Montessori at Home: Fostering Independence
March 7th, 2014
One of the central goals of Montessori education for the pre-primary classroom (3-6) is to encourage students to develop independence, particularly for their own self-care.
In the Montessori classroom, students are responsible for daily tasks such as washing dishes, preparing snack, dusting the room, feeding classroom pets, straightening toys, and sweeping. Sack-time is an open window of time during which students may choose to get a snack (or not). Lunch is served family-style.
Parents are encouraged to take steps in their home lives to support the independence of their kids. One way that we’ve done that at our house is drink pitchers and real glasses.
I purchased a set of child-sized drinking glasses (yes, they’re really glass) and two pitchers (yes, they’re pottery and breakable) from a Montessori supply catalog about a month ago. I wanted the kids to be able to poor their own drinks at dinner and pour their own milk for cereal in the mornings.
Josh was leery. He was particularly concerned about Buggie’s readiness for this responsibility. But both kids have accepted this new responsibility well. Never have you seen such concentration on a small face as when Buggie pours his milk.
Sure, there have been some spills but those are inevitable – and happened before, in the world of plastic cups and parental pouring! And using real glasses actually decreases spills because they are heavier and less likely to tip.
I’ve noticed two additional benefits to the new pitchers, beyond the obvious pride the kids take in serving themselves.
1) I don’t have to get up as much during meals. Hooray! I spend a lot of time at mealtimes leaping up from the table but at least now, I don’t have to refill cups.
2) The kids drink more. Neither of my big kids drink enough during the day. It doesn’t matter what I serve: water, milk, juice, or chocolate milk. They tend not to drink more than a few sips. But now, with their pitchers, I’m seeing them drink more. They get such a kick out of pouring that they want to do it again and again. But to pour more, they have to empty their cups first!