One of the thing I loved about Maria Montessori’s activities is that many are designed to last a child over a number of years of their development and to teach our kids to push their boundaries. She had a great way of breaking things down so that it is simple, yet challenging to say, a three-year-old but then a 6-year-old can pick up the same equipment and still get something out of it.
Of course, she spent many years refining her equipment and getting everything ‘just so’ but moms at home can apply the same ideas to activities that their kids love.
Kids love to be challenged, have you noticed how young children push the boundaries and try to do the most difficult things, even if, as adults we know they are going to fail. They will try and lift a box three times bigger than themselves or attempt to climb the stairs unassisted, even though you have warned them not to. If you put a child in a room full of balls of different sizes, they are drawn to the largest one, ever wondered why? They are pushing their limits (and sometimes moms limits too!) as part of their growth, it is how they learn what they can and can’t do. It is sad that this stage is often quashed out of kids as we wrap them in a ‘safe’ bubble to live in.
So how you can you apply this love of pushing the boundaries to activities that you do at home?
Think of something your child loves to do, something that enthrals them. Now ask yourself the following questions…
1. How can I make this more difficult?
How can you stretch their abilities both mental and physically?
- For counting activities, add more numbers or bigger numbers, adding more to most things makes it more difficult
- Learning to read, add more letters/sight words/blends/vocabulary
- For pincher activities, make the items smaller, the holes smaller, the items being transferred more difficult to pick up
- Practical life activities, use heavier or bigger equipment, more difficult items to fold, more steps in a sequence
- Large movement activities, make the goal smaller, the need to jump higher, run faster, move quicker, balance longer
2. How can I make this more interesting?
How can you change or add to an activity to breathe new life into it?
- When drawing or painting add new mediums, different types of paint and paper, new brushes, new techniques
- Incorporate the child’s new interest, how can you include their sudden love of worms into the activity?
- How can you take the same activity but do it from a different angle, what happens if you do it blindfolded? Or backwards? How about with their left hand?
- Add two activities together Lego and Playdoh, sensory play in the bath in the dark, using practical life skills in real life…
- Tie the activity in with a book you are reading or a film you have watched, it gives the activity new persepctive
With many of the activities in Montessori Inspired, I give tips on how to make the activity more challenging as the child grows older and asking the above question is how I do it. By making tweaks here and there and presenting things a little differently the child learns even more. They learn to challenge themselves and to try pushing the boundaries in different ways. It gives them the confidence to experiment and try something new, to get their creative juices flowing and inspired them to do even bigger and better things.
Observing your child is important too, if something it waaaay too difficult, they will give up easily and won’t want to challenge it again but if they can feel that it is achievable, even if they don’t complete it the first time, they will go back and try again and again until they master it. Repetitive attempts at something often means that they are trying get it right, it is the way that we are programmed to learn after all!
Now for your homework, I want you to think of something your child loves to do but has started to lose interest or get bored of it. What can you do to jazz things up a bit or make it more challenging? Share in the comments below…
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