Montessori Life As We Model It – Modelling behaviour

Today I have been thinking about the behaviour we model for Joshua. We work to a “do as I do” rather than “do as I say, not as I do” approach. We teach him how to do things and how to help himself. What are we teaching him by demonstrating all these practical life skills? Why do I spend so much time preparing the environment that he enjoys at home?

“The child does not just observe his surroundings; he becomes them by age three…. If you want your child to say “thank you” and pleast” you must be using this language constantly in his presence from birth on. Children who are spanked learn to use physical punishment to express themselves, and those who are handled with understanding and patience will become understanding and patient.”
Susan Mayclin Stephenson – The Joyful Child

At 2.5 years old we spend a lot of time on practical life. Cooking is a major part of our practical life lessons. There is something about cooking that I enjoy, even if it is a bit of a chore sometimes. I cook with effort and I enjoy seeing the results of my efforts come together (or not!). For us the journey is not about the destination – it is about the effort and the process. We show Joshua how to cook because I want him to know how to do things for himself. To gain this skill I model this behaviour for him. Sometimes I wish I could short cut meals. Sometimes I wish I could have a meal appear effortlessly but I am not a natural cook. I do what I can with what I have and I don’t have a machine that does it all for me, just my 2 hands and my stove. That’s enough for me. Joshua watches me make dinner, eyes wide. Sometimes he is close to me, standing on his step stool, reaching over and wanting to chop, pour or stir. Sometimes he watches standing next to me on the floor. He watches as I stir the hot pots, or take things out of the hot oven. “Hot, Mama, dangerous, be careful” he says to me. This is what I tell him. Don’t touch the hot stove.

We use a dishwasher. We show Joshua how to stack the dishwasher. Joshua stacks the dishwasher everyday to at the moment. He takes our dirty (and sometimes clean) cutlery and plates and puts them into the dishwasher.

We hand wash our pots and pans. Joshua stands on his stool and helps put the soap into the sink. He uses his brush and washes his little pot or plate or bowl. He does the same.

We put sort our clothes and put them into the washing machine and we hand wash our clothes when needed. Joshua puts his clothes in his laundry basket for washing and puts clothes into the washing machine too, he does the same.

We hang our clothes out to dry and tend not to use the dryer. He helps hang out wet washing on the clothes horse, Joshua does the same.

We sweep up things on the floor and put it in the bin. We vacuum the floor when we need to. We mop the floor because it is dirty. Joshua does the same.

We don’t use store bought chemicals to clean our table top and bench top, we use home made cleaning products so that Joshua is not exposed to harsh chemicals unnecessarily. We use as little conveniences as we can get away with. We recycle. We compost. We use power saver light bulbs to reduce power usage. We have a water tank which we use to collect water to water the garden and flush the toilets with. We try to shop regularly so that we waste as little as possible. We try to know our place in the world.

We talk. We tell Joshua why we are doing what we do. We handle his tantrums as best as we can. We let him feel what he needs to feel. We say sorry when we need to. Sorry for not listening. Sorry that he is angry or frustrated. Sorry for being cross with him or in front of him with other people. We model courtesy, please and thank you. Asking for things, not demanding. We treat each other as we would want to be treated. Joshua is still learning this. He is learning how to say sorry, to be sorry even if he is only sorry for hurting someone else. To know that no matter what happens that we are still here and he is still loved.

What we want Joshua to learn from the behaviour that we model how to do things for himself, whether it be preparing a meal, wiping the table or cleaning up the house. We should perform our tasks to the best of our ability. The best of Joshua’s ability and his personality will be what we have modelled for him, for the experiences we have provided in the environment that he lives in.

We hope that Joshua will do the same.

20140923_Joshua cooking

Today on the 1st anniversary of starting this blog I have taken this opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and how different Joshua is. What a long way we have come in just a year! I hope to share a little of what we have achieved in a year with you shortly.


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