Children really enjoy folding – they see us – their parents at work, and they want to mimic what we do. Most importantly, young children really want to feel useful and helpful. Montessori Practical Life Activities offer children the opportunity to do all that!
I first introduced a traditional folding set activity (see here) to Adrian when he was 19 months old, but he had difficulties folding according to the folding patterns. Now, at two-and-a-half, after observing his sister fold cloths and towels numerous times, Adrian helps fold actual laundry, but he does it in a "square" pattern only.
If the child feels proud of his/her accomplishment even if to you the work may seem untidy, there is nothing to correct or help with, unless of course the child feels frustrated.
Toddlers really enjoy repetition. And for a young child, it is not the end-result (folded towels) that matters, but the process itself. As adults, we set out to accomplish a goal and stop working when the object has been achieved. A child, however, does not work to accomplish an external goal, but rather an internal one. So, s/he will repeat an activity until the inner goal is accomplished. The unconscious urge to repeat an activity helps the child to coordinate his/her movements and acquire proficient ability.
We are using this sturdy natural sea grass basket, which is woven on a metal frame for strength. The basket is a bit deeper than some other baskets, offering a great solution for storing blocks, napkins, or small cloths.
A traditional Montessori folding lesson would offer a child a cloth (buy here) with four different stitched folding patterns. The cloths have stitched folding lines in a contrasting color along the folding lines. Each set includes four cloths, each with a different stitched folding pattern. These cloths give children a chance to practice folding, gain confidence, and then apply folding skills to putting away towels and cloths. This lightweight lacquered hardwood folding cloth tray (buy here) is perfectly sized for this folding activity.
When did your toddler exhibit an interest in folding?