“I Can Do That” Honoring Your Child’s New Found Independence

by Lisa Trout, Admissions Director 
and Lise Riet-Lague, Director of Advancement
Chesterfield Montessori School

“Wow, my child can do THAT?” is a frequently heard exclamation from parents of children enrolled in a Montessori school. The answer is always a resounding, “Yes!”

In an authentic Montessori environment, children acquire many new skills that enable them to act with independence, confidence and self-direction. Teachers facilitate this by creating an orderly, harmonious environment with child-sized furniture, scientifically designed Montessori materials and an atmosphere that welcomes mistakes. Dr. Maria Montessori said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” In a Montessori classroom a child is given ample time and space to work at a new task until the task is mastered.

Once these new skills are acquired at school, a child is anxious to practice them at home as well. As a parent, it isn’t always easy to see your child struggle while learning something new. Your instinct may be to rush in and help, but if you hold back and let your child do for herself, she will further develop her coordination and concentration and lengthen her attention span. By slowing down and giving your child real life tasks to complete with room to make mistakes, you are making an investment in her future and sending her the message that you believe she is capable.

Here are a few simple ways to support you child’s new-found independence and need for autonomy:

  • Put a small pitcher of milk or water on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator where it is easy for your child to reach.
  • Designate a lower kitchen cabinet for dishes your child can use to get his own snack.
  • Create a clean-up area, stocked with a child-sized broom, a floor brush and dustpan, a sponge and a towel.
  • Assign simple household tasks, such as setting the table or rinsing dishes.
  • Allow your child to care for the family pet by giving the animal food and water daily.

A young child is very interested in mimicking the work of the adult, and these jobs will help him feel as though he is a contributing member of the family. By honoring your child’s independence at a young age and welcoming his help, you will experience less struggles down the road.

So the next time you hear the words “I can do it” from your child, take a deep breath and allow her the extra time that she needs to accomplish her goal. The positive results will reach far into the future.

For more information contact the Chesterfield Montessori School, 14000 Ladue Road, Chesterfield, MO 63017. 314-469-7150. www.chesterfieldmontessori.org.