What can you do to bring a little Montessori into your kitchen? The kitchen is such an important place in the home, we spend so much time in there and nutrition is important in raising healthy children. Here are three ideas to improve the child's independence and capabilities in the kitchen.
1. Provide the child with their own low drawer.
A child can have their own drawer for their most used or favourite kitchen utensils. They can store their own plates, cups, spoons, whatever they need to access. If the drawer is organised, it makes it easy for the child to look after their things. For a very young child allowing them to access their own bowl, cup and spoon can be empowering.
2. Make (some) snacks, fruit or food accessible.
This can be difficult for parents especially if the child isn't used to having food freely accessible. If this doesn't work for your family or child I suggest just keeping the snacks accessible during a short period of time. For example keeping crackers and spread available in the morning during morning tea time. Another option is keeping a small amount of food available. For example one apple, or five crackers, so the child learns this is the amount of snack they can eat on this day and no more. This allows the child to independently access snacks without eating, or being tempted to eat an entire packet of crackers.
If having food readily accessible for the child just isn't going to work for you I suggest putting the snack or morning/afternoon tea ingredients down low and allow the child to prepare their own snack at the time, even if it is only spreading crackers, cutting cheese or transferring fruit into a bowl.
For a young child such as a toddler, we can make accessible a mandarin and a banana and allow them to access it, under supervision, when they are hungry and choose which of the two fruits they would like to eat. They get to eat it when they are hungry and are able to express some choice. We store some snacks and our drinking station on the lowest shelf in our kitchen pantry.
3. Provide a low workspace for the child to work on.
Often we bring the child up to work at the kitchen bench, but if possible, I encourage you to look for some low workspace for the child. This can be a low coffee table or small side table or even some space on a low shelf in a pantry or cupboard. The child needs a comfortable work area to pour their drink, to cut their fruit, to work on! In some homes, we see children do this work on the floor, but this isn't desirable. If you find your child doing this work on the floor I encourage you to look for a creative solution, to find some, even very small, workspace for the child. We use a little table (from Ikea) just next to the kitchen.
Finding Montessori solutions that work in your home may take time and patience and perhaps some creativity. Our kitchens were not made with children in mind, however, there are usually a few steps we can take to encourage the child's independence and improve their skills!