Practical life is a huge part of Montessori at home but often it's not the first thing on my mind when I'm trying to clean the house. Most of all I'm just wanting to clean the house as quickly and as easily as possible. I've learnt that when it comes to vacuuming it is easier to allow young children to help.
Teaching a young child how to vacuum, where to find and use the vacuum cleaner can also help them clean up their own mess. Our house is split into four different levels so I need Otto (3yrs) near me when vacuuming, I can't leave him alone on a different level. So it works for us to have a smaller children's vacuum for Otto to use.
Our 'children's vacuum' is a small handheld dust buster type vacuum that is really useful for spot cleaning, it is light and cord-free meaning Otto can take it up and down the stairs and follow me around the house without any problems. And, of course, it actually cleans. We also encourage Otto to clean and look after his bedroom.
If you choose a handheld type vacuum for your child make sure it has an on/off button or switch. We've previously had one where you had to hold the button down while using it, this was really hard for children under five or so.
Are you wondering how other Montessori families use vacuums? Let's take a look!
"What’s the most frequently used practical life tool in your home? Ours would definitely be the hand-held vacuum." - @imperfectly.montessori.
Sometimes my children get obsessed with one type of practical life, all of my children have gone through a strong vacuuming stage. Like the child above they look all over for more dirt to pick up, it's fabulous!! It also makes me think how this is useful in developing concentration and also building gross motor skills.
"As a little toddler hack, I tend to drop a few pieces of recycled paper towel around the kitchen to give him something visible to aim for. In the process, he is unknowingly also picking up dust and small crumbs, so it’s a win for mom too! As his awareness and hand eye coordination improves, this scaffolding technique can be removed." - @shajaramontessori
This is a wonderful message for all families with young children. It's also important to note that young children don't necessarily see mess as a bad thing. As caregivers, we can be more forgiving of mess or spills and gently guide the child to clean up themselves or clean up together.
I've tried to track down the vacuum used by the last two families and I'm sure it's the Bissell Featherweight Stick Lightweight Bagless Vacuum. It looks like it's a good size for young children and it's the most popular vacuum I've seen in Montessori (toddler) homes.
For a lot of children, the noise of a vacuum is too much. When we bought our main vacuum sound output was the deciding factor. I love the example set here where the children are still participating but with some sound-reducing headwear.
It's also important to remember that children don't need their own vacuum. Depending on the level of suction they might be perfectly happy and capable with the vacuum as usual, or with a small nozzle or just the hose.
I've seen this with my own eyes - child-initiated vacuuming!! 😍Make sure you click through and read this useful caption.
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