Home and school may seem like two separate and distinct spheres, but to a child they’re the entire world. If a child’s school life does not align with their family life in certain ways, a confusing dissonance could develop. They may have trouble understanding their place, what’s expected of them, and how they ought to conduct themselves. So it’s important that there is harmony between these two primary spheres of a child’s life.
The blog series, Bringing Montessori Home, is our way of sharing actionable advice on how parents can practice Montessori principles at home and make the Montessori approach a part of everyday family life. We will share tips and tricks for Montessori-style parenting and tackle subjects like communicating with your kids, including them in everyday household tasks, and how to make your home an accessible, inclusive place where your child can cultivate a healthy sense of confidence, independence, and self-sufficiency.
In many ways, September marks the beginning of a new year for families. Holidays are over and back to school means lots of new things– a new grade, new teacher, and new after school activities. The novelty of this time of year makes it a great opportunity to develop new habits and set new routines. So we decided to begin this series of blog features with an article on how to include your kids in household routines in age-appropriate ways.
These tips and tricks are not reserved only for parents of children in Montessori programs. Whether you have had your children in Montessori schools for years or you’re just becoming interested in what the Montessori approach to educating children is all about, we think you’ll find value in what you’ll read here.
Parents who choose to send their children to Montessori programs tend to have a particular perspective about children and childhood that informs their approach to parenting. They tend to embrace a core Montessori belief: that just because a child is small, it doesn’t mean that they’re not capable of participating in the adult world, in taking part in practical life skills or household tasks, and they look for opportunities to make children feel involved in all aspects of family life in age-appropriate ways.
A Montessori Approach to Household Tasks
It may seem like a punishment to make a young child help with household chores and responsibilities, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the Montessori classroom, children and teachers are a community where everyone works together to keep the environment clean and organized.
That means that when there is a mess to be cleaned up, or a shelf to be organized, everyone is expected to contribute to keeping the space clean and tidy, as well as cleaning up after themselves. Children learn to sweep, dust and maintain an overall sense of organization. They also learn to pour water, cut vegetables, use tongs, peel an egg, and so much more.
These are simple but essential life skills that can easily be brought home, so we would encourage any parent to get their own kids involved in household tasks. Bringing these simple rules into your home will help your child experience consistency, and learn responsibility, and best of all, make a more equal distribution of labor in your home.
Household Tasks For Every Age
It goes without saying that a two-year-old won’t be able to do the same things that a twelve-year-old can do to participate in taking care of themselves and the world around them. So involving children in household tasks is all about finding age-appropriate ways to give them that sense of accomplishment without posing too much of a developmental challenge. Here are a few examples of age-appropriate household tasks you can try at home with young children.
Toddlers (18 months to 2.5 years)
- Putting soiled clothes in the hamper, retrieving clothing from drawers (provided they are child accessible), choosing between two clothing options
- Retrieving toys and putting them away when play is through, choosing bedtime stories, organizing their play space, tucking in chairs
- Helping parents with tasks around the house (especially in their own bedroom), carrying objects from one place to another, tidying up with child-sized tools
- Brushing their teeth (with assistance), washing their hands, bathing themselves with help, brushing their hair with help, drying themselves off after bath time
- Drinking from cups, retrieving their own snacks (provided they are easily accessible), serving their own food, clearing their own plates, cleaning up messes and spills with help when needed
Pre-Primary Children (2 to 3 years)
- Making the bed with help, sorting laundry, matching socks, packing and carrying their own backpacks, making their beds, putting clothes away in drawers, selecting what they want to wear, dressing with help
- Washing their faces, brushing their teeth, combing their hair, washing with soap, conducting their own toilet routines with help
- Setting the table, clearing dishes, washing dishes with help, cleaning windows, sweeping, dusting, putting groceries away, helping in the kitchen using real utensils under supervision, making snacks, pouring drinks, eating with utensils
Primary Children (3 to 6 years)
- Sorting, folding, and putting away their own laundry, making the bed, cleaning their room, getting dressed without help, packing their own bags, tying their own shoes, putting on their own coats and outerwear
- Taking care of pets with help, vacuuming, wiping down tables and washing floors, sorting and taking out the garbage with help, helping parents with bringing groceries in from the car, watering plants, using the washer and dryer with help
- Making their own snacks, peeling vegetables and fruit, cooking under supervision and with help, assisting parents with measuring ingredients, sifting, sorting, etc., helping parents pack their lunch, making a grocery list
In Montessori, a child’s place is any place. The whole world is a classroom and our job as adults is to help steward children along as they navigate their own particular path of learning and growth. Taking ownership over care for one’s self and one’s environment are practical life skills that we all need in life, and learning them at a young age is key to fostering self-reliance and confidence for years to come.
We hope that this blog post helps you find fun, new ways of practicing Montessori principles at home with your own children.
If there are any household tasks that you would recommend we would love to hear them. Please share this article on your favorite social network using the buttons below and tell us what you think!