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Help Me Do It Myself

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” -Dr. Maria Montessori

One of the most critical values of Montessori education is the fostering of independence. Our children need our support, but we are tasked with the gradual release of this support. Doing so is a challenge, for no two children are exactly alike and we are required to observe carefully and be flexible in each moment.

Today, we share some books that may help parents in their journey to foster their children’s ever-expanding independence. We hope you (and your children) will enjoy them!

For toilet learning: Potty by Leslie Patricelli

Simple text, colorful, sweet illustrations, and a clear message: everybody has bodily waste, and there is a time to start using the toilet instead of going in a diaper. In this book, the child observes what their pets do, then decides to try and use the potty. After a long time of sitting and waiting, they finally find success! The story ends with a proud baby and parents, and the introduction of many fun pairs of undies.

Another book written for parents is Toilet Awareness: Using Montessori Philosophy to Create a Potty Learning Routine by Sarah Moudry. The foundation of potty learning is respect for the child and their own natural development. Using the Montessori Philosophy, this book explains when to start, how to set-up your bathroom for a successful transition, and includes a step-by-step guide to get started. You will learn how to encourage your child to recognize their body's signals and develop independence in their bathroom routine. Learn the method that Montessori Schools use that keeps toileting stress-free and child-centered.Included in the second edition are tips for choosing training underwear, starting before your child is walking, and starting after your child is three-years-old.

For brushing teeth: Brush, Brush, Brush by Alicia Padron

Ideal for reading to infants and toddlers who are just learning about brushing for the first time, this book covers the basics using few words that get straight to the point. The illustrations are charming and children will appreciate them; we love the diversity represented.

For tying shoes: Red Lace, Yellow Lace by Mike Casey

We love this book in part because it mirrors a classic Montessori material in a way that makes it accessible for the home. Our primary classrooms have dressing frames that teach children how to complete all sorts of clothing fastening techniques. This book, written in a catchy rhyming style, includes actual colored laces for children to practice on.

For cleaning the house: Dust Everywhere by Robert Rosen, illustrated by Chiara Fiorentino

Zoe and Zak attempt to clean the house, but in the beginning, Zak makes more mess than they started with. A frustrated but patient Zoe helps him vacuum, sweep, and mop, and they work together until the house is sparkling.

For doing laundry: Henry Helps with Laundry by Beth Bracken, illustrated by Ailie Busby

Henry lives with his mom, dad, and little sister Penny. They all wear clothes, and those clothes tend to get dirty. One day, Henry’s mom asks him for help with the laundry, he happily agrees. He gets to work sorting, putting the clothes in the washing machine, and rescuing a nearly-forgotten pair of pajamas.

For cooking: Cooking Class by Deanna F. Cook

Ideal for elementary-aged children, this book contains lots of appealing recipes with step-by-step directions and photographs. Winner of the Parent’s Choice Award, this book also teaches children about how to safely use kitchen tools and the importance of cleaning up.

For woodworking: Wonderful Woodworking for Children by Susan Scheibenzuber

Scheibenzuber is a Montessori teacher, so this book was created with Montessori children specifically in mind. She emphasizes the use of real tools, child-appropriate projects, and uses photos to illustrate each step of the process. Can you imagine the pride and self-confidence a child might feel after making their own table and chair?

For caring for pets: Dog Training for Kids by Vanessa Estrada Marin, illustrated by Alisa Harris and Complete Cat Care Manual by Dr. Andrew Edney

Caring for pets is a big responsibility, and many parents have agreed to take one on only to discover themselves doing most of the work several months later. If your child shows genuine interest in getting a cat or a dog (or any other pet for that matter), this wonderful opportunity should be taken seriously, and a book or two can help them learn the basics. While they will still need help, children can do so much in terms of feeding, walking, grooming, training, and cleaning up after their furry friends.

During their younger years, practical life activities consist of tasks like learning to sweep and dress oneself. While we may stop using the term practical life as children age, it never really goes away and just continues to morph into different skills. This book teaches older children everything they need to know about money and finances, from how the concept of money originated to how to make money, save money, invest money, and how credit works.

For learning to drive: The Driving Book: Everything New Drivers Need to Know but Don’t Know to Ask by Karen Gravell, illustrated by Helen Flook

While nothing can replace the hours of practice behind the wheel, having a book or two to learn all the important nuances about being a driver can be helpful, too! This book isn’t so much a how-to drive guide as it is a great reference. It includes information about caring for a car, getting gas, driving in various types of weather, what it means to be driving impaired, and what to do in case of accidents and breakdowns.

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