The terrible twos as they are called dawns in! But you need not fear of this transitional change for your child, it can be handled, there are strategies that may help this period be a smooth transition. This can be done by giving children choices to avoid power struggles and giving them opportunity to do the tasks suggested and allowing them to accomplish things independently.
Montessori Environment 2 - 3 years
At this stage children need to be given more independence as they grow up. This can be shown in the environment. How one arranges it such that the child can independently accomplish things for himself. This then gives him/her the sense of accomplishment and in turn develops a high self-esteem.
The key is to set up the environment in which he can succeed to be able to do things by himself safely. For young child things may have to be set up step by step, which may be slow and tedious for adults but is indispensable for a child who is learning.
The child at this age can have their own bed. If it is too high and you are scared they may fall, a mattress can still be put on the floor for if when the child falls, but you may notice that when this happens once the child will learn from that experience.
Toys can each be separated by its type in a basket that will contain all of its parts. Allow your child to be able to see what they are choosing to play with without really making a mess. Children at this age need external order to be able to develop their own sense of internal order. Have his toys in a low shelf where they can access it easily if they choose to. At this stage teach your child to put things away when they are finished. This also lets them contribute to the order in their environment. Make cleaning up a habit as early as now as these are good habits to be maintained for life.
Have a small drawer for your child’s clothes. This will allow them to choose what they want to wear for the day as they may start to show their preference. Give your child limited choices so they will still dress appropriately for the weather. For example give them a choice between a red or blue jumper for winter. If they are unable to choose then simply choose for them.
By now there should be a bedtime routine to include bathroom time. This is the time they may sit on the potty, wash their hands and brush their teeth. For the child to have access to the sink and potty, have a small light weight stool that the child can stand on. Have this lightweight so they can move it around to where they need it.
Place their toothbrush and toothpaste in such a way that they can access it themselves. Have a child sized toothbrush and toothpaste placed in order of sequence of use in a tray. From left to right have the toothbrush then the toothpaste and a cup placed neatly on a tray for the child to use.
For bath time, have a small bottle of shampoo and soap for the child to be able to use for himself. Children enjoy pouring/squeezing soap out of a bottle and seeing bubbles made. Put a small amount of shampoo or soap in the bottles such that there will be no waste if they decide to pour it all out. When the child is in the bath have a small bag/net that hangs over the bath for their toys to dry. This bag will also be good in teaching your child to put away his toys by himself. Have a towel rack that is low enough for your child to put their towel for their use. See Tooth brushing Activity.
In this area one can have one small shelf for his toys that he/she may use when with the family. One can also have a child sized wooden table and chair for the child to be able to use for his work/play. They can use large sizes crayons or other mediums for craft also accessible to the child. One can decide to have painting available but this might be best for the outdoor as the mess may be harder to clean for indoors.
You can also provide a small rug or mat for the child to work on instead of the table. This then contains their work to a certain area.
At this stage the child can eat the food that the family has. The child may also have meals with the family so that he/she can also observe the proper social aspect of eating meals. Your child can be placed in a high chair together with the family near the table to have a sense of belonging. If possible have the child using the same table as the family is. Remove the table that secludes him and have him pushed up on the family table.
The child can also choose to eat in his own table and chair. A child can have his own access to a low drawer in the kitchen which can contain his own utensils and plate. The utensils and plate need not be plastic and can be real lightweight crockery. The glass can also be real. If the child is taught how to care for things properly, handle things with care, they may surprise you. If the child chooses to eat at his low table there should be no fear for glasses to break as it a short distance to the ground. This can also teach the child how to take care of their own plates and glass and spoons and forks.
A placemat with drawings of the plate, spoon, fork and glass can be drawn on it as a guide for table setting. See Pouring a drink activity.
Montessori ‘Toys’ and Materials
Books are always a must for any stage of the child’s development. Choose books that may have one or two sentences that are describing the scene on the page. Books with long stories may not hold their attention for very long. Choose books that are relevant to their everyday life. Their interest will be held if it is something that relates to them and they see every day. This can include topics about their daily routine.
As always choose books that are realistic and have the whole picture or image. This will teach the child of how things really are. Montessori says fantasy can be introduced to children after 3 years old.
