Our homes are awash with toys for children which replicate the activities of daily life.
What the child really desires is the real activity.
Pretend play will satisfy the child to some extent but never to the level they really desire.
The Montessori approach aims to create the possibility for the child to participate wherever possible in the world around them. So instead of a wooden 'sink' where the child pretends to wash dishes how can you enable your little one what they really want to do, which is to wash real dishes, which need washing.
Involving your child in kitchen-based work is relatively easy if a suitable piece of furniture such as a learning tower is made or purchased.
Washing the dishes is a great example of a simple everyday activity which provides within that one task so much the young child both wants and needs.
In addition to the satisfaction of mastering the task washing the dishes is an activity which provides a mechanism for:
- refining of motor skills
- hand-eye co-ordination
- understanding of cause and effect (e.g. you need to place the dish in the water and rub it with a brush to clean it)
- understanding consequences (if you don't hold the dish tightly it may fall from your grasp and may even break)
Perhaps most importantly your child will experience a sense of satisfaction as they meet their inner drive to participate in real 'work' and are involved in contributing to the family well-being.
Here are just a few examples of other easily available daily household activities loved by small children:
- Cutting (easy examples to start)
- Spooning (the amount required for a family meal into a pot or bowl)
Children understand that the tasks they see everyday are vital to the well being of the family and allowing your small child to participate in as many of those real tasks as possible will, along with the development of the skills discussed above, provide the child with a strong positive message about their capabilities and their importance within the family unit.