Happy May! This month, we’re going to explore a sometimes controversial topic for families: Chores. We won’t be giving you ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’, but rather, ideas for creative ways you can include your child into your daily routine. Chores are great practical life activities, and an opportunity for your child to embrace care of their environment!
To get things started this week, we’d like to empower parents to prepare their child’s environment for success. ‘Prepared environment’ is a very important Montessori philosophy, and at its core, it means carefully constructing a space with your child in mind. In the classroom, this means facilitated independent learning and exploration; for example using low shelves and tables, keeping materials in a specific place, and providing time and space to explore.
So, how can you prepare your home environment for chores? Let’s get started:
Observation is Key
Take time to observe your child this week, watching for interests and habits. Are they drawn to water, or small pieces, or outdoor activities? Is there a specific place for their toys, and do they know where they belong? When finished playing, do they expect you to pick up, or do they try by themselves first?
Take Away: Make a plan to incorporate your child in more ‘care of the environment’ activities based on your observations. Does your child love water? Make them a part of washing the dishes or floor! Perhaps they would like to water houseplants or outdoor plants. And remember, your child’s interests change based on what they need at that time in their development, so stay flexible!
Evaluate your child’s current responsibilities
As a family, who does what? If your child is currently responsible for any chores, does he or she follow through with them? Perhaps you don’t have a system, but rather habits that have evolved naturally. Think about why Dad is in charge of laundry, and why Mom does dishes.
Take Away: Your child’s skills grow quickly, so perhaps chores they once had an interest in, or were age-appropriate, no longer are. Slowly implement changes to the daily routine, even for parents or older siblings.
Language is Important
At the end of a long day, the last thing grown-ups want to do sometimes is chores. But keeping a positive attitude and using positive language about care of your environment is important. If a child feels your distaste or lack of desire to do something, they will emulate you, in the same way they copy your words or mannerisms.
Take Away: If you can, avoid bemoaning chores in front of your children. Perhaps instead comment on how nice it is to have a clean floor, or tidy closet. Try this type of language, “I would love to read a book with you before bed, but unfortunately we can’t do that until these legos are in their bin. Let’s do it together, then you can pick out a book.”
Use this week as a time for observation of your home environment! Keep in mind that your child is capable, and actually willing to help care for their space with the right preparation.
For the next three weeks, we’ll explore different areas of the house, and provide practical applications for your child with inspiration from the Montessori classroom. Stay tuned!