When my twins were little, I was introduced to the Montessori method of teaching through their little preschool held at the vocational high school near us. I liked the concept so much I ended up teaching several years of preschool at a Montessori school. Montessori allows students to be more independent in their learning and lets their curiosity guide them in their learning. It helps foster a love of learning. However, if you want your toddler to be more independent at home, you don’t necessarily have to enroll your children in a Montessori school (although I would totally support that plan!). Here’s a few ideas on how to foster independence in our little ones.
Practice YOUR patience
I get it. Many times in life, it’s just easier to do it yourself. Give your children the TIME to figure it out on their own. If you know you will be leaving the house in ten minutes, hand your child their shoes or coat and have them practice trying to put them on by themselves before you swoop in and do it for them. The time you invest now will pay off quickly.
Use picture charts
To this day, I still use a chart/list for my youngest who is now 10. It helps him get ready in the morning without me harping on him about what he forgot to do. Before my kids could read, I gave them the same lists but in picture form. If they are responsible with a dry erase marker, they can use it to cross out what they have already finished. If not, try putting a Velcro dot on the back of each picture and connecting it to a felt board or pillow so they can pull it off as they finish each item.
Consider THEIR height
How can a child set the table or get their own glass of water if they can’t even reach the table or cups? Empty out a bottom drawer in the kitchen and fill it with child-safe cups, bowls and plates. Put a stool by the sink. Try a kid sized table for breakfast or lunch so they can practice setting the table. Put coat hooks at their level. Crawl around your house and check out the world from their view and then modify it.
When children have chores, they have a sense of accomplishment, a sense of worth, and they are able to clean up from simple mistakes on their own. Even toddlers can have a chore, whether it’s cleaning up their own toys, trying to make their bed, matching socks while you fold laundry, etc. Show your children that doing chores is a way to help the family, not just an obligation to get an allowance (we don’t give allowance for chores for this very reason). They will get a chance to feel success in a job well done and increase their self-esteem. The bonus is when you start them young, they work up to more advanced chores quicker….and suddenly you have 10 years old doing their own laundry, cleaning bathrooms and making easy dinners! So you have that to look forward to 😉