles into the home. We had a very nice turnout! The conversation with rich with parents sharing their struggles at home and their desire to do things differently to not only be effective, but to build loving/supportive relationships with their children. In the classroom, the idea of independence and the encouragement of independence is in many ways easier than at home because our entire space is set up for the children and they have the privilege of functioning where counters, sinks, bathrooms, shelves etc are at their level. At home, it can be a bit more challenging because things aren't necessarily accessible to them or made for their size and there are other things happening at home that aren't happening at school that can make it challenging for children to be independent. However, there are many things you can do to provide space/items so children can be independent. Here are some ideas:
**Provide your child with smaller size dishes those can be placed where they are able to get them by themselves
**Have a small pitcher in the refrigerator at their level so they can pour their own water/juice/milk
**Don't have too many clothes in their bedroom/closet so that they can choose their clothing daily-don't battle over appropriate clothing during particular weather-allow their choice to play out. If they are cold, they will put on a jacket and if they are too hot, they will figure that out as well. It's important that they have a choice over their clothing/jackets etc. After all, how does one determine for another what is 'too hot' and 'too cold'?
**Provide small/inexpensive shelves for the bedroom/playroom so the things they work/play with are displayed so they can see them. Begin to ask them to pull out one 'work' at a time. When they are finished with that 'work', they return it before getting out another. This is something they are used to in the classroom. Display items in baskets, small plastic containers or trays. If you have younger siblings, place things with small pieces higher on the shelf and get your child a step stool so they can reach what they need. If you are concerned about smaller pieces because of siblings, ask your child to use certain 'works' on a table where it is safe for the brother/sister.
**For outside play, provide child sized rakes, shovels etc so they can be part of yard work and gardening. The movement outdoors with Mom and/or Dad is great!
**If you need your child to do something or you need to go somewhere soon, ask the child 'Can you let me know when you are ready?'...you will be pleasantly surprised how easily they transition when they feel they have some control and are being respected about what it is they are engaged in.
**Try to say 'yes' more! This may seem silly to mention, but many times, 'no' is our first response. Take a moment to think before you respond or even tell your child you need some time to think before answering.
Most of all, enjoy your children! They are so amazing~creative, smart, resourceful, fun, loving, compassionate, and are full of life! Allow your child to teach you about him/her...they are unfolding and becoming their own little person. We can love and support them as they learn how to engage with life and learn to be independent and contribute what they have to offer to the world!