Montessori: Practical Life

Since making the decision to home school my children, currently ages one and three, I have been researching various methods of home schooling.  Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you some of the benefits I’ve seen in each of those methods.  If you are considering home schooling, this may help you decide where to start.  If you are already home schooling, this may provide you with some ideas to enhance what’s working well for you or re-work something that’s been a struggle.  To see all posts in this series, please click the tag “home schooling methods.”

If you have never read anything by Dr. Maria Montessori, now’s the time to start.  The extremely popular Montessori method of education is based on her many years of studying child psychology and learning.  Many schools use a Montessori approach, particularly preschools, but her ideas resonate with homeschoolers as well.

A Montessori education emphasizes practical life skills that build a child’s independence, both physically and intellectually.  Montessori urged parents and teachers to “never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed,” a line that has become my personal mantra as my three-year-old tackles more and more steps of his daily routine on his own.

In addition to fostering independence, teaching a child practical skills allows him to contribute productively to the life of the household.  From a very young age, children can clean up after themselves, use a small broom, perform simple cooking tasks, match socks from the laundry basket, and so on.  This gives children a helpful and necessary role to perform, one that grows with them into their teenage years.  Even our one-year-old helps out around the house — it is his responsibility to turn the lights off when we leave a room.  It may sound like a game, but it’s a big help to mama when her hands are full, and he gets very disappointed when he doesn’t get to do it.

What practical skills are your little ones working on?  How are they building their independence while helping the whole house to run more smoothly?

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