Washing a Chair
It's sometimes said that there's a lesson for everything in Montessori. No matter how trivial the activity seems to be, there's a special way of doing it in the Montessori classroom. Consider Washing a Chair, one of our favorite activities at this time of year. You may never have washed your chairs at home, but in our classrooms, children choose this work regularly.
Washing a chair is an advanced Practical Life activity, requiring extended attention and concentration and both fine and gross motor control. The child must set out multiple tools, including the soap, pitcher, pail, brush and sponge, and must remember the sequence of use for each. The child must carry his or her chosen chair to the work mat. After washing it carefully, he or she must be attentive to make sure it's fully dry or the chair won't be usable by other children.
Throughout, the natural motivation to work with the soapy water, the joyfulness of creating bubbles and wiping them away, and the satisfaction of engaging in and completing a large, noticable work in the classroom inspires children to choose this work regularly and repeatedly. At this time of year, you might even notice children carrying chairs outside of the classroom to the playground or sidewalk to scrub them there (where bubbles can be even bigger!)
Meanwhile, like all the Practical LIfe materials, the lesson supports the child's developing concentration, coordination, independence and order, and allows older children with more established skills the opportunity to continue to practice these qualities. And, our classroom enjoys the deep cleaning of these essential furniture pieces!Spring cleaning at its most joyous!
Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D.
Christopher Academy Alumna