Havvie is like any other child who loves to play, but she also likes to pack away her toys when she’s done with them. We’ve been working together on this since we started Montessori more than a year ago. Below are some tips on how we do this, and with just like anything in Montessori it involves the parent as much as the child.
- Everything in our play area has a dedicated spot – All of Havvie’s toys are placed in a specific, consistent spot in her play area. This includes her musical instruments, books, shelf work and art station. I am consistent with where things go down to exactly which cube in the cube shelf that particular item gets placed. This really appeals to Havvie’s sense of order and sets her up for success because she’s seen the item go into that particular spot numerous times so knows that’s where she needs to put it too.
- Modelling putting back her toys – this is probably the most important. I have been modelling putting away the toys for a long time. When I’m involved, it’s much more fun to pack away.
- Managing my expectations – I can ask Havvie to put her toys away but I cannot expect her too. She’s still very young and if she’s not interested I model it for her.
- Offering choices – sometimes I’ll give her a choice of whether she wants to pack away or if she wants my help. Either way the toys get packed away and she gets to do it on her own terms.
- Using a mat to define her work area – we have a mat laid out in the middle of the room which we use whenever we play. This mat allows Havvie to play freely but still defines a boundary so her toys do not end up everywhere. I’ve consistently reinforced the use of the mat so she takes all of her toys on there.
- Singing a song – We had a pack up song for a while which was a fun way to do the clean up.
- Natural consequences – we do still have toys that end up on the floor every now and again although it’s rare. I do not use any rewards or punishments with Havvie (I don’t believe in them nor are they Montessori aligned) but there are natural consequences for certain actions that end up being a teaching moment. There was one time Havvie slipped on one of her toys on the floor. This was a natural way for her to learn what happens if there are unattended toys out on the floor and she’s been careful about putting them back ever since.