Amanda Clarke, Co-Founder
Putting on Your Shoes While Wearing Oven Mitts
What is easier:
- Your child pouring a glass of water for themselves or pouring it for them?
- Peeling a clementine for your child or letting him peel and eat it himself.
- Waiting for your three year-old to put on her shoes or putting them on for her?
You get the idea. Of course it's easier (and much quicker) to do these things (and many others) for our children. Even during a pandemic having the time to wait for your child to independently complete a simple task such as putting on shoes can feel like a waste of time-like watching someone putting on their shoes using oven mitts.
As Montessori teachers, Sarah and I spend a good part of our first days teaching children step-by-step how to put on and take off their shoes, prepare simple foods for themselves and learn how to pour water for themselves (and clean up). Our children yearn for this work; to do things for themselves. Do we still put on a child's shoes who is slow to wake up and whose parent is at the door to pick them up? Yes, of course, but we are very careful that most of the time we give each child the time to do it themselves. We have grown to understand that if we continually do these tasks for the children we are sending them the message that they CAN'T do them.
As we have gotten to know our students these last two weeks we have seen enormous growth in each child's confidence and abilities. We see our children's movements become stronger, more capable and, yes, faster, as they master their own shoes.
"The reaction of the children may be described as a "burst of independence" of all unnecessary assistance that suppresses their activity and prevents them from demonstrating their own capacities. ... These children reveal to us the most vital need of their development, saying: 'Help me to do it alone!'" (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'From Childhood to Adolescence', Clio Press Ltd, 65)