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Encourage Independence with These Six Items from our Library

Last week, the Kaleidoscope Learning blog featured a post written by Laura Fritz, M.Ed., which describes how to encourage independence for children three and under. As a Montessori organization, we really strive to show to families the importance of encouraging young children to explore their independence. You can read Laura's full blog post, "Supporting Independence for Children Under Three."

It can seem like a really daunting prospect to encourage independence for young children. To continue inspiring parents to promote independence with their little ones, we wanted to highlight some useful tools (toys and furniture pieces) families can borrow from our library inventory that encourage independence, self-care, and self-sufficiency.

Toddler Tower

Sprout Sous Chef Toddler Tower

A great place to have children start exploring independence is in the kitchen. Children often want to help with cooking or cleaning, and giving them small tasks in the kitchen can really go a long way to establishing and promoting independence. The obvious inhibitor of having young children help in the kitchen is bringing them to counter level (safely).

Enter: the Toddler Tower. Our library has three toddler towers from two different brands (you can watch a short video describing the differences). These towers allow children to safety stand at counter height to do various activities. These towers are some of our favorite pieces in our library!

Our two toddler towers are the Sprout Sous Chef Toddler Tower and the Piccalio Foldable Toddler Tower.

Wooden Weather Station

Everyday it seems like it is an uphill battle to get a child to understand the weather and dress accordingly. And whether (pun intended) we like it or not, we cannot control the weather. This can seem particularly aggravating to a child who wants to control their activities that are sometimes weather dependent (i.e. playing inside vs. playing outside, jacket vs. no jacket).

A great independence building activity is the Wooden Weather Station. Together, a caring adult and the child can go through the weather together and fix the weather station to match the weather report. While manipulating the weather station to match the day's weather, an adult can say things like, "so what kind of activities can we do when the weather is like X? What kinds of clothes should we wear to prepare us for outside time today?" Children can make independent choices, including what they are going to wear and what activities they want to play, when they understand the weather.

View the Wooden Weather Station in our inventory!

Routine Helper

A newly added item to our library is a Routine Helper by Second Scout. The Routine Helper is a movable/customizable display where a child and adult can place tiles showing the order of the child's day (we also have an "Agenda Helper," which is similar to a Routine Helper, but it encompasses a week).

Routine Help with Magnetic Tiles

How does the Routine Helper help with independence building? When children can anticipate their daily activities and routine, they start to independently conquer their tasks (like getting dressed, washing hands, and picking a book for story time). The Routine Helper takes the guessing game out of the picture, and when children know what their day is going to look like, they can anticipate and independently execute on their activities.

View the Routine Helper and the Little Agenda Weekly Helper in our inventory!

Dish Washing Station and Sensory Table

Wouldn't it be nice to have the kids do the dishes for a change?

But in all seriousness, our inventory includes a Dish Washing Station and Sensory Table by Sprout Kids. Made from wood, it includes two stainless steel bowls that are perfect for holding water. Families can encourage dish or toy washing using the stainless steel bowls (one can be for soapy water/washing, and one can be for clean water/rinsing). A similar technique can be used to wash hands as well.

How does dish washing help promote independence? Clean up after eating or playing can be a hard concept to remember. Children can start taking charge of cleaning up after themselves after having a snack or beverage by washing their hands/dirty dishes in a "sink" that is their own size and doesn't require a faucet.

View the Dish Washing Station and Sensory Table in our inventory.

Wooden Magnetic Calendar

Wooden Magnetic Calendar by Moon Picnic

Time is an interesting concept when you are a child. Sometimes it can be hard to conceptualize when exactly something is happening. The Wooden Magnetic Calendar by Moon Picnic is a customizable calendar, with movable wooden tiles, that can be used month after month. There are special tiles as well that can be placed on specific days, such as a gift or a smiley face (which can be a birthday or a special planned day).

Children can conceptualize their upcoming plans by adjusting the calendar to reflect the current month. An adult can chat with a young learner when helping them manipulate the calendar by asking questions like, "How many days until your friend's birthday party?" and "Saturday is in three days. What would you like to do on that day?" Children can be part of the planning and decision making process when they have tools that help them understand the world around them.

View the Wooden Magnetic Calendar in our inventory.

Weaning Table & Chair

In a Montessori classroom, you will see furniture pieces that are designed for the size of the child. Why is this important? Because children can start creating independent habits when furniture and tools are designed for the size for their bodies. The Sprout Weaning Table and Chair is a small furniture set that can accommodate growing children. It promotes good sitting habits by allowing children to rest their feet on the floor and access anything placed on the top of the table. We love this set for snack time or arts and crafts.

In her blog post, Laura cites having child size tables and chairs as a good way to encourage independence for young children (see "Implement These Practical Suggestions" section). We have two sets of these Weaning Tables in our inventory; you can check a table out with either one or two chairs.

View the Weaning Table & Chair in our online inventory.

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