“Help me to do it myself” is a well-known Montessori expression referring to a core component of the philosophy, encouraging and nurturing independence.
In the Young Children’s Community (YCC), independence can be as simple as hanging belongings on a hook in the coatroom or a more complex project such as baking bread for a snack the next day. These small lessons in independence scaffold bigger moments of independence. Big or small, these moments are integral in the formation of the child's inner voice, and their confidence in their day-to-day rhythm.
An easy way to encourage independence is by involving the child in daily life tasks, toddlers love to be included in what most adults find to be the mundane part of their days. Tasks such as wiping the table after a meal or washing dishes. Another way to nurture a toddler's need for independence is through self-care activities, such as having an area designated for them to easily brush their hair, wipe their nose, or dress. They want to do things for themselves and making these activities easily accessible shows your respect and trust in the child's abilities. This trust will strengthen the scaffolding process.
To build independence the child needs time, space, and accessibility. When support is needed the littlest bit of help can encourage but not hinder their self-confidence. We as the teacher sit on our hands and wait for an invite from the child which may just be a simple verbal breakdown of the steps on how to remove or how to latch a shoe. ‘First, pinch and pull the velcro, then push down.” simple concise words. Go slow, and move your body purposefully when demonstrating a skill.
Following the child, providing trust, patience, and encouragement will build the child's guide to lifelong independence and self-confidence.