Friday, August 12, 2011

Simple Moments—Montessori-esque Independence in Dressing

I Can (Almost) Dress Myself
The Montessori Philosophy is something I am inspired by and try to integrate into our home.  Admittedly, a cluttered home, schedule and mind often impede my efforts.  But, not always.  I am still smiling over a Montessori moment I shared with Jack two days ago.

You see, a large part of Montessori as related to the Infant-Toddler crowd is communicating respect for the individual child and allowing a child to participate in daily routines of self care and care of the environment in order to assist the child in the development of independence. 

Yesterday, I experienced an ah-ha milestone moment with Jack that was in line with this philosophy:

On the non-Montessori side, I had just run up the stairs from changing the laundry over.  My intent was to get our breakfast dishes done and then complete Morning Lotto with the kids before Grammy came over so I could head to a doctor’s appointment.  As I went to clear the remaining breakfast dishes from the table, however, I noticed the clothes I had left out for Jack when I had folded and put away laundry earlier in the morning.  So, I grabbed Jack’s shirt and shorts off the table and said, “Time to get dressed Jack."

Jack smiled and crawled closer to me.  I dropped his shorts on the floor and popped the shirt over his head, at which point, I noticed something.  Jack was stretching his little hands inside the shirt in search of its arm holes.  He was trying to help dress himself!  He had probably done this a number of times before, signaling that he is ready to be offered a bit more independence in his self-care skills.  But, I guess I’d never paused long enough while dressing Jack to observe his development. 

Jack was ready to change that!

As soon as his shirt was on, he bent down to the floor, grasped his shorts in his hand and handed them to me with a confident smile.  Then, just I began to scoop him up to plop him into his shorts, I thought, Whoa, Mama. Slow down.  Give this little one the time he needs to do what he can do as he is able to do it.  Allow him to enjoy some independence in this whole dressing process.

I listened to myself, readjusted our position from one where it was easiest for me to quickly pull Jack’s shorts onto him to one where he could better attempt to help in dressing himself.  I then offered Jack his shorts.

Jack offered the shorts back to me.  I got his message; he wasn’t ready to do it all by himself yet.  So, I opened the waistband of his shorts, and, with absolutely no prompting, he lifted his chubby little leg and pointed his toes toward one of the leg holes.  Leg through, he did the same with the other, aiming right for the other leg hole.    Then, he stood against me and I helped him raise the shorts to his waist. 

Jack smiled – proud.

I smiled – pleased.

Still unable to speak, Jack had communicated loud and clear about his desire to help dress himself.  Then, satisfied, he went on to crawl across the room and I grabbed a camera to memorialize his moment of independence:  His cute little bottom – that he helped dress – scooting across the room as he pushed a chair.

Today, as I reflect back on this simple Montessori-esque moment of independence. I am thankful that Jack “spoke” to me and that, at the same time, God whispered a reminder to me that being a mostly at-home mom is about much more than ticking off morning tasks.  In response the “Whoa Mama” thoughts that came to mind as I dressed Jack, I shared simple, yet abundant delight with my youngest child.  He seemed so pleased to not only help dress himself, but to let me know that he wanted to.  And, he has continued to do so during dressing time since.

Jack and my Montessori moment lasted but a few minutes of my day, but the pleasure of it is still reverberates in my heart. 

What small moment of joy have you shared with your child lately?  Has pausing to “listen” to your child led to any discoveries?  Has slowing down and observing your child provoked any ah-ha’s?

This post is being shared at The Finer Things in Life, where Amy encourages readers to "encourage each other to pursue and cherish the simple, ordinary-extraordinary things that make life worth living."  Taking time to observe and listen to your child is certainly one of those things in my opinion!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really good reminder to slow down my morning routine, Martianne! From time to time, Alyssa makes attempts and shows an interest in dressing herself and I let her try. She doesn't get very far, but I need to be more consistent and frequent about encouraging her to try.
I can't believe how big Jack has gotten! Unreal!


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