I'll keep it short on this one, but I invite you all to give us suggestions--especially all the teachers out there. A reader asked this about the handwashing lesson, and this is such a good question, I had to get into it. I want to give the handwashing lesson, but my child just wants to play in the water and touch everything! What do I do?
One of the challenges of a home environment, is that it is more than a carefully constructed children's environment, it is YOUR environment. Everyone in your house has to live there, and chances are, everyone in your house will not, at all times, conduct himself or herself in the manner of an astute Montessori teacher. This will, of course, have implications for your child's interaction with household materials.
Raise your hand if this has yet to become apparent to you. That's pretty much what I suspected.
This is hard, especially at home, because our ambitions for our children's independence often have more complex motivations than their schoolteacher's would. Montessori teachers invite the children to discover new and wonderful things they can do on their own. WE want them to be able to do things for themselves that will otherwise have to be done for them. Their teacher has the luxury of inviting them to explore a world that is all their own, where WE are inviting them to explore OUR world--a world made by us, for us, and into which we have brought them. It's not wrong, it's just different, and I think you have to respect that difference, and understand that it is going to alter your ability to be your own child's Montessori teacher. So, in short, adjust your expectations for Montessori lessons at home. Teach your child to do the things you do at home, in the way you do them at home. Unless you are homeschooling, leave the academic lessons at school, and create enrichments in your home environment. The magic of Montessori school is, in part, that everything there is just for the child. If it is at home, it is also for Mommy/Daddy/Brother/Sister, and so a little of the glitter falls away, see? But on to handwashing, which I think can and should be done at home, along with much of the practical life curriculum.
I don't know if this will help or not, but I think that if the child just wants to touch everything instead of observing the lesson, the lesson is being given at the wrong time. Handwashing is complicated. If the child wants to play with water but can't make it all the way through handwashing, I think you should try a simpler water lesson. Transferring with a sponge is a favorite of mine for manipulating water. Be sure you set it up on a rugged surface, and on a towel. The eyedropper lesson is a nice one, the work is detailed, and the instructions are short.
if you don't know the eyedropper lesson, it is this:
tiny pitcher or vessel for water (maybe the jar the pipette came in?)
rubber soap holder (you know, the one with the little suction-cup thingies on it?)
small eyedropper or pipette.
on top of the tray goes the placemat. arranged from left to right are:
water is drawn from water source into the vessel and is returned to the table (it should be a really tiny, transparent vessel. you do not need a lot of water for this. The water is drawn from the vessel into the pipette, and transferred, drop-by-drop, onto the little cups of the soap holder. When all of the cups are filled, the water is removed from them with the sponge. The child repeats this until he is satisfied, then the work is put away.
anybody who would be willing to post a picture of this from your album? Please do!
Remember, handwashing is complicated. It's a big lesson. If you are doing handwashing, pick a time when your child is really ready. Otherwise, help her wash her hands according to the procedure, and don't try to give the lesson. It'll just frustrate you both. Start smaller.