“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities which they can perform themselves and which keep them from being a burden to others because of their inabilities. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence”.
Dr. Maria Montessori
Toddlers are naturally eager to learn these things. “Do it myself” might well be the refrain for the toddler years! Our day-to-day lives often make for less than ideal circumstances to help our children achieve the independence they crave. Our homes are not optimized around a little person with their height of less than three feet: Objects are hard to reach, too heavy, or too big for little hands to use. Our days are not set up to move at their speed: We rarely just happen to have ten spare minutes to wait while our almost two year old puts on their jacket!
Yet enabling a toddler to become more independent has huge benefits, both short-term and long-term. Power struggles decrease when a child feels more in control. Temper tantrums are less frequent when a toddler is busy doing things for themself rather than resisting their parent’s efforts to do things for them! A child who feels capable because they can act in the world, without needing to rely on Mom or Dad for every little thing, is a child who is developing self-confidence.
Last week we introduced the routine of changing into indoor shoes at the beginning of the morning! At this point, your children have learned to recognize their space and continue to work hard in the skill of removing their own shoes, coordinating their hands to get the new shoe on and pulling and closing the velcro tabs. Choosing a tissue, observing their faces in the mirror and wiping up their nose when needed has been a daily work for all as well, and so has placing their hands under the soap dispenser, opening the faucet, and properly washing and drying their hands independently. Your children have been mastering the skill of taking their snack box from the snack shelf, carrying it and bringing it to their respective table, opening the box and taking their snack out. They also have been learning the importance of asking for help when needed and remaining seated while eating. These are big steps for little people but your children have been absorbing the routines beautifully and their skills improve daily.
Reminder: When choosing clothing, please consider items that are easy for your child to manipulate independently. Please avoid overalls, belts, pants with buttons, zippers or snaps, tights, onesies, jeans, tight leggings, bulky or long dresses, and other clothing that restricts movement.
Pants with an elastic waist allow your child to participate successfully as opposed to becoming frustrated and causing a loss of interest in toileting. We also recommend shirts that are no longer than the waistline.
Have a great weekend,
Mrs. Hood and Ms. Maria