Montessori at Home : Chores

When we began this blog, we talked about a ‘Montessori at Home’ segment which would (hopefully) help you live some of the Montessori ideas in your own home in small ways. The ‘small’ part of that was important to me. I think we all need baby steps.

One thing I think many of us struggle with is when to grant our children independence and how to teach them to be independent. I think often of the story about boiling a frog – if you put the frog in boiling water she jumps out but if you put a frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature of the water the frog ends up cooked.

And, no I don’t know why you’d want to boil a frog.

So I was pretty excited to find a link from the Maria Montessori Facebook page (which is affiliated with Montessori Internationale) to an age appropriate chore chart. Ah-ha! Start my two year old sorting socks and by 4 he’s doing all the laundry in the house!

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When I first saw this chart I thought ‘well, that’s fantastic but the real issue isn’t what to get them to do but HOW to get them to do it’. But… I don’t think that’s true in our family.

Generally, my kids (especially the 0-6 two) WANT desperately to help. Frances, at seven, realizes that there are more exciting things to do than peel potatoes but, when asked, she’ll do it and when she does it she feels proud of the results.

I am realizing that in our home at least, the problem has been me. At this point to get help folding the laundry means both that folding the laundry takes longer and that things aren’t actually folded “correctly”. So this year I’m working hard both on letting my perfectionism go and realizing that it’s not all about me. It’s about them getting to adulthood as functional people. I am hoping that by sixteen (or maybe earlier – I keep expectations low) this laundry investment will pay off and my kids will be either doing their own laundry or helping with the family laundry.

Maria called it the ‘Practical Life’ and teaching it to our children forms them into practical people. I find the chart to be a starting point to understanding where my kids can help and what my expectations should be.

Do your children help in your home? How? If you have tips and tricks, please share.

“Education of even a very small child… does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.” -Maria Montessori

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