Practical tips for toddlers and preschoolers

Written By Julia Gorham

In the Montessori classroom we aim to create independent children through the Practical Life exercises which teach basic skills to the child. Everything from pouring to dressing frames will be found on our shelves, to teach those manners we want our kids to learn. Here are some useful examples and practical ways to help with cutlery, teeth brushing, dressing and pouring

How do I get my children to use cutlery?


Set up a pretty mat, small plate with small knives and forks. Lay the plate on the mat with the fork on the left and knife on the right, a cup on the right and napkin to the left of the fork.  

Demonstrate, slowly to your child how to hold a fork with the left hand and a knife with the right hand and show them how to cut up food with a knife and fork. (Role Play is great fun)

Table setting and table manners is a practical life skill that can give your child extra confidence and independence and to feel comfortable in social situations.

Remember, children will imitate your table manners. Having family meals together, is an important  tool to reinforce this.


How do I get my children to brush their teeth?


It’s never too early to teach your young children the importance of good oral hygiene. Young children are very capable of brushing their own teeth.


Make it a fun experience for your child and you can  sing “This is the way, we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth, early in the morning” etc. as they brush their teeth. Try this, it’s a winner !


Buy a bright colored toothbrush and place your child’s toothpaste and tooth brush in a special mug in the bathroom and establish a good tooth brushing routine after meals.


How do I get my children to dress themselves?


Child learning to button his own shirt.

This is when parents require a lot of patience and must allow for extra time in the mornings, whilst their children attempt to dress themselves.


Allow your child to choose his/her own clothes the night before and to lay their clothes out ready for the next day.


Children will be more willing to dress themselves with the special clothes they have chosen, even if the outfit is not colour co-ordinated. (You might need to guide them)


A great activity for your child to gain practise with dressing skills, is to set up an activity with an item of their clothing and to demonstrate how to unzip and zip a jacket with a zipper, open and close buttons etc. and then ask your child to do the same.


This will keep your child occupied for ages and they will love it!


To set up pouring activities for your Toddler with basic kitchen items

Place two containers (small cups, jugs, cups etc.) on a small tray.

– Fill one container with dry ingredients e.g. rice, lentils, popcorn curdles, couscous, small /large beans etc.

– Sit next to your child and demonstrate in slow, exaggerated movements, how to pour the dry ingredients from one container to another, and then ask your child to have a turn. Your Toddler will love this and keep them well occupied.

-Initially set up your Toddlers pouring activities with large beans, then small beans, rice, couscous etc.

– Once your Toddler has mastered pouring dry ingredients, you can set up pouring activities with water and you can add food colouring to the water to make it more appealing.



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