When parents visit kinder garden classes, they often ask me for exercises that they can do at home with young children. To meet this demand, I decided to regularly publish articles on the subject.
A series of exercises that you can do at home involves « sorting out things ».
This type of exercise develops your child’s notion of order, classification, the search for the common element in a series, and the visual discrimination…
Like all exercises elaborated by Maria Montessori, it responds to a sensitive period the child goes through at a very young age: a period of order. Therefore, when solving these exercises, your child is greatly developing his capacity to order.
To carry out these exercises correctly, the child must be concentrated and must complete the exercise. It is essential to develop the child’s concentration in every possible way.
These exercises also have indirect goals. One obvious goal is the preparation to math because math involves a sorting of ideas in your head before giving out an answer. Another goal is the development of fine motor skills.
You can also use these exercises to introduce new vocabulary in different languages (sensitive period to languages): names of rocks, seashells, colors, geometric forms and so on…
You can also take advantage of what nature has to offer when you do the exercise. It is important to try to link the exercise to something that the child is experiencing in his own world. For example, in fall, you can sort out different types of nuts.
Here are some essential principles when you are preparing the exercises for your child:
– always try out the exercise on your own to make sure your child will be able to do it. Never put him in a situation of failure.
– prepare a self-correction because the child must be able to correct himself on his own. When sorting out, make sure you put as many elements in each category.
– For the first exercises, help the child’s way of doing things: for example, when sorting out colors, put a colored sticker inside of the bowl so that the child knows which color he must put in it.
– For young children, use a few objects to sort out at the beginning and then increase the quantity so that the discrimination is easy to determine.
– Ask the child to finish the exercise and to put away.
– Start by presenting exercises with objects that he particularly likes: cars, animals (domestic animals, wild animals, fish, reptiles, mammals…)
– Present the exercise with nice looking material. It will develop the child’s sense of harmony, of the beauty of things, and so on…
– Change the exercises regularly so that the child wants to do them. It will cultivate his thirst for learning.
These exercises can be done with very young children, even before the age of 2. You can repeat these exercises and complicate them as you go along (sorting out Legos, and then later small pieces of IKEA furniture…)