Montessori Monday 13 2013/14
Using a Dustpan
Wait. What? My child is learning how to use a dustpan at school? Shouldn't he be doing things like reading and math and science?
Those lessons are in abundance in our classroom, but they're offered seamlessly in an environment that also supports children's independence, concentration, coordination and order, that supports the habits of minds of good learners so that true learning happens. Learning to use a dustpan may seem like a simple skill. Consider, though, the different skills children have to have to be able to use the dustpan: visual discrimination, coordination between their hands and eyes, nuanced muscular control in their hands and wrists, control to adjust the angle of the brush, control to balance the full dustpan without dropping any pieces before they get to the trash. Learning to master the dustpan allows children another way to contribute to their communities, to take responsibility for their classroom space and to be able to correct mistakes on their own. It supports children in developing a sense of efficacy: that belief that they can take care of things on their own that's so essential to the persistence they'll need for challenging academic materials in other areas.
And while sweeping up may be a chore for adults at home, children eagerly choose this activity at school, anxious to develop the skills they need to be able to be "in charge" of their environments. Children may choose to practice with small snips of paper, and eventually will be able to find a broom and dustpan when, in the normal course of the day, something needs to be swept up. Try it at home: offer your child a small dustpan and dustbroom, hung low in the pantry or kitchen to be easily accessible. Sweeping up is a practical way for children to make their space more tidy and to work with adults in preserving order in their homes.
Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D.
Christopher Academy Alumna