Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fostering Independence in Preschoolers

One of the important tenets of the Montessori method is preparing the environment. To prepare the environment means simply to make things accessible to young children, thereby fostering independence in them. From child-sized furniture to low shelving and step stools around the home, there are so many ways to foster independence in your little one. In our home, we have implemented only a fraction of what can be done.

Here are some examples of what we have done:
I attached magnetic chip clips to our dishwasher and they either clip their bibs on them or hang them over the handle of the clip after meals. They are also responsible for getting their bibs before mealtime. (Yes, I know they are a little old for bibs, but by golly, these kids are messy eaters and I want to keep their clothes nice for as long as possible!).
I store their clean utensils (forks, spoons, napkins and cups) in this utensil caddy within their reach. Before meals they must get the necessary utensils and bring them to their seat. Following a meal, they are responsible for returning the dirty dishes to the sink and throwing away any trash.

Here we have low-hanging hooks attached to the side of our kitchen island. Hanging on the first hook is their broom and dustpan, which they can use whenever they make a mess on the floor and need to clean it up. Next to that, I hang their paint smocks, which they are responsible for retrieving whenever we are planning to do an art project that might be messy.
In addition to these, we have the step stool in the bathrooms for brushing teeth and climbing up to the toilet/washing hands, and a shoe basket in the entry way for putting away their shoes. I have three more hooks (found at the Dollar Spot at Target a while back) which I plan to hang near the stairs for their coats to hang on. Right now they are draping their coats on the bottom step, which is pretty unsightly.

How do you foster indepence in your children??


Momma Snail said...

We have a small pitcher that is filled with water and sits on the counter with their cups. They can get themselves water whenever they need it. I like your post topic and I should do the same because there is a lot that we do. I never really think about these things because they have become such a part of our lives.

Anonymous said...

So far mine feeds the cats, put his clothes in the hamper, helps load the washer and dryer, and must try to do things himself before receiving assistance. I am interested in figuring out more so that he can be a very capable person.

Lea said...

We have non-breakable plates, cups and bowls in a lower cabinet. They can get their own dishes and they can also put them away when they are clean. They are responsible for clearing their place at the counter and/or table. Their shoes/sandals and coats/jackets are at their level so they can help themselves and pick up after themselves with those.

I really like your broom/dustpan idea. I will be getting one of those asap:). Thanks!

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