“Do not tell them how to do it. Show them how to do it and do not say a word. If you tell them, they will watch your lips move. If you show them, they will want to do it themselves.”
– Maria Montessori
We are continuing our focus on Practical Life this month, so I thought I would share our preschooler’s experience this week in caring for her main homeschooling space, which displays some of the beautiful Montessori materials she works with on a daily basis.
Care of the Environment
Care of our environment is an important component of Practical Life, whether you are referring to a home, school, or the outdoors. This activity, for us and how we implement it, relates to seven of the eleven sensitive periods of development. It appeals to our child’s need for order, language, movement, sensation, small objects, emotional control, and music (courtesy of our Echo).
When it comes to cleaning, our preschooler is usually on board for any activity that incorporates water. So, if the process includes time at the sink or using a spray bottle, she’s all in. Activities such as folding or general tidying up interest her intermittently, but definitely more so if her brother and I are participating as well. We have always used cloth diapers on our little ones, as opposed to disposables, until they transition to the potty. Even before she was wearing underwear, she rarely took an interest in separating or folding those or other laundry, not to say I blame her. Therefore, I continue to model those less desirable tasks for her, and my son, who is 1.5, will usually happily participate in his own way.
Care of the Homeschool Environment
Our living room/playroom functions as our daughter’s main homeschooling space. She shows a persistent interest in her homeschool materials, especially the sensorial materials, as does her brother. I hoped an activity that includes her Montessori materials and a spray bottle was sure to be more enticing than just putting things in their proper place at the end of the day. Her participation in that type of cleaning, like I said, is hit or miss right now.
I set the cleaning caddy and supplies down in front of a couple of her shelves and began to clean, starting by removing The Montessori Pink Tower, cube by cube, and wiping it down with the cloth. Then I wiped the empty shelf area that remained. It wasn’t long after that I handed over the diluted Mrs. Meyers spray bottle and cleaning cloth for her to take over.
Movement and Water
Within a few minutes we were working together, cleaning separate areas of the same room. She was peacefully moving from one area to the next, giving a few sprays, smiling as the cleaner ran down the object, and then giving it a wipe. When she was done cleaning her shelves, she moved on to her full-length mirror next to them, and then the back door glass. I kept quiet and moved on to the easel, couch, and windows.
In the process, she skipped over the shorter toddler shelf that displays her brother’s toys, so I cleaned and organized them for him while he finished up his nap. When she was finished, I picked up the cleaning caddy with the supplies, we washed our hands, and I thanked her for her effort.
This is the first time our preschooler has shown this much interest in a cleaning routine that doesn’t involve the faucet or tub. Now I’m left half wondering if our nightly tidying up sessions should involve a spray bottle and cleaning cloth as well. Hmmm.
Anyway, we hope you all enjoy some Practical Life with your preschoolers this month.
More Practical Life
- Montessori Practical Life in the Kitchen: Baking Blueberry Cake
- Montessori Gardening: Empower Kids to Grow Their Own Food & Eat Healthy
- Practical Life: Care of Self and the Montessori Bathroom
- Montessori Pets and Caring for Animals as Practical Life
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