Guess what children really love?
Summer School is about to end, and I wont be available to send out the post as usual tomorrow, so I decided to do it today. I just want us to make sure that the children really have a great time this year at Summer School. Children are so precious and I love their vibrancy and energy to want to learn and do what we as adults do. Did you know that, that is their major desire, to become like you and do what you do, especially between the 3 to 9 years age groups?
I remember how several children cry on the first day of school as Mum or Dad dropped them off! And then for most they settled in very quickly when they saw other children doing different interesting activities.
The children soon joined in the fun and the crying ended for most. It usually takes one to three days to settle our children down into just walking in and waving ‘bye’ to the parent who drops them off at the door.
So what are the activities that grab their attention so much that they forget so quickly about wanting to go back to their familiar environment with Mum and Dad? These activities are what we call Practical Life in the Montessori environment.
Practical Life activities are everyday exercises and jobs that we do, to look after ourselves, our environment and the society at large. We actually talked a bit about some of these in our post Summer School Good Manners. Today we are going to briefly mention some of these activities that we really should encourage our children to learn: as they aid their development, growth and build their confidence and concentration skills, which children need in order to learn effectively later on in life.
Questions for you: Do the children know how to sweep the floor? Dust the furniture? Wash their plates? Even wash a few small items of clothing? They should do. Please do not let the children grow up without getting the opportunity to learn all these things and so much more. To start with children really want to learn how to do these activities. Yes they wont do it so well to start with, but practice makes perfect doesn’t it? Also it is a very good way to get to bond with them. You can also use these activities to expand their vocabulary, by teaching them the names of the utensils etc, that you use to accomplish the tasks. Always use the correct names. For example, ‘broom, brush, dust pan (what is sometimes called packer-even if packer is the word used mostly in your community as a teacher, parent try and also teach the child the correct English word as well)’
It is not acceptable that the house-girl does all the chores in the house! Do let your children learn and don’t get so upset with your child’s school because they have shown your child how to sweep or mop the floor. These are activities our children love.
They would also like to join us in cooking the meals, but we don’t let them. When they grow older and we expect them to contribute and help out, they wont want to do so, if they have not been doing it from when they were younger. In actual fact they will hate the idea of doing any chores around the house. Children can only give you back from what experiences you have given them. So please parents and teachers let’s help the children practice doing what they really love to do: learning how to do all those wonderful chores and activities around the house that you think they can’t do. Children are usually silently screaming the words: ‘I can do it, let me do it myself!’ And that is the secret to why children settle down in Montessori schools much faster. The activities they love doing are provided as part of the school’s daily routine. Once they start they usually don’t want to stop, they keep repeating the exercise over and over again.
Here is a List that you can start with:
Care of Self: brushing teeth, blowing the nose, putting on shoes, buttoning a shirt or blouse, combing the hair, washing the face, washing hands and nails. Care of the Environment: sweeping the floor, moping the floor, setting the table, dusting the furniture, folding clothes, carrying a chair, rolling a mat.
Other activities include: opening and closing boxes and bottles, pouring beans, rice or water from one container to the other, scooping with a spoon items from one container to another etc. etc. etc. If you do these activities with the children you will see them shine, with joy written all over their faces they love these activities a lot. So have fun doing Practical Life activities this summer and have a wonderful time with the children.