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Tip of the Day – Developing Independence in Your Young Child

Every week or two, we will bring a tip for catering to your child’s desire for independence through a Montessori lens. These ideas are not just “Montessori ideas,” however; as Maria Montessori herself said, “this is the child’s method, not the Montessori method.” These ideas are based on what the child himself reveals to us about himself if we only choose to see.

The tip for this week in improving your child’s independence is to contemplate how tasks you think are too dangerous can be adapted for him or her. Questions to consider include “why do I think this activity is too dangerous,” “what skills have I learned that make this task not dangerous for me that my child could learn,” “is there a sub-step of this task that isn’t or is less dangerous that I would be comfortable with my child working on,” and “would equipment sized for his hands make this task safe(er)?” As you contemplate these questions, please watch this brief video:

Physical safety is of course important, but another danger that us adults must see as equally important is safety of the mind from starvation. Mental starvation comes from children being told that the activities that most interest them are off limits because the activities are “too dangerous,” “too hard,” or the child is incapable or “too young.” As Montessori said, “The greatest danger lies in our ignorance. We know how to find pearls in the shells of oysters, gold in the mountains, and coal in the bowels of the earth, but we are unaware of the spiritual germs, the creative nebulae that the child hides in himself when he enters our world to renew mankind.” Let us find these gems together by thinking of “dangerous” tasks that our children could do, even in a small way, so that we do not interfere with the vital processes of their development.

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