5 Ways to Help Your Young Child Succeed at Home

One of the most inspiring aspects of the Montessori community in which I work is the overt dedication the parents have to their children. It is obvious that each one of the children at our school is loved deeply. Not only do I see parents that love their children, I see parents that are devoted to laying a foundation for a secure future for their children. Because of this devotion, many parents ask about how they should work with their children at home to help them develop the critical skills they need in life. The good news for you is that working with your children at home is easy, most of the time.

Reading is good…chapter books are better.

Of course, reading to them should be a top priority. When you read to them turn off your electronics and focus on it fully. This teaches them the importance of books and shows them that you value literature. When they are under eighteen months, do not anticipate actually getting through full books. At this stage it is more important that they become oriented to the nature of books by learning how to use them and understand them. Slowly move from books with one or two words per page to increasingly more complex picture books. By the time your child is three or four years old, I encourage you to take a stab at reading chapter books aloud. At our house we started with The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl. They were a hit with our just-over-three daughter. She is now seven and voraciously devours chapter books for hours on end. I encourage you to give it a try too!

Develop a family relationship with food.

The best thing you can do is to include your child in the daily activities that go on around your house. If you are doing gardening, make sure that you have child sized tools and some seeds available for your children. For the last three years we have given our daughter one of our thirteen garden beds for her to grow whatever she wants however she wants. She consistently grows better vegetables than us. In the kitchen she has helped me chop and prepare the things we grow since she was two. We do it every day in Montessori toddler and primary classrooms. If your child attends a Montessori school, chances are that he has already been planting seeds and chopping vegetables.

Dr. Montessori in the garden with children.

Dr. Montessori in the garden with children.

Be makers and doers together.

My husband is a woodworker with a shop at our house. In it she has a workbench with a complete set of hand tools and safety equipment. She has made some beautiful objects under the loving guidance of her father in that shop and she has made some incredible memories with her dad as well. Woodworking is an activity that is encouraged in the Montessori curriculum. If you have a hobby that involves using your hands in any way that isn’t typing, bring your child along to learn with you as soon as you think he or she is ready. Even good old-fashioned housework will do! The beautiful moments you will share will be priceless and the confidence your child will develop makes the potential frustrations that arise totally worth it.

Let your child take the lead.

Be sure that you are taking time to participate in activities (that don’t involve a screen) that your child enjoys. Build with blocks, dress up dolls, have a dance party, color, do whatever it is that your child wants to do at least once a day. You will learn so much about your children if you let them lead. They are pretty clever individuals!

Be quiet and walk away.

Finally, I advise you to also give them a lot of time to just be alone. It is okay to give your child “quiet time” in their room. The earlier you start this practice, the less resistance you will get. You can also just practice the art of being in the other room when your child is engaged in an activity. It is important for them to have time alone to explore and process the world in an environment that is safe for them. We love our children so much and we find them to be so interesting that it is hard for us to not comment, coach, or get involved when our children are exploring. They need us to give them space just as much as they need us to play with them and comfort them.
Wait a minute? Did I just say “finally” without addressing the importance of writing practice and flash cards? Why, yes I did! These two activities, or any other adult-directed academic activities, are not necessary unless your child is independently choosing them without influence from you. Requiring these types of lessons is a good way to cause your child to resist either you or resist his teacher at school when she attempts academic lessons. This may manifest is fits, hiding, excessive silliness, or attempts to remain unseen while engaged in less academic work such as unit blocks and painting. Academics are best left in the classroom. It is like forcing your child to bring the office home with her.
Your young child works hard all day. In primary and elementary, they are working hard on developing academic skills and abilities that are necessary for success. They do math, geography, reading, writing, and science lessons all day long. At home the best thing you can do for them is offer them loving security and show them that you value learning and the pursuit of broad interests. The best learning happens when we are experiencing something interesting with people we love. Allow the world to be your child’s classroom instead of the dining room table. Your family will be stronger and happier for it.

“What we need is a world full of miracles, like the miracle of seeing the young child seeking work and independence, and manifesting a wealth of enthusiasm and love.” –Maria Montessori

~ by vegucationmama on March 8, 2014.

One Response to “5 Ways to Help Your Young Child Succeed at Home”

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