This is one of Maria Montessori’s cornerstones to her whole philosophy and I believe it is a really important one. These days it is ‘easier’ to do stuff for our kids because it is quicker. It is easier for us to put on their shoes for them, easier for us to put their laundry away, easier for us to prepare, cook and serve dinner but by making it easier for us, are we not doing our children an injustice?
Learning to tie your laces takes time as do all other things that we learn along the way, it is not our job to do things for our children (although it often feels like that) it is our job to provide them with the tools to do it themselves, and sometimes, the only tool they need is a bit more time.
I noticed recently that my 7-year-old son’s closet has been getting rather wild. Annoyed, I would pick up the clean clothes that hadn’t made it to the shelf and put them away, grumbling to myself as I did it, after maybe the third time, I caught myself in the act and suddenly stopped. What was I doing? I wasn’t fixing the problem by putting his clothes away for him, something he has been doing independently since a toddler, I was just letting it slide and getting annoyed at the same time.
Taking a step back, literally I took a good long hard look at the closet to figure out what was going on and decided we needed a change. We built this house ourselves so I am pretty happy with most of it, the exception being this closet, it drives me nuts. We obviously weren’t paying attention when they asked about the set up for it. The shelves are non-adjustable and are only half the depth of the closet, wasted space in my mind. I decided to take out a couple of the shelves and put a clothes rail in for all his tops.
I moved all his games to the higher shelf, which isn’t ideal because he can’t easily reach them but they are the least used items in the closet so it is the best place for them. I cleared out loads of junk, I was pretty ruthless – easier when a certain little person isn’t around to sneak things back in! The transformation has been great, he is loving the new set up and is happy he doesn’t have to fold t-shirt anymore! he has thanked me several times and I have noticed he is wearing a bigger variety of t-shirts, not just the same 3 in rotation!
From the very top – the brown boxes are the Montessori Continent Boxes
Games and puzzles
Hanging are t-shirts and long sleeved tops, hoodies
Under the hanging clothes are boxes with undies and socks
2 big striped boxes, one has trousers one has thermals/PJs
2 big striped boxes, one had knights one has spy equipment/Perla beads/toys
Big green basket has lots of small random toys.
The white boxes, one had toy cars the other has play food
Hanging on the door – belts and ties
I often see photos of beautiful kids closets and it’s easy to start beating yourself up because your own kids closets are nothing like that but realistically, when you see those kind of images, there are 5 outfits in total hanging up and about 3 toys on display, where are they hiding the rest of the stuff? It is professionally set up, photographed and lit and chances are it is in a studio and not a real bedroom at all.
Pretty is all very good and well and the designer side of me loves a good combination of beauty and function but at the end of the day, when it comes to kids being able to do things independently, function is the most important issue.
So, your homework – write in the comments section one thing that you have noticed your child struggling with and what you are going to do to change it to make it more achievable for them.
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