Q: I struggle to get my child ready for school in the morning. He/she refuses to get dressed when it is time to go to school…Help?
Before the beginning of the school year, sit down with your child and discuss what things need to be done to get ready for school in the morning. Have the child participate in the creation of a simple chart (with pictures) that shows the steps involved (i.e. put pajamas in the laundry, toilet, dress, brush hair, eat breakfast etc.) Talk about what time the car will have to leave in order to get to school on time in the morning, and what time he or she will need to wake up to get things done. Then you can set the alarm clock together for that time. If clothes are laid out the night before, most of the obstacles to getting ready are avoided.
The child knows what is expected of him or her and has time to mentally prepare for the new routine. Power struggles can be avoided by simply pointing out the steps in the chart. If the child chooses not to be ready on time, simply place his or her clothes in a bag and bring the child to school in his or her pajamas. If your child understands that the car leaves at the same time every day, he or she will take on the responsibility for being ready on time. This should be done in a calm, no-nonsense manner. The idea is that the child takes responsibility for his or her own actions.
Q: How can I support my young child’s progress in the classroom?
1 – The child should independently participate in the home through age-appropriate chores and doing as much for him or herself as he or she is capable of doing. Simple things like ensuring your child has a low shelf for a small water jug and snacks in the fridge, low hooks on which to hang coats/towels etc., and stepping stools in the bathroom enable him or her to accomplish more for him or herself and to feel independent and capable. Independent children are more confident, more willing to seek out the solutions to problems and are better learners.
2 – Read with and to your chld. Set aside time daily to joyfully read books of interest to your child. Actively engage your child in the story and enjoy making “the voices” of the characters. If your child sees that you enjoy reading and that you and the important people in his or her life read regularly, he or she will learn to love reading also. Even after your child begins to read, it is important to continue to reading to him or her for several years thereafter.
3 – Dramatically eliminate or reduce your child’s exposure to passive activities like television, computer and video games. Activities that support a child’s ability to imagine, create and entertain him or herself are so important for the development of a young child’s brain. As with many things in life, the Montessori classroom is best experienced when the child is able to curiously and actively seek out new lessons and information from his environment. Pastimes like working with clay, building with Lincoln Logs/Legos, playing simple board games, putting together puzzles, making forts, drawing etc. are much better alternatives. A child who overcomes his or her own feelings of “boredom” is better able to create, imagine and learn. Consider the example you set for your child also.
4 – Ensure that you have a routine set up so that the child can get to bed early enough to be adequately rested for the next day at school. A good night’s sleep is crucial to your child having a succesful day at school.