How Montessori Toddler Development Tips Give Kids Independence
The toddler and preschool years can be trying. It takes forever to get out the door. Personalities are being developed and then the word “no” has been discovered. Independence is being evaluated- and tested! We want to foster the development of our tiny little humans, yes. And- sometimes we just need to get out the door! It can be far too easy to fall into the habit of doing everything for our kids. Yet with a little bit of work, we can foster independence and make life easier for ourselves too!
Winter can be an especially difficult time with young children at home. Getting out the door takes a lot more clothing and gears. We have more layers, more buttons, more snaps, and laces. We’re also stuck indoors a lot more often and working hard to keep cabin fever away. This is the perfect time of year to put a few systems in place. We can use the benefit of the extra time indoors to start fostering more of the independence our children yearn for!
Montessori Toddler Development Tips Help Toddlers & Preschoolers With Independence
The Montessori method places a large focus on independence for kids. In a Montessori classroom, you’ll find this everywhere. There are kid-size sinks where you’ll see even tiny children washing dishes after a meal. Kid-size cleaning supplies are provided and children happily clean up after themselves. Shoes are set neatly along the wall with coats hung tidily on pegs. One of my favorite things, when I worked at a Montessori school, was the tiny little vases and fresh flowers. Even our 2-year-olds got in on these daily activities. Most Montessori toddler programs even have tiny little toilets and sinks. (It’s worth it to take a tour of a local Montessori school to check it out! Homeschoolers can garnish a lot of ideas by checking out a classroom set up!)
Not only are the classes set up to be friendly to toddler development, the kids joyfully participate. While it’s not logistical for homeschoolers to have quite a set-up, there is a lot that we can do. If we set our children up for success, they’ll be able to fall into a routine much easier. As we give them skills towards independence, suddenly these years become much smoother and more joy-filled.
Putting these systems in place don’t have to be time-consuming. You can start with a few things this winter.
- Set up shelves.
In a Montessori setup, there’s a place for everything and everything has its place. When you walk into a Montessori home- you’ll know right away. There will be low shelves at the child’s height with a few items. Skip the overflowing toy bins. Skip the catch-all drawers. Provide a few low shelves with just a few items on them. The toys can be rotated out on a regular basis. By setting things up this way, even the youngest of children know exactly where the toy goes when they are done playing with it. Toddler development can be fostered with an easy-to-access space for your children.
I will never forget how cute it was watching my son toddle back and forth from his shelf to put things away. He even started to “get” the concept as a crawler- the toys were not put back in exactly the right spot but they made it back to the shelf. Part of the reason playrooms get so messy is because kids get too overwhelmed. They get stuck with decision fatigue and too much stimulation and don’t know how to even clean up. Setting up a few shelves for littles can be huge at home- especially for mothers raising a large family.
- Create a cubby.
Yes, we all think of cubbies when we think of preschool. Kids LOVE to have their own little cubby area by the door. Even if it’s just a shoe box and a stick-on-the wall hook for their coat. If kids are provided a space all their own, putting away their “gear” becomes much easier. Providing kids with a little Montessori toddler cubby helps organize your home in amazing ways!
When my son was little he had space right next to the door. It was a small box for his shoes, a small box for his hat, mittens & scarf, and a little hook for his coat. As a tiny child, it was great to have a spot right at the front door that was nice and organized and all his own. He even took part in selecting everything. I’ve seen parents build cubbies out of wood and let their children decorate them too.
- Work on shoe skills.
Yes, learning to tie shoes is hard. Yes, toddler shoes can be the thing of nightmares. Some children won’t be able to do this for quite some time. If you can at least get your child independently putting on and taking off their shoes, that can save a lot of time. Put some time into it when you’re not trying to rush out the door! Snow boots are a good way to practice because they’re easier to slip into. (Practice putting on a hat, coat, and mittens help too!)
Tag at the toes.
Oh, friends, the tag at the toes is one of the best kept Montessori toddler secrets. Children unzip their coats and place them on the ground in front of them. The coat is placed so the tag is at the child’s toes. The child can then bend down, stick their arms through the arm holes and flip the coat up and over their head. It takes a bit of practice but is hands down the easiest way to teach kids to get their coats on.
Plus, it’s super cute! I used to love watching a classroom full of kids doing this when I taught.
- Coat on backward.
For trips where you’re child needs to get in a car seat, putting a coat on backward is a great trick to have up your sleeve. Toddler development means little ones need to be in still. Carseats and bulky coats aren’t a safe combination. When the weather is cold, we want our children to be warm and safe in the car. Kids can get strapped into their car seat and then slip their coat on backward to stay warm in the car. Kids can learn how to do this with practice. Strap them into their seats in a nice, warm car when you’re not rushing trying to get somewhere. Take the time to practice and it’ll save you a lot of work when you’re trying to get somewhere on time. (Or teach them tag at the toes with a nice, warm, thin fleece that can be worn in a car seat.)
- Purchase a tiny snow shovel and push broom.
Kids LOVE to help shovel snow. Granted, tiny children aren’t going to be clearing a ton of snow. But they really enjoy it. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and the ability to help. (Plus it tires them out so they’ll take a good nap!)
- Build a love of learning.
Winter is the perfect time to cozy up inside and foster a love of learning. Young children can use our kits, and we include activities for them in our monthly printable packs. Everything is set up in a way designed to help foster toddler development and the independence your child desires. Plus the educational skills you desire!
When we foster independence from an early age, our kids needs are met much easier. Toddlers are misunderstood. It’s hard to be such a bitty person in a great big world. With a few simple steps, we can help set them up for success! Stay tuned for more tips on setting up a Montessori-inspired home for even the youngest members of your family.
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Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Amanda and her family reside in an Airstream parked in Washington State. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, she also blogs, works as a virtual assistant, and loves creating hand-lettering pieces.