Building independence in young children
Rochelle Cutler provides useful advice on encouraging young children to become more independent.
One of the fundamental principles of Montessori education is helping children to be as independent as possible, according to their present level of development.
We can help even the smallest babies by:
* Putting them on a floor mat so that they can move their bodies freely.
* Hanging a mobile above them so that they can practise focusing their eyes and work towards using their arms and legs to touch the objects and make them move about.
* Placing them near a secure floor mirror so that they can see themselves moving and easily watch everyone around them in the reflection, whilst lying on their mat and practising the skills mentioned above.
With slightly older babies, we can encourage their independence by letting them:
* Hold a spoon during mealtimes and work towards using it to feed themselves.
* Have a drink in a cup without a lid (from when they can sit up unaided).
* Pull off their socks and shoes.
* Help undress and dress themselves.
* Choose between two options (e.g. red or green socks, teddy or ball).
* Washing their hands.
Toddlers can help with so many practical activities in the home such as:
* Unloading the dishwasher
* Sorting the washing into piles
* Helping clean with a damp sponge or duster
* Putting pre-cut vegetables into a pan
* Cutting soft fruit with a blunt knife
* Carrying their cup and plate to the sink
* Doing up a zip or undoing buttons
* Opening and closing boxes, drawers, doors etc.
Of course, children don’t always want to help and sometimes they will abandon a job halfway through but that’s alright - we never force anything and, often, turning it into a game will help them finish. When children do help, they seem very proud of themselves and, apart from developing co-ordination, independence and self confidence, it helps small children feel like a valuable part of their family, gives them a sense of their place in the household and introduces the idea of everyone doing their part.
These ideas are just to get you thinking of other ways that your child can help out in the home and be independent wherever they are. I hope you have found them interesting and thought provoking and would love to hear back from you about your experiences and successes!
Read Rochelle's profile here
Rochelle Cutler provides useful advice on encouraging young children to become more independent. One of the fundamental principles of Montessori education is helping children to be as independent as possible, according to their present level of development.