It's there, right on the edge of their current abilities that children are able to focus, practice, and eventually master a skill. (The same is true for adults btw). These activities offer just the right amount of challenge and interest for young children, and in turn build independence, grit, and real skills. Here's a few examples by age to get you started.
Children need lots of time to practice individual skills before they can be successful at meeting a goal on their own. We take a lot of these skills for granted as adults, and it's easy to forget that young children need to practice skills before they are ready to take on a larger goal. But what's the difference between practice and goals?
In Montessori, we use life skills (practical life) to build functional and mental independence, confidence, and responsibility. These “soft skills” aren’t a joke or fluff. They are absolutely necessary for becoming a responsible adult who can take care of herself and others. Here's how you can do this at home:
How do you encourage a very young child to practice and repeat an action on their own? Two magic words, said with a quiet suggestion. And three more to say when they succeed. This article includes a real, unscripted video of myself and 2 year old K. Watch to see what I said, when I didn't say anything, and how I offered assistance.