The Toddler Community (12 months to 3 years of age)
Putting on her own shoe, setting his place at the table! These everyday activities are what independence looks like for a toddler. In order to aid your child’s independence, cultivate your own patience. Slow down and offer your child time and space to practice.
I Can Do It! In the above pictures, the children are exploring the Dressing Frames. Each frame gives the child the opportunity to practice opening and closing each fastening for as long and as often as desired.
The Primary (3 to 6 years of age)
The primary environment fosters the child’s independence and assists the child in making independent choice through the order, stability and consistency that it provides. The materials call for precise movement; it is through this precise movement that the child masters presentations. We give the child the opportunity to carry out exercises with the materials independently.
Materials requiring several complex skills are made simpler. We isolate a particular difficulty then practice that step beforehand in a preliminary exercise. The adult must slow down and give the child more time to do for herself. Allow time for the child to make and correct mistakes. Dr. Maria Montessori said, “Every unnecessary help is an obstacle to development.”
What are some ways you can foster independence at home?
Allow your child to dress himself, assist with food or lunch preparation, fold and put away clothes, set and clean the table. Your child can put groceries away, carry ones own lunch box to school, care for a pet, sort and separate clothing for washing, learn to tie shoes, cut and arrange flowers. The adult can lead the child to find many ways in which he/she can help themselves and contribute to the home and family.
The Elementary (6 to 12 years of age)
These children are growing individuals with new passions and interests. Natural explorers, they are embarking on a new stage of development. They are seekers of information, highly inquisitive, and often focused upon trying to understand how things work, in doing things for themselves, and with their peers. There exists within them a keen sense of justice and compassion, and a great love for learning.
What are some ways in which children develop independence in the classroom?
A special material unique to the Montessori Elementary classroom is “Going Out”. Planned by a small group of students, Going out connects their growing interest or study within the classroom to an expert in the field, or to a learning venue in the community at large. Planning for a Going Out – transportation, chaperones, expenses, directions, prepared questions for interviews, as well as the writing of thank you notes, is the work of the the Elementary student.
Food Preparation/Cooking and Baking
They have been preparing food, cooking and baking from a very young age. Now more skilled and responsible, there is limited need for supervision. The steps to a recipe must be read and followed, ingredients precisely measured, and a watchful eye focused on their final product.
Contributing to the Community
The students are in charge of their classroom. Daily and weekly chores keep the indoor and outdoor prepared environment orderly and tidy. This supports their ownership of the classroom.
Three learning experiences- Going Out, Food Preparation, and Contributing to the Community- can be easily integrated into the home and daily life of your child.
The adult can help foster their child’s journey toward independence. How? By providing three gifts – time, space and freedom. Why? So that significant discoveries and connections can be made in the world around them. While seeking these connections and making sense of their world, the child journeys ever closer to independence.