The Montessori method of learning places considerable emphasis on helping children to develop independence through learning practical life skills.
The sheer quantity of information available online can be daunting at first but it’s important not to dismiss it as “alternative” education.
Even if your child goes to the local school, your job as a parent is teach them the practical life stuff they just won’t get in the run-of-the-mill school system. Luckily there are many wonderful Montessori activities you can get them involved with at home that will complement their “school” education and arm them with cast-iron, practical everyday life skills they’ll need as adults.
Young children have a natural interest in learning what to do. They’ll pattern their actions by mimicking yours. Throughout everyday life, whether you’re putting your clothes in the wash basket, shopping, cleaning, choosing healthy eating options, behaving at the dinner table, being honest and polite to each other or using various tools for everyday activities, your children are naturally fascinated and learning by watching you.
We’ve put together 10 ideas on basic Montessori approaches we think are the tops for helping you make sure your kids are equipped with the life skills they’re going to need as independent adults.
- Follow Your Child Whatever Their Age – Montessori advocates observing your child to determine what their needs and interests are. When it comes to learning life skills, observing what interests them will guide you towards what to teach them. They are more likely to learn happily and with ease because the subject matter interests them, e.g. your 7 year old daughter wants to arrange to play with a friend from school – take the opportunity to teach her about telephone etiquette, how to make a call, how to answer the telephone, etc.
- Allow Your Child The Freedom to Explore Both Inside and Outside – Provided they are safe, use independence and self-directed techniques to enable them to teach life skills to themselves through their own experiences.
- Give Your Child As Many Hands-On Learning Experiences as Possible – Nothing beats hands-on experience. Show your child how to do something, then have the patience to allow them to do it themselves and self-correct themselves until they get it. If they get frustrated, draw the activity to a close for the day and then reintroduce it another day starting with showing them again and then stepping back to let them do it alone.
- Get Tools For the Job That Are The Right Size For Your Child – There are now child size tools for so many things whether it’s cooking, gardening, carpentry, sewing… Keep these special tools accessible for them to be able to use to create their own life skill learning experiences.
- Don’t Interrupt – Where possible, let your child work at their own pace and in their own cycle to develop their ability to concentrate. If you continue to interrupt with suggestions, corrections, other activities, etc., their concentration skills won’t have such a good opportunity to develop.
- Put Rewards, Punishments and Tests to One Side – If you let your child follow their instincts and their own work cycle, they’ll naturally develop a sense of satisfaction for what they achieve when it’s well-done and develop their own intrinsic motivation.
- Get Organised – Keep your child’s environment as organised as possible. It will help them to develop an orderly mind and encourage them to direct their own learning.
- Use the Tell ‘Em, Show ‘Em, Let ‘Em Do It Approach – Your child won’t automatically know how to put the rubbish out, answer the telephone or behave properly in any given situation. You need to walk the talk at every opportunity and demonstrate things to them first.
- Walk the Talk – Be their role model as they’ll mimic you constantly.
- Make Use of their Own Intrinsic Motivation – By teaching them the things that interest them and letting them choose their own activities within a controlled play set up, you’ll be tapping into their own intrinsic motivation – the most powerful motivator to learning and enjoying learning available to any teacher.
By following the above 10 ideas, you child will quickly develop many positive life skills without considerable effort on your part, life skills and values such as self-discipline, a love of learning, organisational skills…