When toddlers and young preschoolers start in Montessori, parents are often amazed at the sudden spurt in independence and skill their children display.
If your child is starting in a preschool program, and you want to witness this incredible development in your own child, it helps if you are able to prepare your home environment in ways that support your child’s new skills and desire to be independent.
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Provide simple storage spots for belongings right inside the front door. A small rug to place shoes or a basket to put them into and some hooks to hang jackets are a great start. This can help your child get out of the house and back in more independently, and maybe prevent some meltdowns! A little stool to sit on helps, as well.
2. Make your kitchen accessible to your child. Find a low shelf or drawer to store cups, place mats, and utensils within your child’s reach. Buy glass cups and inexpensive ceramic plates (IKEA is great!) that you don’t mind getting broken. Invite your child to set his own place at the table. A bigger step stool, or a learning tower can be a great help to little people who want to join you in the fun cooking activities at counter height. And, of course, when it comes time to sit down and eat, encourage your child to feed himself: Even young toddlers can eat finger-foods on their own, and start using a spoon; this is what they do in their Montessori classrooms, too.
5. Facilitate getting dressed independently. Low open shelves, low racks, a mirror and a bench with brush or comb can enable even 2- or 3-year-olds to begin to dress independently, especially if you pre-select an outfit the night before, or lay out two simple choices for a younger child.
6. Consider a floor or other low bed. Some Montessori parents never have cots; instead, they baby-proof an entire room and let even infants sleep on a floor bed. While this may not work for every parent, a low bed or a twin mattress on the floor can be a great step up after a cot, instead of a toddler bed.
7. Make books accessible and create cozy reading areas. The more that books are all over your house, the easier it is for your child to grab a book instead of asking for your iPhone or the TV when you are not available to play.
To see growth in your child’s independence, it’s not necessary to reorganise your entire house (who has the time and energy for that?!). Just pick one or two ideas and make little changes over time. You might think your child is too young to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities for independence—but once she starts school, you might be surprised and thrilled at how quickly it happens!