"The teacher shows the children how to clean out the little corners where dust has accumulated and shows them how to use the various objects necessary in cleaning a room - dust cloths, dust brushes, little brooms, etc."
—Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method
Let's do some spring cleaning with our children!
In "those good old days, " spring cleaning meant organizing and cleaning the house from top to bottom. These days, we can apply the concept to organizing and preparing the home for our children's next stage of growth.
If you're like most busy parents, it's often easier to do it all by yourself. But, with a bit of preparation, your toddler and preschooler can do more than you ever imagined.
Open shelves help organize playthings, which in turn supports your child's developing sense of order. The toy box is a wonderful storage place for big items such as stuffed animals, pull toys, or big trucks. But little items get lost in the bottom, making it necessary to dump out the box from time to time. You know the routine! Children can help with this reorganization and learn "a place for everything." Start by sorting out the items your child has outgrown - a three-year-old or older child can help with the decisions to store or pass on an outgrown toy.
Children outgrow their clothes with amazing speed. Spring is a good time to empty closets of not only the winter wear but also the outgrown items. Again, let's organize so that children can become more independent and take care of their belongings themselves. Involve your child in this process. For the youngest toddler, that might mean showing him how to hang his bag on a hook, put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket, or fold the outgrown clothes. The older child can tell you which clothes no longer fit and help decide where to put what.
Now the really fun part begins. Children love to help clean, sweep, wash, and polish. With a little preparation, children can do it themselves, freeing you to work alongside them on your own spring cleaning project.
Whatever the activity, it's good to work alongside your children. You are supporting their independence and modeling with your behavior. By showing children how to accomplish one small task at a time, they will eventually have the skills to clean the whole room.
"It is important to notice, in passing, that these are real, not make-believe activities and that they are carried out in a real and not make-believe environment."
—E.M. Standing, Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work
—by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.
—Originally Published 2012