Toddler Independence

Independence at Home
Your Montessori children show incredible independence in our classroom. They all put on their own coats, take their food plates to the table, throw away their waste in the proper receptacles, and put their plates in the “dirty dish basket.” They wash their hands, water the plants, fold towels, roll rugs, and choose their own work. When they sit to do a work, they need almost no assistance at all. They remain focused and curious, and when done they put their work away where they know it goes. If this amazes you and you want to make your home a place to encourage this type of independence, here are a few tips:

  • Put out a small number of activities in your child’s play area or bedroom (6 – 20). Keep all the rest of the toys and things in bins in the closet or garage. Plan to rotate them in later.
  • Place each activity on a tray or in a basket that the child can clearly see into. Make sure all pieces are included so your child can complete/succeed at the activity.
  • Display the activities with space in between on simple, clean shelves. Bolt shelves to the wall for safety, if necessary. If your child tries to climb on the shelves, say “Shelves are not for climbing. You can climb on these pillows” and put a low pile of pillows or cushions nearby.
  • Keep the same items on the shelf for 3-4 days or even a few weeks depending on their interest, before rotating new items. It’s okay if your child may seem to get bored–boredom promotes creativity. If allowed to explore, your child will probably return to the activities over and over. With each use, your child will develop concentration and confidence through mastery of the activities.
  • Encourage your child to put each activity away before choosing another (if he or she refuses, gently hold the new desired activity in your hands and calmly say, “I’ll hold this for you while you put that one away.” Don’t forget to smile.
  • Put out 10 – 15 books in your child’s room. Allow him or her to peruse the books independently sometimes, and read one together other times. Change these out as you rotate the shelf activities. Model care for the books. If a page rips, have your child help you got get the tape to fix it. Talk about how special books are and encourage your child to treat them with respect.
  • If you have more than one child, roll up some blankets or towels that you have at home in a basket on the floor where your children can access them (near the shelves). Cut the blankets down to about 2′ x 3′. Ask your children to take their activities to these individual work spaces. This is just like what we do at school and you will see a peace about them when your children know that they have their own space in which to work. Encourage them to walk around one another’s towel/blanket out of respect. Model this.
  • Doing this may take some planning, but it will promote an orderly, calm feeling in your home. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions.