"Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence." Maria Montessori
One of the most important lessons I learned from my study of Montessori education is to encourage a child's independence. The need for a child to attempt a task, to "do it myself" is what enables them to progress, learn, develop confidence and continue to gain greater independence. Two ways an adult can encourage independence is through creating an environment allowing the child to try and practice growing skills and through maintaining an atmosphere of patience, observation, respect and encouragement. I use the word "need" when referring to independence because, for the child, it really is. A child's desire to attempt new tasks, practice familiar ones, and imitate what they see others doing comes from deep within.
Hen and Nest salt dips found on Ebay
With a two and four year old in our home we are in the midst of increasing independence on many levels. For the most part we do well using our home environment and following the needs and desires of growing independence. Once and awhile we will have a bump in the road and that is when we readjust. Most recently, it was needing to independently put salt on food at the dinner table. Small as it may be, it was a step towards independence that both daughters were wanting. The use of the salt shaker didn't allow for complete independence so we tried something else.
A small adjustment of using salt from a small bowl (and later from two cute salt dips) was successful.
A pinch of salt is used and sprinkled over the food. Other than a careful eye on the our youngest taking just one, both children have gained the independence they needed. I, too, have also started getting the salt this way, to continue to model and encourage their feeling of confidence.