Sometimes we believe that the children are “too small” or “too young” to help us or even to care about themselves. The opposite is the truth. Young children are (more often than not), the best helpers and love looking after their environment, others and themselves. The sooner they start with practicing real-life activities, the faster they master practical life skills.
Try picturing this … It has been a long day, you got home, all you wanted is to have dinner ready on time. Can you involve your child in some of the works you are doing? Can they peel potatoes or carrots? Can they cut some veggies? Can they take dishes from the dishwasher or sweep the floor? Yes, of course, it will take them more time, they might make a mess, but how can they learn how to cut or peel if they are not allowed or invited to do it? Perhaps, they could help set up the table for dinner or help you with shopping.
When we conduct cooking with the children in the class, we take a group of children to do the shopping so they can see the list of items we need for cooking. They help with peeling, cutting, mixing and most importantly, with cleaning up. They are eager to help and get excited about it. It helps them realize that they are part of the community and they can participate (in something bigger than themselves). These are the same things you can practice at home in order to give them the feeling of their importance and independence.
This article is a contribution by Alice Giles, International Montessori School of Prague