Saturday, November 29, 2008

How do you do it? Montessori style.

When we lived in Logan, we enrolled Roscoe in a little Montessori preschool. On his first day, the teacher showed us around the room. Montessori schools focus on children learning through self-directed doing, so there are no desks, but lots of cubbies with blocks and paints and such.

The teacher assigned another little three-year-old to show Roscoe how to manage the snack cupboard. The boy showed Roscoe how he could serve himself his snack at whatever time he chose, how to get a tray, put his name card on it, and take his snacks to the table. Then how to put it all away when he was through. The whole snack area was cleverly organized to make this possible. I was stunned that children could be taught to handle things so independently. And the teacher didn't even teach him how to do it--another child did!

So here's another piece of the how-do-you-do-it puzzle: Use your parenting energy and creativity to create systems that encourage your children to do their own work and learning. Laundry cubbies, easy-to-open cereal containers, morning routine charts, child-level hooks, reflective listening.

Again, it's not about foisting the work onto the child so the mom can eat bon-bons. It changes the parent into a facilitator and guide, which is not less work but different work. It gives children their own responsibility, which is empowering and fulfilling for them. It helps them expand their abilities and then utilize those abilities more fully.


  1. I really like this, thanks for sharing. Maybe when you get back you can fill me in on little ways you have made this successful in your home. I think Taylor is ready for a few more systems like this.

  2. Excellent point. I guess I'm good about that in some ways. But I am always surprised by how independant your children are. I guess I could start with breakfast and laundry - those are both entirely Mom-responsiblities at the moment.