Teach me to do it myself

It seems that one of the earliest phrases my daughter learnt was "I do it!"….(given that her first word was 'no' and her second word was 'mine', this assertive streak shouldn't have been a big surprise! ). Any of us that parent or work with toddlers know that "I can do it myself" is a common refrain in the early years.

This early play for independence only strengthens over time, as children have an inherent desire to do things for themselves. So often, a toddler's frustration is over their own lack of skills, or unwanted adult intervention.

"Teach me to do it myself" is a key Montessori principle. Children learn best through active, hands-on exploration, and here at Kumeu Montessori Preschool, they are encouraged to be as independent as possible. They choose the activities they are interested in doing, creating high engagement and wonderfully child-led learning opportunities.

Our practical life area is full of activities that encourage a child to 'do it themselves'. As children learn to use scissors, spoons, tongs and tweezers, to pour liquid, undo buttons and master zips, prepare a snack or tie their own shoelaces, independance takes root and flourishes, as part of an ongoing, organic process. Errors are embraced – things can (and do) get broken, water is spilt, food lands on the floor. This is a natural part of learning, and viewed as such. The freedom to choose is promoted on the understanding that there are responsibilities too – to handle things gently, clean up a mess, and to leave things tidy for another child to use, creating social awareness and initiative.

A child who is free to develop their skills through exploration gains a great sense of accomplishment and self worth. The more they can do for themselves, the more confident they feel. We love this quote from psychologist Madeline Levine "Self-esteem doesn't contribute much to success. But success contributes mightily to self-esteem". With growing independence comes growing self esteem – we're all for it!


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