My eldest son attending a Montessori preschool when we lived in the inner city. There were many things that I loved about the Montessori approach and I learnt a great deal from the preschool Montessori teacher.
My other children to date have now attended a play based pre school which I am very happy with. I have however continued with teaching my children “practical life” activities at home which I learnt from Montessori.
“Practical life activities give the child an understanding of his environment and how it works……….This work builds the child’s self-esteem, making him feel of value. In addition, practical life activities also develop manual dexterity.”
Montessori World Educational Institute
I like to introduce these activities to my preschoolers for the reasons outlined above and also primarily because they really enjoy them and it helps increase their independence.
One of the first activities that I attempt with my children is juicing an orange. This can be started with children as young as 18 months.
1 Small juicer
1 Orange halved
1 Small glass
What To Do:
A great tip that I also learnt from my son’s Montessori teacher is that you can bombard a child with too much information when trying to teach them a new skill. She recommended that it is best to give a display of the activity first without words, allowing the child to take in the actual hand movements required. Too much talk can distract them from observing how the task is done.
- In slow movements show the orange and point out the middle to the child.
- Then place the orange on to the juicer, emphasing with your movements that the middle of the orange, matches up to the middle of the juicer.
- Making slow and strong wrist movements, begin to squeeze the orange.
- Point to the juice appearing under neath the juicer.
- Continue to squeeze the orange until it is finished.
- Show the completed orange to the child, so they can see how it should look at the end.
- End the demonstration, by slowly pouring the orange juice into a glass.
- Then encourage the child to repeat these steps themselves.
- It requires strength to squeeze an orange, so it may take them some time to work through this step. We need to give them time to work this out and not take over the activity
- Children will not always perfect this skill the first time, so we can help them build up the skill, by allowing them to practice regularly.
- Finish the activity by having the child clean up . This could be as simple as placing the dishes in the dishwasher and the oranges in the compost or you can have them hand wash all the materials used.
Not only does this activity teach the child how to make themselves an orange juice, but it also increases strength and manipulation in the wrist, which will help the child when they begin writing.