I was wrong about the pace of study at the Montessori College being comfortable. It very soon turned uncomfortable and then — avalanche! I have been feeling snowed under for the last couple of weeks but I’m hoping to get used to the pace soon.
I’m enjoying it, though. At the moment, for practical classes, we’re learning how to do the activities that we will, in the future, teach children.
That includes household chores.
I don’t want to be a bore, but I have to explain it lest you think we are either crackpots or slave-drivers. Very briefly:
Small children love doing chores, as a matter of fact, so if you let them help out around the house (and not get impatient if they do it too slowly or poorly), they will develop a keen sense of responsibility and grow up independent and confident. At the same time, chores also help develop their co-ordination and motor skills, among many other useful life skills.
Better yet, they will grow up to become helpful human beings even without your nagging.
One day, in class, our teacher surprised us by making us do presentations on the following activities:
- How to scrub a table.
- How to clean the floor.
- How to wash up dishes.
- How to wash a duster.
Previously, she always showed us how to do each task before we practised on our own.
You would naturally think it’s easy to scrub a table or wash up some dishes. But we have to do it in a systematic way so that children can watch and copy easily. Also, we have to use all the set equipment provided for each activity because there’s also a system in there.
It turned out that some of us didn’t know how to use certain household tools.
Some of us had grown up having domestic helpers in the house and aren’t too good with chores.
Some of us did stunts with the tools in a way that would stump three-year-old children (for example twirling a tea towel with one hand while rinsing a glass with the other).
Our class turned into a huge giggle fest as everyone laughed at everyone else stumbling over their presentations. Our teacher corrected us as we went along: “If a child tries to copy you doing that, you will end up with a broken glass.”
The hardest activity to present was probably the washing dishes one (because it has the most number of items).
My classmates who got that task fumbled at various junctures and stared helplessly at the equipment. It was very entertaining. Both of them happened to have grown up in, shall we say, privileged households.
(Which is not to say that the rest of us did any better with our chores.)
I am not naming names nor placing faces!
The following photo is a re-enactment by two volunteer classmates who might or might not be the two aforementioned ones, lol.
In any case, we all respect and appreciate each other’s fumblingness in class. It’s quite enjoyable if you can see the humour in the situation.
Kai and Charlotte enjoyed the re-enacting very much. And we’re all experts at chores now, after our lesson.
My activity was to clean the floor, which I found rather challenging because the only floor cleaning tools I’ve ever used are vacuum cleaners and those long-handled Magiclean floor wipers with disposable dust-eating sheets.
In class, I had to scrub a pretend floor with a mini scrubbing brush using two hands, even though just one hand alone could swallow up the entire brush. (Children need two hands to get enough strength, so we have to show it to them using two hands.)
But that was the easy part. The hard part was trying to figure out how to use the cloth and sponge, and in what order. (Answer: After scrubbing, mop up watery residue with sponge, then wipe floor dry with cloth.)
Give me my Magiclean wipers any day, but the children have to learn to do it without gimmicks.
(I’m not being a very good role model here but I don’t think three-year-old children are reading my blog so it’s okay.)
Well, we may be “experts” at chores now, but I’ll bet the children in the nursery downstairs are a lot better at doing them than the bunch of us in the classroom. And they enjoy it, too, so, good for them!
Oh, and Piers is a natural born chore genius, which trumps any supposed expertise, so he can continue doing the chores at home.