Practical Life Activities & Your Little One

Practical Life Activities & Your Little One

Some of the most meaningful activities your little one can do aren't activities at all!
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You may have noticed that we have a "Home" page in our Essentials section. As you browse the items in this section, you'll find descriptions with more information about how to utilize each item in your home. 

In line with Montessori principles, we believe that children truly want to contribute to household tasks from a young age. This not only promotes independence, but it also gives them a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and belonging. 

Adapting to the practical life mindset

This can be tricky, especially if in situations where time is not on your side. Allowing your child to help with daily tasks does take time and lots of patience. Can you scoop the dog food in 10 seconds but it takes your toddler 2 minutes? Can you wipe up a spilled cup of water in 3 seconds but your little one takes 1 minute and they end up spread it even further all over the table or floor? Yep, we get it. 

It takes lots of deep breaths, and keeping in mind the goal. If your child isn't given the opportunity to practice regularly and get better at completing the task, when will they ever get the chance? Regular practice from a young age, with tools adapted to their size, will make these daily tasks enjoyable for them and innate in their daily functioning. 

Eventually, your child will be able to independently sweep up their crumbs, or put their dishes in the dishwasher, or scoop the dog's food. They just need a parent willing to let them try, learn, celebrate their success and continue to model the behavior for them.

Practical Life Tools & Activity Ideas

Here's the thing about letting your little one help out-- you'll figure out what tools they can adapt to using and what they can't.

We carry a Table Brush Set, because it is perfect for little hands to learn how to sweep things up into a pan. As they get older, they'll be able to use the Dust Pan Set that adults use, but it will take time. Use the table brush set to sweep up crumbs from the table or even use it as an activity and practice sweeping up cereal or dried beans or pasta.

If you have wet spills, we love the idea of the "spill tray." This idea comes directly from Montessori schools where children know that if they have a wet spill to clean up, they can get the spill tray and bring it to the spill with them. On this tray is a sponge and a dish towel for them to use to soak up the liquid and return it to the sink to squeeze out. It's important to note that to encourage independent clean up, this tray should be stored in a location accessible to the child-- this could be a low cabinet or a low shelf in a pantry or unlocked closet. We love our Small Tray for this concept!

Has your little one tried to help sweep or mop the floor yet with the adult-sized broom or mop? If it's way too difficult, mini brooms are easy to come by and, if you're like us and have a Swiffer, you can actually take the middle portion of the handle out and transform it into a child-size mop. If your floors don't actually need mopped, just use an old rag, dish towel or washcloth on the bottom of it and turn them loose.

Vacuuming is another favorite activity. Your big vacuum may be way too much to operate for a little one (seriously, as an adult I can hardly push it sometimes), but they can help you by using the hose attachment to vacuum crumbs out of the sofa or if you have a small handheld vacuum, send them on a mission to vacuum anything they find!

We carry a Dish Brush with a round knob that makes it easy for children to grasp (sponges can be too big for little hands-- if you use one, cut it in half for your little one). Want to really kill time? Set up a dishwashing station for your little one. If you have a toddler tower, set your little one up directly at the sink with a Dish Brush and little bowl of dish soap for them to dip it into and let them wash away. Washing our Bamboo Tableware & Utensils is the perfect, safe, alternative to washing heavy plates and bowls. If your little one is too small to stand at the sink to do this, grab a shallow storage tub and fill with warm, soapy water and a dish brush and let them work there. 

The options are endless-- you can adapt almost any household task for your little one to participate in. You'll be absolutely blown away by what your children are capable of with a little determination and practice, and your heart will swell a bit when you see how proud they feel when they complete a task.