Thank You Maria Montessori

It’s genius, really.  I should’ve known that toddlers are like border collies—without a task they are aimless and grumpy.  Last night I picked up Toddler Harbat from school and learned that she hadn’t taken a nap.  Uh oh.  This usually means she has an acute case of the floppy limbs, an aversion to any kind of direction, a short fuse attached to a big bomb, and a tendency toward hitting and biting.  I managed to get her motivated by the promise of making her own pizza.  I did this once before with good results, though it was pretty messy.

Aha Watson!  It turns out that direction and task were just the things to keep her happy and under control.  I made sure she was able to do everything I did, from putting on her apron to sprinkling flour on the dough.  I gave her specific tasks and didn’t try to take over.  As with the face painting, her attention to detail and motor skills were impressive.  Very little flour was scattered on the ground, and she got to taste straight olive oil (didn’t care for it).  When the pizza was ready to go in the oven she was, well, see for yourself.

Toddler Harbat makes pizza

Here’s the wonderful part about this:  she’s ready for chores!  Whether it’s wiping up her mat or spreading olive oil on dough, she loves being given a grown-up task and the freedom to do it herself.  Maria Montessori figured this out a century ago, and I’m just getting around to it now.  Montessori schools put emphasis on self-learning and tasks.  My sister went to one as a toddler and I could never figure out why the teachers always had the kids washing their chairs.  Daily.  Now I understand it isn’t the result of the task, it’s the process.

I figure I’d better take advantage of this while I can, until she wises up and starts asking for an allowance.  Now if I can put together one of those head-mounted drink trays like R2D2 had on Jabba’s sail barge…

Writer, architect, father, husband.

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8 comments on “Thank You Maria Montessori
  1. Samanthropos says:

    Maybe that’s why I don’t want to do chores anymore! I see you switched from the Montessori = commie camp to the I love Montessori school side.
    I just liked being able to wear slippers to school. PS TH looks a little hyphe in that picture…

  2. Anonymous says:

    But think about how clean those chairs were in school…and all around the house-ha-ha. Are you sure there wasn’t a little extra sugar in that pizza dough??

  3. Wendy says:

    I love their catalog. It’s great too that you guys are starting her young and with chores and whatnot as fun, not punishment. It drives me a little nuts to see our 8 & 11 year old nephews having to be shepherded through everything, including getting their own milk or cleaning the catbox and demanding their dollars for every chore the whole time they’re doing the simplest task.

  4. Wendy says:

    I love their catalog. It’s great too that you guys are starting her young and with chores and whatnot as fun, not punishment. It drives me a little nuts to see our 8 & 11 year old nephews having to be shepherded through everything, including getting their own milk or cleaning the catbox and demanding their dollars for every chore the whole time they’re doing the simplest task. I tell myself I’ll be able to banish my inner control freak and if we have a kid that won’t happen to us, but we’ll see.

  5. Wendy says:

    Oops, sorry about the dupes, I decided to finish my thought…

  6. Po says:

    That looks a lot like the crazy face she was making today after not having taken a nap. It never fails to crack me up.

  7. Samanthropos says:

    Does anyone else think BH looks like Kathryn Heigel? I will find a picture…

  8. Kim B says:

    I like how you said it is about the process not the task. It is like life, it is not about the end result but the process of living!

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