My daughter is already 22 months old and I’m realizing it’s so much work to prepare her environment at home. I’m not trying to make a perfect environment for her. I make minimum effort otherwise I will be a stressed, fussy mom leaving my every day’s house work behind.
There are some points I always follow in order to make a Montessori environment for her independence and development.
1. Follow your child’s orderly sense
Children in this age group are nourished and made secure by the order of things. Therefore, we need to prepare an environment for the child that demonstrates order and structure in action. Experiences of order assist her in developing her will. “What, when, and where” provide the opportunities for these expectations and the structure and opportunity for limits and discipline. We want to make it clear to the child in her daily life: what to expect, when to expect it, and where to expect it.
2. Share your work at home with your child
When you are cleaning, washing dishes, folding clothes etc…. please share your work with your child as long as she is interested so the child feels that she is involved and she is no longer a baby who needs somebody’s help. Children need to experience work in collaboration with adults for it to have an educational purpose. Once the child has started her work, encourage her to complete her work. The child needs to repeat the process for perfection. Once the child feels that she is capable, she gains self-confidence and self-esteem. Eventually, the child learns concentration, patience, logical sequence, responsibility and independence through work.
3. Organize her environment
Let your child know where her belongings are to help your child develop her orderly sense. All her belongings have to be accessible for her. Toddlers can dress themselves. If she wet her shirt, just ask her to bring a clean shirt and dress herself. Ask her to put her dirty shirt in the laundry basket. When you are going out, the child can go get her jacket and hat and put her shoes on by herself. You just need to tell her directions and help her to do it by herself.
If your child has art materials like drawing and gluing, let the child know where the paper is so she doesn’t need to ask parents to get more paper.
4. Follow the child’s routine
The child needs consistency of schedule and routines for the child to understand what is expected of her. (Schedule of mealtimes, naps, activity, and sleep) This can assist her orderly sense. It is beneficial that parents read to your child every night before bed.
5. Let your child prepare her snack
Yes, your child will make a mess. But everybody loves this activity. If you feed your child apples, bananas, avocados or mandarin oranges, just prepare a set of food materials (a tray, chopping board, butter knife, apron, tongs, small dishes, etc.) Let the child peel the food and slice it. Once she slices it, use the tongs to move the food to the dish)
If she spills, encourage her to wipe it up by herself. If an adult cleans it for her, she doesn’t care when she spills or drops her food. The child needs to be aware that there is cause and effect. If she spills, she needs to wipe it. The child experiences the logical consequence of order. The awareness of herself and her environment is the purpose of accomplishing a task.
For children to develop confidence in their own abilities, they have to be helped to care for themselves independently just as soon as they are able. Try not to look at efficiency or speed, the focus is on process and on the repetition and practice that are required to work toward perfection in all processes.