Montessori Approach to Toddler Independence

Montessori Approach to Toddler Independence

The Montessori approach to education is based on the philosophy of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator. This approach emphasizes independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development.

In this article, we will explore the Montessori approach to toddler independence and how it can be applied in everyday life.

What is the Montessori Approach?

The Montessori approach is a child-centered educational approach that focuses on the individual needs and interests of each child. It is based on the belief that children are naturally curious and capable of learning through exploration and discovery.

The Montessori approach is based on the following principles:

  • Respect for the child: Children are treated with respect and are seen as capable individuals who are capable of making their own choices and decisions.
  • Prepared environment: The classroom is carefully designed to meet the needs and interests of the children. It is filled with age-appropriate materials that encourage exploration and learning.
  • Freedom within limits: Children are given the freedom to choose their activities within a structured and safe environment.
  • Hands-on learning: Children learn through hands-on activities and experiences rather than traditional teaching methods.

Toddler Independence in the Montessori Approach

The Montessori approach places a strong emphasis on fostering independence in children from a young age. This is because independence is seen as a crucial aspect of a child’s development and self-esteem.

Encouraging Self-Care Skills

In the Montessori approach, children are encouraged to take care of themselves from a young age. This includes tasks such as dressing themselves, brushing their teeth, and using the bathroom independently.

To encourage self-care skills, parents and caregivers can create a child-friendly environment that allows children to access their own clothes, shoes, and toiletries. This can be achieved by placing low hooks for hanging clothes, a small stool for reaching the sink, and a child-sized toilet seat in the bathroom.

Promoting Decision-Making

In the Montessori approach, children are given the freedom to make choices within a structured environment. This allows them to develop decision-making skills and learn to take responsibility for their choices.

Parents and caregivers can promote decision-making by offering choices to children throughout the day. For example, asking them to choose between two healthy snack options or which activity they would like to do first.

Encouraging Exploration and Discovery

The Montessori approach believes that children learn best through hands-on experiences and exploration. This is why the classroom is filled with age-appropriate materials that encourage children to explore and discover on their own.

At home, parents and caregivers can create a similar environment by providing open-ended toys and activities that allow children to use their imagination and creativity. This can include building blocks, puzzles, and art supplies.

Montessori Activities for Toddler Independence

The Montessori approach also includes specific activities that are designed to promote independence in toddlers. These activities are simple, practical, and can be easily incorporated into daily routines.

Pouring and Transferring Activities

Pouring and transferring activities involve using a small pitcher or cup to pour water or other small objects from one container to another. This activity helps develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and concentration.

To set up this activity, you will need a small pitcher, a small cup, and a tray or placemat to contain any spills. Fill the pitcher with water and place it next to an empty cup. Demonstrate how to pour the water from the pitcher into the cup and encourage your child to try it themselves.

Dressing Frames

Dressing frames are a staple in Montessori classrooms and are used to teach children how to dress themselves. These frames are made of wood and have different types of fasteners such as buttons, zippers, and snaps.

To create a dressing frame at home, you can use an old shirt or jacket and sew on different types of fasteners. Encourage your child to practice using the fasteners on the frame before attempting to dress themselves.

Food Preparation

In the Montessori approach, children are encouraged to participate in everyday tasks such as food preparation. This not only promotes independence but also teaches practical life skills.

To involve your toddler in food preparation, you can have them help with simple tasks such as washing fruits and vegetables, stirring ingredients, or setting the table. This not only helps them develop independence but also encourages healthy eating habits.

The Montessori Approach to Music

Music is an important part of the Montessori approach and is seen as a way for children to express themselves and develop their creativity. The Montessori approach to music is based on the following principles:

  • Exposure to different types of music: Children are exposed to a variety of music from different cultures and genres.
  • Hands-on experience: Children are encouraged to explore and play with different musical instruments.
  • Self-expression: Children are given the freedom to express themselves through music.
  • Group activities: Music is often used as a way to bring children together and promote collaboration.

Incorporating Music into Daily Routines

Parents and caregivers can incorporate music into daily routines to promote independence and creativity in toddlers. This can include singing songs during bath time, playing music during meal times, or having a dance party before bedtime.

Musical Instrument Exploration

Provide your child with a variety of musical instruments such as drums, shakers, and xylophones and encourage them to explore and play with them. This not only promotes independence but also helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Music and Movement Activities

Music and movement activities are a great way to promote independence and self-expression in toddlers. These activities can include dancing, marching, or playing instruments along with music.


The Montessori approach to toddler independence is based on the belief that children are capable individuals who can learn and develop through exploration and discovery. By promoting self-care skills, decision-making, and hands-on learning, parents and caregivers can help foster independence in their toddlers. Incorporating music into daily routines and providing opportunities for musical exploration can also aid in the development of independence and creativity. By following the principles of the Montessori approach, parents and caregivers can help their toddlers develop important life skills and reach their full potential.

AUTHOR: Montessori School of Downtown

It all began over 30 years ago with two newlyweds who were passionate about education. Together, Ms. Rita, a renowned professional educator, and Mr. Hersh, a natural teacher and entrepreneur, created a child care education program that focused on the concept of self-inspired learning.View all posts by Montessori School of Downtown |