Menu

Montessori at home: 10 helpful chores your child can do all by herself

These tasks are called “practical life”—they’re just as important as language and math for young children.

Montessori at home: 10 helpful chores your child can do all by herself

In Montessori schools, children are responsible for taking care of the classroom. They are not generally assigned chores, but each child cleans up after himself and children are eager to help with things like dusting, gardening, and washing the tables and chairs.


These tasks are called “practical life” and they are considered just as important as language and math for young children. This kind of work builds concentration and independence, and also refines fine and gross motor skills.

Taking care of the environment also gives children a sense of purpose, which can be hugely beneficial to a child’s self-esteem and his behavior. Contributing in a real way makes him feel like a helpful person and he often acts accordingly.

FEATURED VIDEO

Practical life activities are easy to replicate at home, as there is never a shortage of home tasks that need doing (if you have a shortage, send them to my house!) Next time your child is running around with excess energy or acting a little wild, try getting him involved around the house. Give him purposeful work to use up all of that beautiful energy.

Here are 10 chores your young child can be successful with all by herself.

1.Sweeping

Sweeping is a great one to start with. Even young toddlers can successfully sweep the floor with a child sized broom and dustpan if you show them how. If your child isn’t yet coordinated enough for the dustpan, sweeping leaves off of a deck or porch can be a great place to start. Once he has mastered sweeping, you can also show him how to mop or vacuum.

2. Folding laundry

While some things, like sheets and big blankets, can be tricky for children, separating and folding things like washcloths and napkins is definitely doable. Sorting socks can also be a great task for little ones.

3. Setting the table

As long as everything is in their reach, even very young children can set the table. If you’d like to encourage your child to help in the kitchen, try clearing a low kitchen shelf for the things she needs to access. She will enjoy the task more if she doesn’t have to keep asking for your help.

4. Feeding pets

Many children love taking care of animals. If you have a pet, try storing the food in a large Tupperware with a scoop and let your child take over this daily task. If you have a really young child, you may want to separate out only enough food for that day until he’s able to control the amount.

5. Raking leaves

This is a great gross motor activity to get all of that energy out. Just make sure you have a child-sized rake available so that your child can be successful (and safe!).

6. Watering plants

Show your child how to test the dirt to see if a plant needs watering. Then show her how to water at the roots. Once she’s mastered watering the plants, you can also show her how to trim dead leaves and how to wash the leaves of house plants with a little sponge to keep them fresh.

7. Window washing

This is a really fun one! You’ll need a drying cloth, small spray bottle, and small squeegee (the ones designed for car windows are perfect and can be found at stores like Home Depot). Show him how to spray, squeegee, and dry and watch him clean every window and mirror in the house!

8. Scrubbing outside toys

Encourage your child to keep his outdoor toys clean and beautiful by washing them regularly. You’ll need a little scrub brush, container for water, and a towel to dry. You can also provide soap if you wish. You may want to give your child a little apron to keep his clothes dry. The beauty of this one is once he knows how to scrub, and has the tools, he can scrub pretty much anything. This could include big things like a swing set, or little things like his Legos.

9. Making her lunch

Children can make their own lunches, with varying degrees of independence, from a young age. You will likely want to start with offering choices, such as letting your child choose one “main food,” one fruit and one vegetable to put in her lunchbox. Your child can also make simple things like a peanut butter sandwich, help wash fruit, etc.

This is an especially great thing to involve your child with if she’s going through a picky stage. If it’s too overwhelming to think of doing this every day, start with just the weekends or once a week until your child is more proficient with it.

10. Sharpening pencils and crayons

Try showing your child how to use a little sharpener to keep his pencils and crayons in working order. Make sure to show him how to empty the sharpener too, to avoid a big mess.

These chores are only the beginning. Watching your child will show you which types of tasks she’s most interested in helping with and you’ll start seeing all sorts of things she can do on her own. Helping with these responsibilities will encourage her to become more independent and will give her a sense of pride as she sees all of the ways she can contribute to the home.

Tips for Success

Get organized

Especially with a young child, even if she is interested in helping, she may lose interest in the time it takes you to gather the things you need. Gather everything she’ll need to complete the task before you mention it to her. For example, if you’re asking her to help sweep, make sure the broom and dustpan are where they should be before you ask her. It’s also important to have child-sized tools, like small brooms, whenever possible.

Invite the child

In Montessori, we “invite” children to have a lesson. The goal is to entice them to want to participate. If your child feels like he’s being forced to help or it’s a punishment, he will naturally resist. You also don’t have to make it a choice though. Try saying something like, “Johnny, there’s a big mess and I need a helper. Please bring the broom.”

Give a lesson

Briefly show your child how to do the task. With young children, it’s best to do this without talking, as they can have trouble watching and listening at the same time. We call this the “silent lesson”.

Step back and watch

After you’ve shown her how, try to resist the urge to correct how she’s doing it or quickly redo what she’s done. It will likely not be perfect at first, and that’s okay. The important thing is that your child is helping (and eventually, her help will actually be helpful ).

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money