So...it has been quite a while since I did a chapter summary of Tim Seldin's How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way. Chapter Three is "Help me to do it myself." This is a good chapter for where we are. As I think I've mentioned before, I need to be fostering more independence in my children. I value independence; often times I can the easier, quicker route and just do it for them. I need to slow down and let them do more for themselves.
Here are the high points from the chapter that I really loved. I bolded the ideas that especially resonated with me. I put in brackets any ideas that are mine.
Chapter Three: Let Me Do It
The lessons your child learns can be broken down into three areas:
care of self
everyday tasks around the house
grace and courtesy
Children who feel respected and competent develop a greater sense of emotional well-being that children who are doted upon. [This idea is one of the ones I love the most about Montessori theory.]
It is important to teach the skill itself but also help your child develop a sense of calmness, concentration, cooperation, self-discipline, and self-reliance. Parents have to set the tone and serve as a daily role model for everyday living skills. We need to be poised, purposeful, precise, caring, and giving.
The best way to encourage your child to try new skills is to demonstrate them precisely and slowly in simple ways he can understand. Then give him time to practice, and to be allowed to make his own mistakes and correct them.
How often do we find ourselves continuing to bundle our children into their coats or shoes long after they are capable of managing to put them on by themselves? [I am totally guilty of this.]
Mastering an everyday skill is made easier by careful planning, and patient instruction and support from parents.
If taught where things belong and how to return them correctly, children internalize this sense of order, and carry it with them for the rest of their lives. [Again, this is such a weak area for me. Order in the home is a constant struggle for me.]
Establish a ground rule and gently but firmly teach your child that while she may select anything from her shelves to work and play with for as long as s he wishes, she must return it when she is done, and may not remove something new until the last thing has been put away.
[The author gives many specific ways to help foster independence in children. Just a few of them that I've tried are brushing teeth, washing hands, sweeping. Ones I need to work on are brushing hair, snaps and buttons, washing dishes, setting table.]
The rationale behind letting children use cups and bowls that break if they are dropped or misused is that children quickly learn to be careful and controlled when they use them.
Young children absorb and remember every nuance of their early home environment.
Avoid things which are cheap and made of plastic. Children respond to the beauty of wood, glass, silver, brass, and similar natural materials.
Children learn by practice and repetition. [This is one of my favorite things about this age. I love that they enjoy things over and over again. I love listening to them sing the same song or recite the same nursery rhyme or story over and over.]
If you approach things correctly, without nagging, impatience, criticism, and redoing something your child has done because it is not quite perfect, she will take delight in helping care for her home.
One way to encourage your child to eat healthy snacks is to get him involved in making them himself. Make sure your child can easily reach all the ingredients and utensils he needs to make a snack without help.