Thursday, March 10, 2016

How We Choose Practical Life Activities for Our Young Toddler

As with most things parenting, the world wide web is also a trove of Montessori Practical Life ideas from all over the whole wide world. For the most part, they're all inspiring--good examples of what even young children are capable of doing; but sometimes they can also be confusing--what Practical Life activities do I really introduce to my young toddler?

A ready answer, a Montessori mantra, is "follow the child". What is she ready for and interested in.

With this in mind, I set-up little Practical Life trays--simpler, but still much like the ones you'd see on the shelves of my previous classrooms and on boards in Pinterest. Examples: 1) Hand transfer (2 bowls and some beans which she would have had to transfer from one bowl to another and back again); 2) Spooning (2 bowls, small spoon, some beans/kernels which she would have had to spoon from one bowl to another and back again); etc. I'm going to stop giving examples here because--

They weren't very successful. Even while my daughter can transfer by hand and with a spoon, little trays with materials such as these didn't get worked on much. Why? One, because children her age are more for explorations (more on this, maybe, another day). And two, I realized that before poring over pins and posts for Practical Life ideas, I should be looking at something else first:

Our life.

Our lifestyle.

Young children look at what we do and want to do those themselves. This is how they naturally work (so/how they acquire our language and culture). My little trays, no matter how cute, sat unnoticed on the shelf because my daughter doesn't see me do those things myself.


So I looked at what we actually do everyday and turned as much as I can into useful and practical Practical Life. Here I remember a recent video that just played on my feed (I have a point, promise) where a girl makes machines to do things for her like pour cereals and milk in a bowl. It was supposed to be funny (the machines just weren't doing what they're actually supposed to), but it stuck somehow because the girl said she wanted to make some parts of her life automated. With now-19-month-old Cara, our efforts involve, to support her work of increasing independence, making more aspects of her everyday life autonomous.

Which aspects?

What work does your child see you do at home? What household chores do you do yourself? What's your routine with your child/ren? Looking into these can give us good ideas for Practical Life activities. Observe your day, go. Leave this post if you must.

But if you want to see examples of what we do in our home, here are some (the ones with * have links to videos of Cara doing the work--watch, they're fun :-)):


Food Prep and Meals

Pouring water into a drinking glass*

Drinking from a glass*

Squeezing citrus to make juice

Setting the table before meals and tidying it up after

Preparing a snack of cereals* (much more efficient and endearing than the cereals-and-milk-pouring-machine from that video I mentioned)

Peeling an egg and making an egg sandwich

Picking moringa / malunggay leaves to use for meals

Peeling an orange*

Washing fruits and vegetables

Our then 14-month-old washing string beans we picked from the neighbor's vegetable patch


Care for Self

Washing the hands

Putting on and taking off shoes

Putting clothes in the hamper

Choosing what to wear (clothes, shoes, hair tie/clips, even citronella patches)

Scrubbing the body with a washcloth during bath

Brushing the teeth

Combing the hair

Putting on lotion

A part of her Montessori-inspired bathroom


Care for the Environment

Cleaning the shelf*

Cleaning materials and other furniture

Packing materials away

Arranging flowers to decorate the house*

Wiping spills

Mopping the floor*

Washing the gate, walls, and windows

Giving the pet some water*

Watering the plants

How do we know we chose the right Practical Life activities--like this, her first time to use a hose to water plants?
We get smiles like that.


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1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad to stumbled in your blog.'. Glad to see another mom teaching montessorri principles.

    ReplyDelete