10 Things

10 Things to do at home to support your child’s growth in self-discipline

  • Prepare your child’s environment with furniture and equipment that are her size. For example, when she wants to wash carrots or strawberries, she can sit on a chair by a table that are her size and use small kitchen tools that fit her hands. Show her clear ways to do tasks such as dusting a shelf, sweeping, washing socks, wiping the table after a meal, folding up and putting away clothes, setting the table, and more.
  • Let her learn from her own mistakes. She will not work as you work, quickly and efficiently. If she is learning how to use a mop, there may be soap and water on the floor when she is finished. The process is far more important to her inner growth than having clean floors. Help her to clean up by sharing the task with her rather than stepping in and doing it for her.
  • Use household items and toys for their intended purpose. If you child throws her shape-sorting toy, say, “Be gentle with your toys.” Young children sometimes throw on a whim, but it doesn’t mean they are destructive. If she throws the toy again, redirect her by saying, “Come outside and let’s throw the ball.”
  • When appropriate, offer real choices. Choices should be simple, such as peanut butter or cheese on her sandwich or buying red or green apples. Too many choices are overwhelming; a handful of choices a day are enough at this age.
  • Speak to her positively and sincerely. Your child will thrive with positive statements but does not need to be showered with empty praise. Instead of saying, “You’re such a good helper”, say, “Thank you for setting the table.” Instead of ordering, “Get off the table”, lift her off the table and say, “Feet on the floor.”
  • Do not feel the need to reward your child for doing what you want her to do. For children, the reward is in the work itself. Adults may consider “work” something we must do, but for children their work is their play.
  • Keep consistent routines. Children need regular sleep times, regular meals, time with family members, and opportunities to expend energy and play outside. When her days are predictable she knows better what to expect.
  • Set limits that work for your family, and make sure that everyone applies them. When you give in to your child’s demands, it is difficult for her to understand what is expected of her.
  • Evaluate each situation before reacting. If your child has lost control, ask yourself if she is hungry, tired, frustrated, or overstimulated. Each situation calls for a different response.
  • Realize that punishment doesn’t work. Punishment has limited value, as it causes the child to focus on what not to do rather than on what to do. Additionally, it often makes a small problem bigger. Young children can often remember the punishment, but may not connect the punishment to the behavior that triggered it.
Children cooking
Boy sweeping
Girl painting
Girl polishing

How is Montessori Different?

The Real Difference:

The formation of children’s fundamental capacities is hugely important during the first years of life – not just academic learning but the ability to concentrate, persevere and think for themselves as well as the ability to interact well with others. Children who have been given the right kind of support during these formative years grow into adults who are self-motivated and love learning, can think flexibly and creatively and who are not only conscious of the needs of others but actively foster harmony as they go through life.

Traditional Versus Montessori:

In traditional education adults decide what children need to learn and the ability to retain and reproduce information is used as a measure of academic success. The teacher is the active giver of information and children are passive receivers. In the Montessori approach it is all about the activity of the child. The teacher takes on a different role, that is, to provide the right kind of circumstances so that children can be guided to find what they need from what is on offer. Children then become active learners and are able to reach their own unique potential because they are learning at their own pace and rhythm focussing on their own particular developmental needs at that moment.

The Montessori approach provides:

  • An environment that serves the particular needs of each child’s stage of development
  • An adult who understands child development and acts as a guide to help children find their own natural path
  • Freedom for children to engage in their own development according to their own particular developmental timeline

Source: Aid to Life, aidtolife.org.