The title of this article is a pretty famous quote used in the Montessori world. It says it all.
Independence is not about making the child go faster than he can or because we think it’s easier, it’s about the child.
Many people going through their child’s meltdowns and tantrums do not hear in the cry of the child the famous: “Help me do by myself!”
I am not saying it’s easy and we will not avoid meltdowns and tantrums altogether, they are part of the child’s development and discovery of his place in the world. However, we can have a prepared environment that helps the child feeling he has power over this world she belongs to.
My first advice for any caregiver and myself (I repeat it in my head often) is to TAKE the TIME for the child to be, discover, observe, smell, taste… experience what is around – without the adults nagging, running and pressing them to finish what they are doing. Easier said than done for sure, but it deserves some thought and it is also a matter of respect for the child.
And remember, do not intervene to “help” unless it is being asked by the child (for toddlers or babies it might just be a cry or a complaint) or for a matter of safety, the child needs to struggle to learn, it’s part of his learning path to independence.
Around the house, we have some activities to enhance the child’s independence, here are the ones we have around for our toddlers right now:
- washing hands station
- Wiping a table after snack and lunch (they take turn as it is very popular)
- bringing plate to the table – setting up the table for lunch or snack
- brushing their hair – and they love looking at themselves in the mirror
- child-size wardrobe/cubbies/hooks – to allow the child to choose his clothes in the morning This means, you choose a couple of outfits that are weather appropriate and from these, the child can choose which one she wants. Or it can simply being able to take their coat, hats from a hook in the entrance.
- Learning tower – to observe or help in the kitchen
- and any other activities where the child is helping you or doing by herself, she is learning.
A lot of these activities are what we call Practical Life activities. Since our toddlers are growing up fast, we offer Practical Life work on our shelves as well, such as:
- open and close boxes
- open and close bags
- nuts and bolts
- locks and keys
- dressing frame – right now we are working on velcro
Our toddlers can put on their hats on their own and are also working on taking off and putting on shoes and there is definitely a lot of independence in everyday tasks like this one.
Observation and Patience are key for the adult but this is worth it, the child is being herself and building herself by becoming independent.
Tell me what you do for helping your child being independent ?