Isn’t every toddler a very active toddler? Yes, all toddlers are very active, and in the same breath, I find that my son is particularly active. It is rare that he will become absorbed in the use of a toy, even a really cool Montessori toy, for much longer than a few minutes. It could be that I’m a Montessori teacher and I have wacky expectations for my child to want to sit and use blocks for ten minutes all by himself, but in observing other toddlers, I can see a difference. I find that M is looking for something other than individualized Montessori works at the moment. He is looking for involvement in household chores, using WATER, outdoor exploration and lots and lots of movement.
So, if you find that your toddler, like mine, is just not very interested in sitting and doing blocks or arranging small cars and trains, have no fear. Paula Polk Lillard is here to save the day. Paula Polk Lillard is the author of the book Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home from Birth to Age Three. I was recently re-reading her chapter on practical life and I felt very relieved by what she had written.
She quotes Montessori in reference to children who are newly able to walk, “At this age just toys, especially light toys, do not satisfy the child. He can do nothing with them.” Tell me more Paula. Parents can include children in “setting and clearing the table, unloading groceries, preparing food, baking, pouring water and juice, wiping the table, washing dishes, sorting and folding laundry, putting away clothes, dusting, sweeping and mopping, washing a mirror or window, polishing a shoe, picking up a room, emptying wastepaper baskets, watering plants and arranging flowers” (Paula Polk Lillard).
I love this list of ideas because these are things that I usually have to do during the day anyway. I used to think I had to do those things while M was occupied with a toy or playing with his dad. Now I realize that I can just include him. Does it take longer to do things? Yes, but I feel joyful in seeing M’s excitement and effort. Lillard reminds us in her book that the toddler will not wipe up a spill to actually dry it, he will wipe up a spill to imitate you and to enjoy the process of wiping.
I have placed a new shelf in our kitchen that holds a small broom, a spray bottle for spraying the pathos plant (it has survived with no water, with way too much and without sunlight) and for spraying tables and a basic pouring work on the silver tray. I recently added some small towels to the bottom for wiping up spills and for wiping the tables.
What are your toddler’s favorite things to do around the house? I’m looking for more ideas!