Montessori observed that children wanted to help in the upkeep of their own environment. She then developed practical life activities. This can be activities that adults do every day that children see and may want to imitate. It can be as simple as sweeping, mopping and dusting, or as complex as washing dishes, or clothes. For the home one can have a child sized broom and dustpan and mop. Children like to clean up. As soon as they may see a mess, direct them to where you may logically keep the mop and show them how one does it properly, if they do not already know from watching the adult. When showing children a particular activity always exaggerate your actions so they will not miss details of performing that simple task that we as adults may take for granted. Ask your child to help with the smallest tasks as putting the clothes in the wash, wiping up their own table after themselves, putting dishes in the dishwasher, mopping, sweeping, and dressing themselves.
Care for self
These are activities such as dressing oneself, by being given the chance to try to put on their own clothes, and shoes. This can be practicing with Velcro, zips and buttons that are found in their own clothes.
When showing your child how to wash their hands, prepare the materials. Make sure the sink is accessible to them and soap and towel nearby. Hopefully the taps are easy to turn on for the child without any adult help. Show them to only turn on the taps slightly, not too much water to avoid wasting water. This is also a small lesson in care for the environment. Take some soap and make sure to emphasize the bubbles that are made. Rub your hands slowly and in between each finger, the palm and the back of the hand for a thorough clean. Point out the bubbles made. Rinse your hands also with great emphasis making sure all the bubbles are gone. And dry your hands making sure every part of the hand is dried, in between the fingers.
Care for the environment
As mentioned earlier, have child sized brooms, mops cloths (for wiping the table) and sponges to allow the child to clean like they adults do.
A small watering can that the child can carry himself can also be used. Teach the child where they can get water for themselves and to walk very carefully when carrying the watering can so as not to spill water. You can have a small sponge that goes on the tip of the spout to prevent this from happening with younger children. The plants to be watered can be potted indoor plants or in the backyard garden.
This is the most fun and relevant for most children. Food is always interesting for children and preparing what they will eat might even make them eat more since it makes them part of the process and enjoy the meal much more. These activities can be done on the child sized table or on the kitchen bench and having a stool for the child to stand on.
This can be as simple as teaching the child to butter their own toast, washing fruits, cut up fruit and even peel vegetables. These activities need to be prepared so that it will be successful for the child to accomplish and safe for them as well. Food contraptions that make things easier, like apple peelers, avocado/ apple slicers are the best way to involve your child in food preparation as it makes things easy enough for children.
Spreading jam/butter on toast or crackers
Have a small plate, small knife and small container that the jam will be placed in. Place a bit of jam that will be enough for one piece of toast or cracker on the small container. This will ensure that there will be no waste of food if the child decides to use all that is available. Always show the child slowly how to spread it on the jam emphasizing small details such as taking a little bit of spread, and making sure the whole of the toast is covered. See Food preparation activities.
This will involve a small cutting board, a small butter knife, small food tongs and a small bowl. Depending on the abilities of your toddler, ask them to peel to banana by making a small cut already for them and asking them to simply pull down on the peel. As the peel is completely off, ask the child to discard it properly. Take the banana and lay it on the cutting board. Slowly take the knife and cut the banana in bite size pieces. Emphasize on the cutting motion or pushing the knife down. Give your child a turn. If they do not cut the banana in the right size due to the difficulty for them, it is normal. They will get more adept later on as they practice more. After all of the banana is cut, take the tongs and put each banana piece to the small bowl from where it can be eaten.
As the children get older and slicing has become an easy activity for them, children can also slice with a small sharp knife cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and other soft vegetables.
This involves using an apple slicer that can be found in shops. We need a cutting board, a sharp knife for the adult, tongs and a small bowl. Take the apple and cut it in half horizontally, this will make the apple be on the board for the child laid on a stable flat side. Lay the apple on the flat side and take the apple corer on the apple, push the corer a little bit to show your child how to push down. Start it for them and let them continue. You may help by placing your hands over theirs. Once it is cut all the way through, use the tongs to take the core out to be thrown and the rest of the apple in the bowl.
Language explosion often happens at around the age of 2. This is when children almost miraculously starts to talk in sentences and has increased their vocabulary by tenfold. One should then support this by teaching the child more vocabulary and becoming a good language model. The child will start parroting words that you will say, so be careful with what you say and how you say it. The child also does not need to have baby talk and changing to a high pitched voice when you talk to your child is unnecessary. Talk to them like you would to another person. Speak to them clearly so they can absorb what you are saying to them.
When children at this age misarticulate some words, do not correct them. This may make the child fearful of trying new words but instead model it. Say it again after them when you reply. This will let them know of their mistake without being shamed.
Talk to children about things in complete sentences. Try to explain why things are so they will understand. The best language model they can have is the adult.
Click for Montessori 3 period lesson