Montessori inspiration is all over Instagram right now. It’s more than just a fashion statement though – adopting Montessori ideas in your own home are really beneficial for all concerned!
Whilst attending a Montessori pre-school would set you back a fair bit in terms of cost, there’s no reason at all why you can’t borrow some of the practical life elements to use in your own home. Read on for some of our favourites.
Adopting practical life activities are great for two reasons:
- They make your child more independent, which frees up your time;
- Independence leads to confidence. Children love that feeling of doing things all by themselves.
All of these activities are suitable for toddlers and pre-school aged children. I’d recommend starting around the age of 2.5 to 3. Use your best judgement of YOUR child and their capabilities.
Here are some suggestions and activity ideas for each zone of the house.
In order to make practical life a possibility for toddlers and pre-schoolers, they need to be able to reach the main workstation. We have IKEA FÖRSIKTIG stools in several zones of the house. They are easy enough for the children to move independently and can be stowed away easily too.
Ideas to try:
- peeling and slicing a hard boiled egg;
- washing plates/ loading the dishwasher;
- making a sandwich;
- helping to prepare dinner – e.g. making pizza or kneading bread dough;
- making juice;
- washing and peeling fruit and vegetables.
- Strengthens the muscles in the hands and develops fine motor skills;
- Helps children understand teamwork and collaboration in order to get a job done quicker.
Depending on the space you have in your home, child-sized chairs and tables can really help children gain independence. There’s a big gap between a high chair (which can feel ‘babyish’ to toddlers) and the adult-sized dining room furniture.
We we use the IKEA LÄTT chairs and table, which is just big enough for two.
Ideas to try:
- show children how to lay the table correctly;
- allow them to arrange flowers for the dining table;
- clear plates away.
- teamwork and collaboration;
- promotes social skills;
- real-life numeracy: counting the knives, forks and spoons needed.
Lower clothes racks so that your children can reach them easily – this means that your child doesn’t have to rely on your assistance to get items down which should speed up the process of getting ready in the mornings!
We also added a DRÖMMARE mirror from IKEA. It’s made from acrylic plastic, so you don’t need to worry about breakages or cracks.
Worried about inappropriate outfits?
This is definitely a learning process, however to start you could:
- remove and store items that are out of season;
- provide a choice of two outfits.
- fine motor skills: buttons and zips take a lot of getting used to!;
- cognitive skills: remembering which order clothes to be put on;
- gross motor skills: balancing to put trousers on;
- understanding of appropriateness of clothes according to the season and occasion.
Teach good hygiene young, and it’s much more likely to become an ingrained habit. But here’s the thing, your child can’t exactly adopt good habits independently if they can’t even reach the sink.
Whilst many traditional Montessorians would suggest a low basin for hand washing, it isn’t always possible and a stool can work just as well.
- adding a low mirror so your child can see what they are doing. Ours is a IKEA perspex mirror, placed so the children can see when washing their face and teeth.
- keeping a washcloth and comb in a little basket for accessibility.
- making hand-washing fun – check out our sister site, Teach Investigate Play, for a fun mermaid soap DIY to encourage handwashing.
All of these activities are brilliant for building independence, but you can make them even more beneficial by narrating the activities. For example, when making a sandwich, talk through the process and the key words used. ‘First we butter the bread’ (butter the bread together), then we add the filling and so on. This is also known as procedural language and is super helpful when teaching children to follow instructions.