What Montessori meant by this is that, in the eyes of a child, (especially one that has been given the freedom to develop without outside negative influences) there is no difference between work and play. Tasks thought to be mundane and laborious by adults bring a little child joy.
Because Quentin has always had the freedom to choose practical life tasks from his shelves and around the home, he now can independently complete many of his own wanting without help from us.
Although he still has access to Practical Life shelves all week at school, I have completely removed Practical Life from his home shelves. Instead we have supplied him with real, good quality tools that are in the home along side our own tools.
This had been a process and not something that happened overnight.
If there is an opportunity to learn a new skill (such as using the sewing machine) I will still go back and give him a proper lesson and then observe him as he masters it.
Last week I followed him around with my camera and took some pictures as examples of the Practical Life tasks he chooses in one day .
He first chooses to hang his own freshly washed laundry. A child sized basket and clothes horse make it easier to work with. He uses old fashion pegs because his hands aren’t strong enough to pinch the spring loaded ones.
Of all the activities he chooses, he loves gardening most of all. The wheelbarrow and tools were our Christmas gift to him last year. My Mother bought him the perfect sized “working gloves” as he calls them.
These are only some of the Practical Life things he chooses for himself each day. He also washes his dishes, mops the floors and pretty much anything else he’s decided would be a good project.
Of course these things don’t make up his whole day but I love seeing him carrying a tool on the way to something he’s got planned.
How did all this come to be? Well these types of activities first started as prepared shelf activities. The scooping of beans from bowl to bowl with a spoon is exactly the same wrist movement he now uses to transfer earth in the garden. His dustpan and brush started out as a shelf activity too. When he got better at it we removed the activity and placed the items in his pantry shown here.
New to this? Give it a try on a small scale. You might not be blown away by how much your 2 year old loves to mop the kitchen floor, but I’ll bet you will be surprised by the fact that they will do a pretty good job.