At-Home Activities That Build Life Skills

As the weather gets colder and families anticipate spending more time at home, parents have asked us how to keep their Kindergarten-aged children busy and active.

Maria Montessori once said, “The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence,” and we truly believe that! Parents who are new to the Montessori-style of education are shocked with what their young children are actually able to do and what they take responsibility for, if given the chance.

To that end, here are a few of our favorite at-home activities for kids as young as preschoolers. They will not only have fun doing these, they will feel like a “big kid” when given the responsibility. Yes, you may have to initially help them, but over time, they will be able to handle these on their own (and just think about how great it will be to have an extra set of hands to help around the house!).

Practical Life Skills

  •       Set the table (napkins and non-breakable dishes are great starting points)
  •       Cook or bake with a family member (talk about measuring ingredients and have them help)
  •       Assist with washing the dishes (more bubbles = more fun!)
  •       Fold the laundry (start with washcloths and towels or have them match socks)
  •       Rake leaves
  •       Garden (if weather permits)
  •       Build a snowman

Another one of our favorites, which will take a bit on your part to set up, is to get three separate bins or trash cans: one for recycling, one for compost, and one for the garbage. Have the children sort items to decipher what goes into which bins and talk to them about the differences between the three.

Math Skills

  •       Play board games, especially ones with dice and/or cards like Uno
  •       Play checkers and/or chess

Be sure to let your child do the math and counting; don’t rush them.

Language Skills

  •   Read out loud together as much as possible
  •   Let your child “read” one of their books during quiet time
  •   Work on crossword puzzles together
at home activities baking
Image courtesy of Aislinn McKeown.

There are numerous, age-appropriate crossword puzzles online, but be sure to print whichever one you decide to work on together. Have them sound out the words and then practice circling each word, which also helps with fine motor skills.

 Fine Motor Skills

  •       Make cards for friends and family
  •       Trace an object onto paper and then cut it out with scissors
  •       Knit—yes knit! (here are some great tutorials)
  •       Practice the “coat flip trick” so they can learn how to put on their jackets themselves (here’s a short video tutorial)

At Daycroft, the school where we work, we focus on nurturing the whole child in a student-centered environment. This means that we not only appreciate children’s differences, but we empower them to take significant responsibility in their own learning.

Believe it or not, children can take care of themselves from a very early age. We have students who are already slicing their own bananas, apples, and carrots. Others are fantastic window washers, jump ropers, and sewers. Of course, many of these at-home activities need to be supervised; however, just imagine how confident and proud your child will feel once they’ve mastered a new skill.

If you’re looking for toddler-appropriate activities, Daycroft put together the Top 10 Montessori-Inspired Activities for Toddlers that you can download for free here.

Aislinn McKeown has been a teacher for four years and is currently a Kindergarten teacher at Daycroft School in Ann Arbor. Paula Miller has been teaching for 20 years and is an associate Kindergarten teacher, also at Daycroft.

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