Lockdown Day 73 – Independence
With five more Sundays before our youngest children can potentially return to school, we are going to dedicate our Sunday posts to some Montessori philosophy in the hopes that the efforts of the lockdown tips and the way in which we have structured the activities can be brought together. Our hope is that as your children return to school, the environments your children go in to, the teachers they interact with, and activities they engage with, will make more sense.
Your role as parents is pivotal in your children’s development, so we hope to speak to you in the next few weeks and bring Montessori’s ideas, hopes and aspirations for all children to you.
* INDEPENDENCE *
Montessori spoke about the ‘work’ of the child being the construction of the wo/man to be. Character development during this stage of the child’s life, her/his exposure to social interactions, her/his responses to emotional events all contribute to the wo/man s/he will be one day. The development of independence is the child’s quest to be that wo/man and be able to help her/himself in the world.
The motto of the 3-6 year old is ‘help me to do it myself’.
We all want our children to be independent, to grow into fully functioning adults with strong bodies and healthy minds, with compassion for her/his fellow humans. Our work as parents in making this happen rests not only on a healthy diet and plenty of physical exercise but also attending to this vital quest within the child to be independent.
Montessori classrooms are set up to allow the child to do for her/himself what s/he can. This should ideally be mirrored at home.
– Before school, (preferably the night before), let your child choose her/his clothes and lay them out ready to put on the next morning. You may well need to guide the child in the planning that is needed for this. For example, consult the weather app for the next day’s weather. This will allow to start making informed, critically thought through decisions.
– Let the child be involved in preparing her/his lunchbox for the next day. This again is an opportunity for the development of planning skills, and also to consider whether the food that is being prepared has a good balance of colour and nutritional value.
– When you drop your child off in the morning, encourage the child to carry her/his own bag. Leave the child at the gate to enter her/his environment alone. Of course, there are circumstances like prolonged absences form school, new schools etc. that require the parent to be more present, but ideally, this is what we are moving towards. This level of independence allows he child to learn to get her/himself organised for the day ahead. S/he may be required to remove her/his lunchbox and water bottle from the bag and place them on the snack table.S/he will then be required to zip up her/his bag and hang it on the hook. A notebook may need to be placed into the book box. Shoes may need to be changed. These are all valuable life skills that the independent child will take forward into the school day and later every day living.
– At school, the children are invited to partake in many activities that they will work with on their own once they have been shown how to do it. A child may (for example) choose to scrub a table. S/he will collect and lay out the materials used in the activity, fetch the water, scrub the table, discard the dirty water, throw dirty and wet cloths into the washing basket, put clean cloths onto the activity tray and replace it on the shelf ready for the next person to use. Look at all of the ‘independences’ the child has accomplished here!
– During the school day the children are further encouraged to fold and pack their jerseys away when it gets warmer in the day. They manage to find, open and close their own snack box during tea-time. Bathroom routines are monitored (probably more stringently during post-lockdown), but the children’s growing independence develops in the stable, everyday routines of flushing and hand-washing.
– At home time, the children collect their bags and walk independently to the gate.
Our motto as teachers comes from Montessori herself: “Never help a child at a task at which s/he feels s/he may succeed.”
Think about this the next time you want to do something for your child… Instead of doing it for the child, and in so doing depriving the child of these valuable life skills, rather help her/him to help her/himself.
Find all of our lockdown tips here – https://www.montessorisa.co.za/blog/