Skip to main content

Practical Life with Babies -- Montessori Baby Week 45

I have talked about the importance of practical life with toddlers many times. Practical life work -- and I do mean truly practical work -- is the foundation of using Montessori at home. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen, in cleaning, in self-care, in the real and meaningful work that is taking place in your home is exactly the type of "activity" your child naturally craves. But, this desire and the ability doesn't just magically appear one day. It slowly builds over time. 

Practical life with babies can start at birth, here are some ways that Montessori babies can become involved in practical experiences

Gus is in this phase right now. The more he is able to move and explore, the more I see him watching, attempting, and participating in practical experiences. His mind unconsciously absorbs everything around him, so by being in our family, he sees, experiences, and learns how to participate. We just have to give him the opportunity to practice and show us what he knows! Now that he is really moving a ton, is the moment to give him that time!
"The child's conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his 'natural development.' In other words, if we observe natural development with sufficient care, we can see that it can be defined as the gaining of successive levels of independence." Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind 
A baby's first practical experiences start at birth, right? Gus has been involved in self-care tasks since he was born. As we talked him through diaper changes, dressings, and baths. Now that his experiences are broader, we talk him through those as well. We talk as we do laundry, or wash dishes, or eat dinner. And, each one of these experiences helps to bring him closer to full participation in practical tasks. Now as an older baby, Augustus really is at the point of starting to become physically involved in practical life tasks at home! 


So what practical tasks can an older baby actually do? Here are some ideas:

  • Put laundry into a hamper {like these pictures}
  • Use a comb 
  • Use a rag after meals to "wipe" hands and table 
  • Grab a diaper 
  • Pick an outfit choice from a limited selection 
  • Eat independently 
  • Use a rag during bath time 
  • Explore a hand broom
  • Put a dish on a low shelf 
  • Throw away garbage 
  • Explore a tissue while wiping their nose 



I'm sure there are tons of other practical life experiences that older babies can start to participate in. It is a matter of looking at what experiences are relevant to your home life and breaking them down into simple steps and giving your baby the opportunity. Now, I don't mean to imply that it will be done perfectly, or that this is in any way required. This is meant to be fun exploration, of course it's not always going to look and feel the same way that it will if you undertake the task. It's going to be messy sometimes, it's going to be incomplete sometimes, there will be times when your child has no interest. And, that's all ok! 

This day, Gus started and stopped putting his sleeper in the laundry several times, before finally abandoning it. He explored the task and I just gave him the space to do so. And when he was done, I simply helped finish the process! But, giving him this time helps him know he is capable, respected, and oh so valued in our home! 


Does your baby participate in practical life? How have you made it work? 


Practical life with babies can start at birth, here are some ways that Montessori babies can become involved in practical experiences


---

Comments

Unknown said…
But my 10 months old still puts everything in her mouth...

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2019

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2019 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 


So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 


First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Working from Home with Kids - A Montessori Schedule

One part of my life that I haven't talked a ton about here on The Kavanaugh Report is how I'm a work-from-home parent. Eight years ago I started to work at home while parenting full time. For the first several years, I worked as a legal writer while maintaining this space on the side. When Gus was born, I moved into working on sharing our Montessori life full time. It has blossomed into a full time career sharing content here, teaching courses, and now the podcast! Through it all, my kids have been home with me. 
This all seems more relevant to so many of us now that Covid-19 has closed schools and forced parents to stay at home and work while caring for children. I'm not going to lie - it's tough. It's hard to balance work and kids, especially when children are used to a completely different routine. But, it's not impossible! And, it can even be enjoyable. 

As I talk about in my podcast Shelf Help, we block our days into 3 hours groups. It helps me remain fle…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…