"Furniture for children, their tables and chairs, should be light, not only that they may be easily carried about by childish arms, but because their very fragility is of educational value. The same consideration leads us to give children china, plates, glass drinking-vessels and fragile ornaments, for these objects become the denouncers of rough, disorderly and undisciplined movements. Thus the child is led to correct himself, and he accordingly trains himself not to knock against, overturn, and break things; softening his movements more and more, he gradually becomes their perfectly free and self-possessed director.
"On the other hand, when a child comes into collision a hundred times with an enormous heavy iron-bound desk, when he makes thousands of invisible ink-stains on a black bench; when he lets a metal plate fall to the ground a hundred times without breaking it, he remains immersed in his sea of defects without perceiving them; his environment meanwhile is so constructed as to hide and therefore to encourage his errors." - Maria Montessori
We use real (not plastic) plates, bowls and cups because we believe:
- Children can be empowered and allowed to use 'real' things; we can show the child we trust and respect them.
- Children are capable; we can respond to their abilities and help them develop their skills.
- Children need to be allowed to learn natural consequences, drop a glass and it will break.
- We do not need to protect children from consequences. Naturally we don't want our cause harm to our children however breakages can provide an excellent opportunity to learn about cleaning up safely from an appropriate age.
- Children can learn and adjust their movements to protect the fragility of their environment
As a parent, I have seen this in action. My youngest child used real plates, bowls, and cups, made from porcelain and glass, from the start. There has only been a handful of breakages and most of them very early on, which would be expected with any child. He has learnt to perfect his movements, to respect his environment and simply to handle things with due care. My children can still be rambunctious, our house really isn't a fragile environment, but my children know and have learned over time, with actions not words, how to use real plates, bowls, and cups.
This is a really down-to-earth discussion on the topic Why I replaced the kids' plastic dishes: out with the plastic, in with the porcelain.
Some glasses are more breakable than others. We look for tempered glass, a weaning glass would be around 3 oz (≅90mls); a toddler might like around 5-6 oz (≅150mls). Duralex and Bormioli Rocco glasses are good options (available in Australia here - this shop has many useful kitchen items including this cutter, and here).