Why do small kids need to learn life skills?
Recently, I posted an article on a social media site that I had written on how to set up a dishwashing station for a child. While, most of the feedback I received was positive, some responses were along the lines of, “Kids have the rest of their childhoods to learn how to wash dishes.“, and “Let them just be little.” It occurred to me that the aims of Montessori Practical Life activities are not clear to many people. There is solid reasoning behind Practical Life activities being an integral part of Montessori and other preschool programs.
What life skills can I teach my toddler?
Practical Life activities are activities such as pouring water from a pitcher to a glass, washing dishes, self-care, hanging clothes on the line using clothes pins, setting the dinner table, ect. They are just normal everyday activities that many parents perform themselves, without thinking to invite their child’s participation.
The benefits of Practical Life activities
Let’s take a closer look at hanging clothes out on a clothesline to dry. At first thought, it seems pointless to show a preschool aged child how to perform this task. I mean, why not just do it yourself or throw the clothes in the dryer?
Here is a list of the benefits of this particular activity:
Helping your child hold a pencil
1) Increased finger strength that will help with future handwriting.
2) The child practices their pincer grasp. (Again, a great pre-handwriting activity.)
3) Increased hand dexterity.
4) The child is using both large and small muscle movements, which helps their coordination.
Increase your child’s attention span
5) The activity is engrossing and time consuming, which helps the development of concentration and attention span.
6) There is something to be learned from the activity: science (How the sun and wind help dry the clothes), math (How many clothes pins do you need if you use 2 per wash cloth and you have 3 wash clothes to hang up?), Ect.
7) It builds self-confidence.
8) It encourages independence.
9) It encourages care of their clothes and care of the environment.
10) It teaches a child an important life skill.
11) It helps develop a sense of order. (By following the steps.)
12) It advances social skills. (From performing the activity with you, then from showing others, friends and siblings, how to hang clothes.)
Now, think about washing dishes as a Practical Life activity and try to come up with a list of benefits similar to the one above…pretty neat, huh?
Should kids have chores?
I hate that word, “chores”, but for the sake of taking this conversation mainstream, we can use that horrid word. The fact is, research shows that children who participate in “chores” are more intelligent and successful in adulthood. While many might attribute this to children learning hard work and responsibility, I would argue that the list above gives a better, more thorough explanation of why children who participate in “chores” are more successful, more intelligent adults.
What are your thoughts on this? It is definitely something to think about!