By Annika Voynow, Assistant Head of Inly School
“I do it!”
If you have had toddlers in your home you have surely heard this indignant cry come from the child as you attempt to help him or her with an everyday task. In the video clip below, Inly toddlers work on putting on their coats to go outdoors to play. All the required winter clothes are not an easy task for a little one, and in the Montessori classroom learning how to prepare for the outdoors is an important part of the practical life curriculum.
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The “Montessori Coat Flip” can be seen in Toddler and throughout the hallways of Children’s House. While most young children cannot put on their coats the traditional way without assistance, the coat flip makes it possible for them to do it by themselves. Teachers, or older children, model the method and children have many opportunities to practice. The children lay their coats on the floor and stand with their toes by the tag or the hood of their coat. They can then slide their arms into the sleeves, stand up, and flip the coat over their head. With a little help starting the zipper, the children close their coats and move on to hats and mittens.
“Help me to do it alone.”
—Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Montessori, through her observations of children, observed a set of similar tendencies and behaviors that she believed were found in all humans. These tendencies serve as a natural drive to help children adapt, grown and learn in the society and time into which they are born. Among these tendencies are a desire for independence, a need to concentrate on and repeat activities, and a drive to work toward mastery. These tendencies are part of humans during all stages of our lives, with some stronger during certain developmental periods. The classrooms at Inly are designed to work with the children’s natural tendencies. For toddlers, this means providing opportunities and lessons to help the children towards the independence they are so driven towards.
Inly toddlers, provided with an environment in which their desire to practice, grow, and learn is honored, flourish in amazing ways. Their ability to do for themselves astounds us, as does the concentration, hard work, joy, and desire to help others that we see in our Toddler classroom every day.