She’s a Shoes Girl: A little bit of practical life

Sarah is a shoes girl. She loves them. She will take them on and off, over and over again. I didn’t really think too much of it until my dad mentioned it the other day; ‘did you know Sarah can put her own shoes on all by herself?’

It’s funny who you talk to, different views of children, some people wouldn’t think an 18 month old putting on her shoes was that big of a deal. Sarah’s been doing this for a few months now. I was trying to remember what we did to teach her how to put on her shoes, how we demonstrated it to her, but I couldn’t. It was much like when I noticed her pouring herself a drink for the first time, and I think it comes down to her environment and then plenty of opportunity to practice.

Sarah has access to her shoes in her room. Below her shelf with her clothes for the day is a space on the floor. I used to have her wash basket there but moved it to make space for her shoes. She now has a pair of shoes and her slippers as well as her backpack and hat; everything she needs to get ready for the day. Once she is dressed she puts on her shoes. This is her favourite part of getting dressed.

I finally got a video of Sarah putting on her shoes. She has a unique style which I think is quite sweet.

So with so many things Montessori, I really don’t think I am doing things as they would be presented if my kids were in a Montessori school. But this isn’t a school, this is a home. So when I’m thinking about Practical Life activities, I tend to think less about the activity, what I could put on tray and present, and more about the life, how can I adapt their environment so they have plenty of opportunity to practice these skills naturally. This seems to work best for us.

….now to teach her how to manage that tangled mess of bed hair! Any suggestions?

16 thoughts on “She’s a Shoes Girl: A little bit of practical life

  1. that sounds so much like our home… and I am not doing Montessori as a method, I just find that many of the principles agree with my style of parenting (and that’s why i started reading more on it and get inspiration from Montessori parents for activities etc). I often get comments on how independent my 2 1/2 year old daughter is (going to the toilet all by herself for months now, mostly dressing herself, putting on shoes, all sorts of kitchen activity, cleaning up spills, sweeping the floor, helping with laundry…) and she is because I just let her have access to her things and let her do as much as she wants on her own, helping only if she asks (or if we’re in a real rush). I never ever presented any of this to her in a “Montessori fashion” because up until 4 months ago I didn’t even know there was such a thing… )

    • I often have people comment that they could never ‘do’ Montessori. That it is too complicated, too many specific steps involved in presenting or demonstrating a skill/material. I have a really great book which has very specific instructions on how to demonstrate a skill/material. I know that we don’t follow these to the letter but I find it reassuring to know that being attentive and following the child’s lead/interests and organising their environment so they can succeed in their tasks is often (in our case at least) all that is necessary.

      She is a sweetie, isn’t she? I like that she is testing out different ways to do things (like put on her shoes) so she can find the most effective way, the way that works best for her. I try not to intervene too much, especially when she is concentrating. Often she will find that something doesn’t work, and then will try another way.

    • Absolutely! We just started by having her clothes where she could reach them. Sarah started to become interested in getting her clothes out and then little by little wanted to do more when she was getting dressed. I think we started when she was about 10-11 months old, so it has taken some time but it makes getting dressed a lot easier because she is involved and not trying to fight me. I like to have her standing up or sitting in her chair, as opposed to laying down, so she is an active participant; I’m helping her to get dressed as opposed to me getting her dressed.

      I’d love to hear how you go.

  2. I’m so looking forward to when my 12mo will be putting his shoes on! Right now he is into anything going over his head. I have thought to make a basket of hats. I tried introducing shoes a couple weeks ago but it hasn’t caught on.

  3. This is lovely! And I love how you just encourging her to keep going even if it took a bit of time :). Everyday life is full of great oppurtunities for new skills.

    • I does take a little time. doesn’t it? But she likes doing it so much that I have to make sure she has the time to do it. I was rushed once and tried to put her shoes on for her and she was not happy about it 🙂

  4. Congratulations, Sarah! But I gave to say I think raising independent kids isn’t just about putting things where they can reach them. My son’s clothes and shoes have been accessible his entire life…and while he is capable of many things, including using a real carrot peeler and glue gun, he has absolutely no interest in dressing by himself, could care less what he wears as long as it feels right, and almost always wants help with his shoes. At least at home, and unless he really wants to go somewhere. I think it’s going to come out in the wash…

    • Lovely to hear from you Frances. I think you’re right, it isn’t just about accessibility but I know for certain that in Jack and Sarah’s case, their environment, the way we have set it up to accommodate their changing and growing needs has definitely contributed to their independence. I think it is also about giving them plenty of opportunity to practice these skills. Anything they can do for themselves I want them to be able to do it. Definitely not force them or make the situation in anyway stressful but little by little allow them to do more. So with Jack, when he was learning to put on his socks, we’d put them on for him and then he would pull them up. Gradually he came to expect that he would pull them up after we put them on and then little by little he did more and we did less. Until we got to the stage where he now puts on his own socks.

  5. What a delight to see that so many parents are setting up a wonderful environment for their young (and very able) children. I have been teaching Preschool and Kindergarten Montessori for twenty four years now and just LOVE it when I see these children able to develop their confidence and independence at home as well as school! Congratulations Moms & Dad who are providing a fantastic learning and loving home!

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