My children are more capable than I give them credit for.
Allowing children to do things for themselves is integral to the traditional Montessori methodology. At a very young age Montessori students participate in practical life exercises that enable them to do various things for themselves. This includes what we might consider mundane tasks like getting dressed (buttons, snaps, zippers), cleaning up (washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, laundry), baking, and *gasp* cutting with a knife. This is done for various reasons. Read more about it here.
Our daughter made banana bread yesterday. She had been watching older children do it. She knew not to touch the materials or the oven because she had not yet had a lesson, but she was very interested. The spark in her was ignited. First she was given a lesson by her teacher. Then she partnered with an older student (5 years old) to watch and assist. After a few weeks she is nearly ready to do it all by herself. She is four.
At home she is delighted to help prepare meals and fold laundry. She can dress herself, brush her teeth, comb her hair, and toast her own waffles. She sweeps the floor, and cleans up her own messes. She is showing her younger brother how these things are done. Without the discovery of Montessori, we would still be “protecting” our kids from things that they are clearly capable of doing.
It just goes to show you – if you believe in them and show them the proper way, they can do it for themselves.