In school, children are encouraged to think about their friends by returning activities where they found them, for example placing books back on the bookshelf or making sure that the used cotton buds from the polishing tray need to be replaced, again this helps to be duplicated at home. Another example of such a routine is painting and washing the easel afterwards. As most children enjoy painting and using water, this routine offers the directress a perfect opportunity to introduce the whole cycle of activity starting with deciding to paint and finishing by leaving a clean easel and washing one’s hands.

Consider the sequence of steps required for this activity and how they support all aspects or learning and development:

  • making the decision to paint
  • remembering to put on an apron and rolling up one’s sleeves
  • taking the paper and attaching it to the easel
  • painting the picture
  • writing one’s name on the picture, either by oneself or with the help of the directress
  • taking the picture off and putting it out to dry
  • filling up a bucket with enough water to be able to wash the easel
  • squeezing the sponge/cloth
  • wiping the easel and the paint pots if necessary
  • making sure they are clean and rinsing the sponge or cloth
  • emptying the water from the bucket
  • checking that there is no spilled water and mopping it if necessary
  • washing one’s hands and taking off the apron

Each step also requires its own skills and procedures – indeed they involve an array of problem-solving, remembering, thinking and physical skills. This method also requires a different approach from the adult, who must make sure that the environment is ready and enables children to perform all these steps on their own – for example, the apron, paper and paints need to be ready for use, the picture drying area needs to be accessible and manageable for the child, the bucket and sponge need to be nearby, as does the mop for drying up any spills.

And just imagine the child’s face at the end: a triumph of autonomy! When this activity is able to be done at home it requires even more co-ordination but as above once the child knows the procedure then it all starts to fall into place.

Sometimes, remember, the trick is to TRUST the child! ;)…once the child knows how something works then it requires us directresses and parents to stand back and let them do it by themselves…

“Everything you do for me you take away from me” (Maria Montessori)

If you are tempted to try this at home, but are anxious about it working, why not try it outdoor side first? You will be amazed how quickly your child will be eager to participate, and if you persevere, you will be able to introduce it inside within a couple of months. Why not empower the children to be in charge of their painting activities?

Children respond well to outdoor activities and in our environment of Mallorca it is the ideal place to start. Along with strengthening their bodies and their hands it promotes thinking skills and there is nothing children love more than working in the soil growing their own veggie patch or planting seeds for flowers, collecting and identifying leaves of the trees around them, finding bugs, building a bird house. Use real tools, mum or dad can guide or grandpa or grandma. Dig holes, make cubbies and play and enjoy nature, teaching them to respect all that lives and grows around us and makes our world a better place.

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