Today we are sharing some practical ways to make your home accessible to young children. Dr. Maria Montessori observed that children thrive when they are free to do things for themselves; they gain independence and coordination, and they are free to concentrate and hone their sense of order (which later facilitates academic skills such as writing and reading).
The adult can prepare the home environment for the child so that the child has more access to what s/he needs for independence. Follow your child when implementing these ideas: where does your child seek independence? Take what works for you and the children in your care and leave the rest. Also, be aware that young children working towards independence will spill water, make messes, and leave clothes and jackets lying on the floor, etc… so it helps to have a friendly attitude towards spills and messes. Show the child how to hang his/her coat, get a cup of water, where to store her shoes… and then expect that it will take time (and repetition) for your child perfect his/her abilities.
The inspiration for this list comes from multiple sources: Montessori teachers, parents, and friends; books; blogs; Instagram accounts… Also, this list is by no means comprehensive (nor is it intended as advertising for specific brands or products). Just some practical tools to help adults create a home that supports the young child who wants to “do it myself.”
- Low hooks for child to hang coat, backpack, scarf, hats
- Basket or other container for mittens/hats/gloves
- Place for shoes (if shoes are removed upon entering home)
- See blog entry #4 for ideas about storing children’s clothes
- Store the child’s cups, bowls, plates, eating utensils, napkins in lower cabinets or drawers
- A sturdy, slip resistant stool for the child to stand on, could also use a learning tower (sometimes called a “kitchen helper”)
- Pitcher or spouted water dispenser so child can access water to drink (the adult can limit the amount of water available if spills are frequent and also have some clean-up towels stored where child can access)
- Healthy snacks stored in lower compartments of frig and/or pantry, bowl of fruit on table
- Sturdy, slip resistant stool to access sink and toilet
- Hang a low bar or hook for the child’s towel to dry hands after washing, can also include bath towel and washcloth
- Store loose diapers/pull ups/training underwear in basket or low cabinet
- Kleenexes/face wipes where child can access
- Hang a mirror above sink that is low enough for child to see her/himself for face washing, hair combing/brushing, tooth brushing, nose blowing
Other item items to consider:
- Toys and books stored in containers and/or on shelving that child can access for play and clean-up
- Art supplies (and clean up materials)
- Cleaning materials: towels, dust cloths, small broom and dustpan, mop or swiffer, window/mirror cleaning kit: small spray bottle of non-toxic window cleaner and towel for drying
- Care of pets and plants: pet food stored in container that child can access, watering can that is small enough for a child to carry
This list is simply a starting point… Follow your child and his/her needs. Take what works, leave the rest. Also, please let us know if you have questions or need more information/discussion around the process of making your home more accessible for the children in your care.