#5 – Teach Your Child Care for Self and the Home

More than a spectator. When a child can care for themselves they are developing confidence and independence. Give your child lots of time to practice self-care skills, putting on socks, shoes and getting dressed. Demonstrate or model how to do the tasks. The self care rituals that you hold in your family is one that even the youngest child can participate in. Gathering items for the bath, wiping his nose and putting on his shoes and socks begin to prepare him for life. He begins to be a participant in his own life rather than be a mere spectator.

Getting the Job Done

Caring for the environment is an important contribution for the home community and at school we see how much the children love to be a part of these activities. They want to do real work with their hands. They want to do their part and know that they have done the job well.

Toddler and preschool years are the years when most children WANT to learn to help with tasks around the home. Montessori observed this and developed Practical Life activities for the classroom. By teaching children at the exact time they are ready and eager to learn, we can often avoid “the I-don’t-want-to-response” when we wait until they are older and no longer interested. Mostly, we need to set expectations when our children are very young.

“All the activities connected with looking after yourself and your surroundings, such as getting dressed, preparing food, laying the table, wiping the floor, clearing dishes, doing the dusting, etc., are activities belonging to what Dr. Montessori called ‘Practical Life,’ and are precisely the tasks that adults like least. But between the ages of one and four years, children love these jobs and are delighted to be called on to participate in them.”


—Dr. Silvana Montanaro, MD, and Montessori Teacher Trainer

The best way to go about teaching household responsibilities is to break it down into a sequence your children can follow, and accept the results as being less than the “perfect” job we might do. It certainly does take extra time to teach your child these tasks at this young age. However,  if you teach them during this window of opportunity when they are interested, you will be surprised at all that your child/young adult can be capable of and instill a level of independence and responsibility that is sadly diminishing. Putting the extra time in on the front end will save you LOTS of time (re)teaching or cleaning up after them when they are older.

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It’s a Time when Your Child is actually Interested in This

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A Worthwhile Investment of Your Time

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Click the Drop-down lists of Child Self- and Home-Care Responsibilities:

Download the full list as a PDF.