What we think of as “chores” Maria Montessori thought of as daily life or practical life skills. The benefits of children helping out around the house has been well researched and documented; it teaches responsibility, independence and importantly, represents a model of team work and cooperation, as family members work together.

Chores at St Andrew's Montessori

Children love to help. Sometimes, their help isn’t entirely helpful but the value in encouraging children to participate in daily life is critical. The earlier you start, the better but the key to getting it right is the provision of age-appropriate chores. Here are some examples of things that early years children can do at home:

18 months to 3 years

  • Help to make a bed – pull up duvet cover
  • Choose clothes
  • Get dressed (with some help)
  • Put on coat
  • Put away toys
  • Brush teeth
  • Wash body
  • Brush teeth
  • Peel and slice banana
  • Wash fruit and veg
  • Set the table
  • Sweep the floor
  • Load/unload washing machine
  • Sort clothing
  • Unpack groceries
  • Dust
  • Wipe up small messes
  • Watering plants

3 to 4 years

All of the above plus…

  • Assist with cooking and baking (cracking eggs, helping to measure and mix ingredients, peeling carrots etc.)
  • Fold and pack clothing into drawers
  • Dress without help
  • Use the toilet (close seat and flush, wipe – with assistance)
  • Wash hair
  • Place wet clothing in laundry basket
  • Fold laundry
  • Feed pets
  • Vacuuming

There is something else that Maria Montessori believed was critical in the learning of practical life skills; providing the right tools. Montessori’s child-sized equipment was ground-breaking in that it allowed children to do the same type of work they saw their parents doing at home. It’s quite difficult for children to help if they cannot use and manipulate the tools they need to do so.

For children to participate successfully in daily life in your home, they are going to need your help – to start them off, at least. This is a great opportunity for you to spend quality time with your little ones, whilst creating good habits that will last a lifetime. Acknowledge their progress and appreciate their contributions, and allow your children to enjoy the process of the chore itself.

Sources: VoilaMontessori.com, Themontessorinotebook.com

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash