Thursday, 14 November 2013

Practical Life Skills For Toddlers

My son, JS, is a very active person who could hardly take a rest when he is awake. Keeping him busy is a major task so one of the things I often do online is to search for activity ideas suitable for his age. I came across the Montessori way of teaching where it emphasizes a lot on practical life skills. Since JS has been the only child for 3 years and 3 months (before the arrival of his sister this September), it is not easy to come up with activities for him to do on his own. Most of the time I have to keep him company to prevent him from wandering around the house and behaving mischievously. So, I came up with a plan to include him in my daily chores. Anyway, I would be killing two birds with one stone - I get to finish my chores, and JS gets to learn practical life skills. This includes taking him into the kitchen with me while I prepare food for lunch and dinner. 

The first thing that attracted him into the kitchen were onions that I placed on a shelf about his height. He would follow me into the kitchen and started to peel the onions for as long as I cook. A few days later he got tired of just peeling the onions and began to explore the utensils within his reach. He got himself a pan and a wooden ladle and started to stir fry the onions. 
JS cutting tomatoes for his Tomato Sauce Pasta

Not long after that, he was 'cooking' his own dishes and would proudly present them to me. Well, his ingredients would usually be bits and pieces of left over vegetables and fruits that I use to prepare our meals of the day such as pumpkin skin and the tough part of asparagus. However, I allowed him to use vegetables that I could wash again and cook for our meals such as dried Chinese mushroom (shiitake mushroom), diced carrots and bell peppers. After 'cooking' he would carefully arrange them in a bowl or a cup which he finds from the shelf before serving the dishes to me. Sometimes, I would find him eating the vegetables instead of 'cooking' them. Once, he used a stalk of leek as his microphone and started singing! I could only say that having a toddler in the kitchen is fun. Of course I have to make sure that he stays away from the hot stove. 

To date, he has tried out many jobs in the kitchen including washing the vegetables (of course I have to do them again before cooking), cutting tomatoes (to be blended, so it doesn't matter if he did not do a good job), peeling onions, cooking rice and making barley drink. 

JS helping out with the laundry.
No doubt cooking is one of the important practical life skills that one should learn in order to be independent. Other practical life skills that JS has learnt so far includes washing his own cup, vacuuming the floor, keeping his own clothes in the wardrobe and operating the washing machine. These activities does not only keep him busy but also instill in him a sense of responsibility. 

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