Thursday, April 19, 2012

Becoming a bit more independent each day...

It is a fact that children love to try things by themselves. One thing in particular is to get dressed all on their own. And if you are a busy mam like me, how many times have you had this dilemna: you are in a hurry, you are going to be late and trying to get everybody to jump in the car but your little man or your little princess has decided that today, he/she was going to put her shoes or coat all on his/her own????
Children like to start dressing themselves from about 2.5 years old. Giving them time and space to do it can be tricky sometimes in our busy schedules but it is actually quite important to repect their need for independence. By 4, children can be expected to be able to dress up on their own, but it may still require help with buttons, laces and zips. And let me praise here (again) the benefits of the Montessori method of Education.  Montessori designed great teaching tools for the Practical Life Exercises: the dressing frames.

Dressing Frames are an important part of the Practical Life Montessori Curriculum. They enable children to learn how to dress themselves, their dolls, and help others too! It gives them confidence and independence.  While doing these exercises, children develop their fine finger motor skills, understand the importance of sequence in tasks, as well as  learn how to focus and concentrate.

Lately, we have implemented a new rule in our classroom. Children had to bring a pair of slippers or crocks to school. This was initially for hygiene reasons. These shoes are left at school throughout the year. Upon arrival, children fit on what is now called "the school shoes". We have 2 or 3 chairs set by the entrance door, 2 baskets (an empty one for the shoes they are wearing and another one with the slippers). They look for their school shoes and proceed to put them on. When it is time to go home or go outside, they line up chairs, sit on them. I collect the school shoes in one of the baskets and give them all their home shoes.  They put their "home shoes" back on. It took a lot of getting used to it (especially for Rachel and I). This might not be the most practical way to do it but this is working at the moment. We do not have little cubicles by the school entrance as we are quite short of space and this is the solution we have found! Once the shoes are back on, we give them their coats (the coats are hanging in the entrance hall on litle individualised looks, with the snack boxes). The children have to put their coats/jackets on themselves and try to button/zip them up! Quite tricky for some of them but such a brilliant exercise! And do you know what? They get such a kick when they finally do the whole thing all on their own!!! Their little faces light up with pride and even though it is a bit more work and organisation for rachel and I, it is definitely worth it !!!!

Putting a coat on the Montessori way

OK... it doesn't always come right !!! But praising goes a long way and at least he tried!!

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