By now, our toddlers are happily normalizing to the school routine. They can find their own hooks and cubbies, and they move confidently about the room choosing activities to practice. They use polite table manners at snack time, and they know where to find necessary equipment when it’s time to clean up the classroom or wipe up a spill. Young children enjoy these responsibilities and can easily be more independent at home.
Make sure hooks are low enough for your toddler to reach, so she can hang up her coat as soon as she walks in the door. As winter approaches, it is helpful to keep jackets near the door, too, so your child can find them easily when it is time to go. A small whisk broom, a dishcloth cut into small squares and a sponge cut in half can be kept in a basket on a low shelf so your toddler can easily help with cleanup operations. The Montessori Services catalog offers a child-size carpet sweeper that is immensely helpful in allowing the child to clean up crumbs and dirt.
Allow plenty of time for your toddler to dress himself. Make sure clothes are of the slip-on/off nature to ensure independence and success. Acceptable choices for the season can be hung on a low rod in the closet to enable your child to choose his own clothes.
In the kitchen, provide a low shelf with snack items in small quantities so your child can fix herself a snack at any time. Child-size place settings, plates, bowls and glasses will enable your child to practice fine-motor eating skills at meal times. Again, allow plenty of time and resist the urge to feed your child. She will gain much more by feeding and dressing herself, even though it will take longer and the end product may not be as neat!
As Susan Stephenson said in Tomorrow’s Child magazine: “It is not good for children when we, parents and teachers, push them into stages that they are not ready for. But neither is it good for us to hold children back when they are ready to operate independently. Every unnecessary help is really a hindrance to development. This is true at any age, from a child who is ready to wean himself from nursing, to the young child who wants to pick out her own clothing in the morning, to the adolescent who wishes to learn to play the violin.”