Skills for Independence
A toddler spends a large amount of time learning the self-help skills that lead to independence from constant adult help. In our classrooms, we facilitate this development in several ways.
Special “practical life” exercises break down daily tasks into manageable steps, and enable repeated practice to achieve mastery. Toddlers often are in a frustrating position: they want to do things for themselves, but do not know how. Many tantrums can be avoided by enabling a child to do things for himself at a time when he is eager to do so.
Thus, we offer our toddlers endless opportunities to practice daily tasks – from pouring (first, with solid objects, like beans, then rice, then water) to sorting; from washing a table to watering plants; from dressing themselves in simple clothes (including showing them how to put on a jacket using a trick we call the “Montessori throw,” where the child positions the jacket in front of him where he can see it, puts his hands into the sleeves, then flips the jacket over his head) to mastering buttons, bows and zippers. By performing one step at a time, a child is easily able to master new skills, giving her a great sense of personal achievement and pride.
The crown jewel of the independence curriculum is our elaborate snack routine. Parents regularly comment how they are amazed that 2 ½ year olds can independently serve, jointly eat, and clean up after their daily snack.