Montessori, personal and environmental care activities for children

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It is very important to teach children the various personal and environmental care activities, with a view to broadening their knowledge of personal hygiene. In this difficult historical period due to the spread of Covid19, during which it is important to wash your hands frequently, this acquires a greater value. 

About this we interviewed Martina Cartasegna, educator, pedagogist, specialized, through the Montessori National Opera, on the Montessori approach of the age groups 0-3 and 3-6 and on the Gordon method linked to music. She has been working for 4 years in a parental education home for children in the province of Pavia. We asked her to suggest some of the fundamental activities for personal and environmental care, in the Montessori style. 

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Personal and environmental care, because it is important

«The" washing phase "belongs to the sphere of personal care e to all those practical life activities represented by the daily chores that are part of our life: among them washing hands, face, teeth up to showering alone. They are practically activities that allow us to take care of ourselves. In fact, at the children's home, from the very beginning we teachers try to work a lot on this type of activity to make the children autonomous and independent from the first days of school », explains Martina. 

«This kind of exercises are preferred by children from the age of two, who are intrigued by seeing the personal care actions done by adults. According to the Montessori approach, each child arrives at the stages in her own way and according to her development, but, indicatively, the starting age for this kind of activity is two / two and a half years. 

The perfect environment for these activities must always be prepared in advance, so it must be beautiful, curious, interesting, with real and child-friendly objects. The materials must be simple. Inside the "children's home" where I work we have created, for example, the "Wash corner", in which there are three basic washes: hand washing, doll washing, clothes washing. Thus begins a path to help children acquire autonomy and independence. This space is set up for children, with all the essential elements that allow the little ones to carry out the various activities.

The indirect purposes of these activities are: fine motor skills (small hand movements to clean, for example, nails, hands), coordination with the environment, knowledge of anatomy (especially through washing the doll). According to the Montessori approach, then, a simple but scientific language. We use the word scientific for each part of the body, without giving "nicknames".

When the child becomes independent, he will feel satisfied with himself. Improving attention and concentration will also be the goals of these activities, as well as personality development, which will be stronger, more independent, autonomous. In fact, Maria Montessori defines the exercises of practical life and personal care as a real gymnastics, whose gym is the environment itself. Finally, the activities are always carried out from left to right, to underline the progress of the writing and thus offer a fundamental prerequisite ».

Read also: Children, Montessori games to do with the voice

Children, personal and environmental care activities

  1. PERSON CARE CORNER. "Create a corner for the little ones, where they can take care of themselves and, in particular, get to the sink to wash their hands or brush their teeth (perhaps hanging an envelope with a toothbrush and toothpaste at their height, placing a towel and a small hairdryer).
  2. ACTIVITY OF BLOWING THE NOSE. Create an ad hoc space, where you put handkerchiefs in a basket and a mirror. Through the grasp of the three fingers (thumb, index, middle), the baby will position the handkerchief on the nose and blow. This activity is useful for helping children learn to blow their noses.
  3. INTIMATE HYGIENE ACTIVITIES. Give the baby a towel or wipes and teach him how to clean his bottom by himself. At 5/6 years, the little ones will know, when they go to primary school, to take care of their privacy.
  4. FACIAL WASHING ACTIVITIES. Prepare a bowl with soap and show the child how to wash your face, with simple and slow movements. So in the morning he will know how to wash himself.
  5. COMB WITH THE BRUSH. Create a corner with a comb and a brush, small rubber bands, a mirror: here the child can take care of himself before going out. 
  6. HANGING CLOTHES. Create a space where your little one can take care of their clothes by hanging them on a hanger.
  7. In the area of ​​environmental care, the WASHING OF GAMES. A space can be created in which to insert two containers and a jug. Have the child pour the water into a container: in this the little one puts the toys and cleans them with soap and a sponge. Instead, in the other container the child places the washed and dried toys with a rag. In general, it is important to create moments (such as washing toys, shoes, clothes, etc.), which can help the child to take care of himself.
  8. Finally, to face this difficult period related to Covid19, there is a fun way to help the little ones wash their hands more often. Get yourself a small one HOURGLASS and have them wash their hands for the running time of the hourglass (usually one minute). You can also use one SONG one minute. All this can help the child to deal with hand washing in a more playful and more serene way. 
  9. Even the so-called TEMPORAL STRIPS they are useful: represent, with drawings or photographs, on a card the various stages of the activities of washing hands or brushing teeth. Through visual interaction the child is able to feel more confident in dealing with the various activities ». 

Montessori: 20 activities to do in the kitchen with children

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Cooking is one of the practical activities considered by the pedagogist Maria Montessori to be very important for the development of the child. Cut a fruit, prepare a juice, wash ...

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