Toddler classrooms are often the first environments children experience from home to school. Our environments are prepared to give the child the opportunity to discover him or herself, through independent activities that focus on each child’s particular stage of development. Children are given the ability to choose the lessons that interest them most. This enables them to practice making independent choices, to develop autonomy, and cultivate a sense of pride from the achievement of successfully mastering each lesson.
Fostering Independence in Toddlers the Montessori Way:
“Never help a child with a task at which they feel they can succeed.” ~Maria Montessori. One of the key principles in the Montessori approach to learning is developing the child’s sense of independence. Montessori’s teaching method is based on a deep respect for the child as an individual and nurtures their developing independence using key values.
Montessori education teaches children independence through practical life activities. Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that children have an innate interest in “real-life” activities and it is important to understand that children are not only interested in, but also quite capable of performing many common daily tasks. Some of the practical life activities we teach the toddlers at Montessori school are; After eating, they may help clear the table and clean the dishes, children also help keep the classroom clean, sweeping floors with child-sized brooms or hanging up coats on hooks built within reach. Children also learn how to manipulate objects in small hands, reach shelves, sinks, or tabletops, and lift/move smaller, lighter-weight items such as chairs or step stools. They must also be kept safe, nothing too sharp, hot, or high for them to reach. Children are allowed to safely and successfully use wooden hammers and other tools, pitchers and cups, brushes, combs and toothbrushes, drying racks, wooden knives and cutting boards, to name a few, just as long as they are sized to fit into the hands and reach of the child.
Before the child attempts these practical life activities, they are given a detailed lesson. The child watches the teacher demonstrate the proper and safe technique. After which the child is invited to try what they have just seen. The teacher will then respectfully observe, offering assistance only when truly necessary. Allowing the child to take as long as they need, to make mistakes, and even struggle a bit. Only helping if the child becomes frustrated, asks for assistance, or there is any kind of potential danger.
Another important aspect of the Montessori classroom that develops the child’s independence is the interaction with different aged children. Classes are comprised of children in a three-year age range to encourage cooperative social interaction to build social skills, friendships, and self-confidence. The children learn to respect others and themselves. Through interacting with other children and adults in the classroom, and exploring the activities in their environment, they quickly learn about getting along with others and how things work within the classroom.
The Montessori way of learning is not just for time spent in school. Through Maria Montessori’s wisdom and by using these methods, parents can teach their children the vital lessons of independence, resourcefulness and self-reliance.
Our staff at AMIS are always ready to give parents ideas on ways to promote independence at home as well. Contact us today to find out how our program can enhance your child’s development.
Children’s natural developmental stages are addressed through the following activities: