Here’s the second post.
So today we’re going to finish up the major areas of our house that we may need to set up for our children. I’m still working on this, so don’t think it’s something that has to happen instantly. I know money is tight all around. I spend a decent amount of my weekends thrift shopping. If I happen to find something that will work for any of the categories, I try to get it if I have the money (and sometimes even if I really shouldn’t, provided the price is right.)
So to pick up where we left off, we had just finished talking about how to modify our children’s bedrooms. Not too hard, a mattress on the floor, furniture their size (which by the way you can find cheaper patters for such things made out of pvc online including chairs) http://www.instructables.com/id/Pvc-Kids-Chair/ and artwork at their level. Simple enough right?
So lets move on to the living room.
The living room, in my opinion, should be a room for the whole family. I’ve never gotten parents that ban their kids to the playroom instead of letting them bring some toys to the living room, but to each their own. Either way, if that is one of the focal points of your home, we need to figure out how to make it more accessible to our children.
The fairly obvious first step, and one that most parents have probably already done, is to childproof and remove any dangerous elements that might have been there before baby came along. You may already have a small bin of toys in there for your child that can easily be hidden in an end table or small cubbards somewhere in the corner. Right now, our living room has Freya’s walker wagon filled with a few favorite toys.
But what else can we do?
Well, we can make sure they have a place to sit, wheter that be a pvc chair or a nice big comfy pillow on the floor. We can also make sure they have that hidden spot for a few toys (not ones with tons of pieces if you want to keep the room fairly clean for company though). We also may want to make sure that our coffee table sits at our child’s level. That way the child can feel like they have a place in the living room.
A big part of this concept will be encouraging or helping your child to organize toys and teaching them to put things away before grabbing something else. You can even make a game of this, seeing who can clean up their messes the quickest….mommy cleaning up the living room after guests, or the little one with her toys. You can even let her win sometimes J.
You may still want to keep electronics out of reach until you can teach the child to be respectful and listen to mommy and daddy. As the child gets older you can start them off with a little cassette or cd player of their own and slowly teach them how to take care of it and say it’s a learning step towards learning to use the adult’s music center. IT gives the child a goal, something I know worked well with me as a child. A similar idea is taken with breakables. When your child is old enough to understand let them touch fragile items with your supervision and explain that you don’t touch them often yourself. It’s all about helping the child understand the function of an item, other wise, they are going to be more curious and try to touch those easily broken items.
This is another area where you can let your child help you clean up so that they learn practical life skills. When I was young, my parents had a duster that was about my size and I helped my grandmother dust the stuff that was hard for her to get near the ground, while she got the things that I couldn’t reach. While I really hate cleaning, some of my fondest memories are of her letting me help her clean something. I’m sure I was in the way, but now I appreciate that she let me help, even if she had to redo part of it…and I learned from ti.
You can also teach children to clean up their own spills in the same way instead of getting cross with them. This was yet another life lesson my grandmother tried to teach me. She maybe started when I was six, but the concept is still the same, we let our children do what they are able to help with, which is easy if you use green household cleaners (ah yet another post I haven’t gotten to yet.)
The kitchen is another place where families or at least mom spends a lot of her time, and thus, our children end up spending time in there vying for our attention while we do things. Now, what if I told you that as your child gets older there were things they could help you do? Things you wouldn’t necessarily think that they could do?
Well its true, I have seen families where a two year old cuts veggies with a child safe knife or where they cut bannanas with a banaslicer. I have seen three year olds who can, with supervision, help make their own sandwhiches. More impressive yet, I have seen five year olds who help with dinner and think its fun.
Now most of this section is going to apply to 3-5 year olds, but I have seen some yonger children do at least some basic stuff to help mommy in the kitchen. Better yet, all of these are learning experiences. For example, while your child helps with dishes, even if its just handing them to you, you can talk about full, empty, too much, too little, big and small. Even discussion like this makes for educational experiences.
But regardless, lets dig in.
First of all, in the kitchen we can let our children help us load things in the dishwasher (if you have one) Freya already loves the dishwasher so I’m going to start working on this in the coming months. I hope to use something she enjoys as a way to help teach her sorting.
Washing dishes just takes either a step stool or a water table. The step stool can be used to help them reach the sink if tall enough, or you can use the water table to let them help you rinse off dishes. This works particularly well if your kitchen has one of those patio doors….our doesn’t but I still like the idea. And water tables are great for a number of other activities down the line as well.
We plan on putting a small table at her hight in the middle of the kitchen at some point. It would be an added bonus if it had a storage space where we could put dishes we commonly use so that we can help her learn how to set the table as she gets older. This would also eventually become a workspace for when I start teaching her cooking basics with that safe knife I mentioned earlier.
I plan on having her help me cook little dishes out of a cook book for toddlers by the time she’s two. She already loves the kitchen and already wants to be involved in everything that happens in that room. This is also a great way to eventually start teaching measurement, addition and subtraction. And once again, as always, make sure you’ve demonstrated the step of the task before letting a child try it, we want to set them up to succeed.
So the book has the laundry room combined into this section. And they talk about letting your child help you sort clothes or if they’re Freya’s age or a bit older, even letting them help you put them in the dryer. We air dry most things right now due to electrical issues, but I plan on implementing this once we have that problem fixed. This is also a good time to work on sorting whether it be light vs dark colors or pulling jeans out of the pile. It’s all a learning experience for them.
By age two we can even have our children helping us clean up by wiping down the table, sweeping (with a child sized broom) and other such things. They want to do everything we do, so let’s teach them how so they can help mommy and daddy.
I have two more sections to cover next week, but hopefully it will only take one post. Enjoy your weekend and if you’re just starting Montessori, I hope something I’ve posted here helps you along your way.