20 +Montessori-style ideas to try with your toddlers & pre-schoolers

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Sian Thomas

I'm a trained teacher and mama to three awesome children. We are a family of expats, travelling the world every couple of years for new adventures. Right now, we live in Vienna, Austria. I'm passionate about helping mums worldwide navigate the early years of parenthood.

Montessori-style ideas helps children become more independent

I work with mums to help them embrace and enjoy the early years. I absolutely LOVE what I do – let me help you too.

This week I’m talking about Montessori-style ideas you can adopt in your own home, without having to follow along with the whole philosophy.

At home, we absolutely love the more ‘practical life’ elements of Montessori and I think you might appreciate these too.

Adopting practical life activities are great for two reasons:

  1. They make your child more independent, which frees up your time;
  2. Independence leads to confidence. Children love that feeling of doing things all by themselves.

Age Recommendations:

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.

Montessori-style ideas help children become more independent

Here are some suggestions and activity ideas for each zone of the house.

Kitchen

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.

 

Educational Benefits:

  • 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.

 

children love helping out in the kitchen. Try teaching them how to make juice, peel a hard boiled egg or even prepare dinner

Dining Room

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.

 

Educational Benefits:

  • teamwork and collaboration;
  • promotes social skills;
  • real-life numeracy: counting the knives, forks and spoons needed.

 

let children help prepare for mealtimes by teaching them how to lay the table

Bedroom

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.

 

Educational Benefits:

  • 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.

 

lower clothes racks so children can become more independent when getting dressed

Bathroom

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.

Try:

  • 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.

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