A love song to Montessori, part two.

So here's a quick rundown of household activities Finn and I do together (see yesterday's post for how I got started doing this):  

Teeth and hair-brushing: Finn rarely gets the right end of the brush on his head, but he does love to do it and especially loves to come over and brush my hair hit my head with the brush! He's pretty good with the tooth brush, though he thinks that twisting his torso means he's moving the brush back and forth.  

Sweeping: He bangs around his little broom while I sweep under the table (and then he picks through the dust pile, scavenging for food scraps!). Every once in awhile he gets the right motion, and soon I'm going to put a masking-tape square on the floor, (a la Tim Seldin) to give a visual reference for where to sweep the dirt. (One "Montessori" thing I haven't yet tried is devise any games meant to help him practice the skills used in the real activity. But I'm thinking that a little game with sweeping buttons into the masking-tape-square might be useful in helping him get the sweeping motion down, with a larger target than dust.)   

 Wiping: If he finds a cloth he wipes off every surface he can find, cleaning things I'm quite confident he's never seen me clean (because I've never cleaned them!). So I give him one if I'm dusting, or spot-cleaning the floor, or otherwise wiping something down. We have pretty clean chair and table legs, thanks to him.   

Kitchen: We recently purchased a step-stool from Ikea (go Bekvam!) and it's the perfect height for Finn to stand and watch me wash dishes, wash vegetables, etc.  I don't let him up there when I'm doing anything with the knife or at the stove ... our kitchen is so small that he could easily reach both counters from the stool in the middle. But he loves to watch and play in the water, and he helps too ... I hand him a lettuce leaf, he dips it in the water, and then places on a towel to dry. Of course, the clean lettuce often gets mixed back in with the dirty stuff, but that's ok. It's all clean in the end.  


Laundry: He actually is a help with the laundry. We have a front-loader in our kitchen, so I pile the clothes in front of the washer, then he puts them in, one at a time. It's funny--he loves doing it, but he doesn't have a long attention span for this one--he's done about halfway though and wants to shut the door. Finn unloading the dry clothes is about the cutest thing you've ever seen. He takes things out, one at a time, and places them in his little walker-cart, which he then wheels to the sofa and unloads. (Ok, so, full disclosure: this takes a lot of direction from me, and he's only interested in one load and his load consists of maybe four washcloths. But still, he likes it and he's learning. and it's so darn cute.)

 Montessori emphasizes "process not product" and I try to remember this when I watch him spend a very long time picking out those four washcloths and dropping them deliberately in the cart, then taking them out again and then back into the cart. He's not interested in the product of an empty dryer, he's interested in the process of taking something out of one place and setting it in a new place. 

 I think this explains why learning to eat with a fork is so much less frustrating for Finn than I expected.  He's perfectly happy to hold the fork, make an attempt to stab something, then eat with his hands for while, and then try again with the fork. He frequently picks up food with his hands and sticks it on the fork's tines himself. We keep waiting for him to get upset at his lack of success, until we remember that to him, he is succeeding. He's ultimately getting the food in his mouth, and he's learning how to use a fork, and again, the process seems to be as satisfying to him as the product. 





Meredith said...

I love these two posts! I also own the Tim Seldon book and read it when Jack was a wee one. After reading your posts, I have pulled it out again to refresh my memory for Max! I must say, now that Jack is 4 1/2 it is amazing to see how much that pedagogy is a part of him. I was actually thinking of doing a post sometime about toys and their ridiculousness because lately we hear a lot of comments like: "This is more fun than playing toys." He said that to Mark when they were working in the yard together putting in edging and mulch. He loved figuring out the area and using his own small hammer to pound it in. He would of course run away go under a tree, come back with a bug or leaf or something, but he was so proud to be a part of the process. The other day, I was going to make bread and he was busy playing with something and I asked if he would like to help or if he wanted to keep playing. He jumped up and said, "Oooh, yay, I want to do cooking and baking and be a cooker man. That is better than playing this." Our bread ended up to be a flop and tasted pretty yucky, and wow did this provide lots of giggles. And, he even wanted to do a search on the internet for a recipe with his idea of a yummy bread. Anyway, sorry for the long comment. "Playing" to Jack really isn't about toys. In fact, just yesterday we went through all our toys and decided what we could donate. We literally cut the toys in half! He just kept saying, "I don't play with that we can donate it." He would much rather do real stuff, or just imaginary play with couch cushions, a scarf, a spatula, and a stuffed animal friend. Happy sweeping, cooking, and sorting Finn!!!

foodsmith said...

I love this--that Jack is a great kid! I would LOVE to hear what toys you found to be really worth it ... ones that got a lot of play and that he enjoyed for a long time.