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Toddler years are generally characterized by a child’s untamed desire for independence. They observe us closely spending hours preparing food, entertaining, and naturally, that creates an infinite desire to imitate adults and gain autonomy in the kitchen. In this guest post, Eva of Mimia Montessori shares some practical and excellent tips on how to support toddlers’ independence in the kitchen and set them up for success.
Typically, in a Montessori environment, you will see babies start eating at a weaning table at a very young age. They use ceramic plates and real glasses instead of plastic ones, to practice eating like the grown-ups, which helps them develop a sense of independence from a very early age.
Personally, I preferred my children to eat together with us at the family table, as I think the social aspect of eating together as a family is so important. However, we also foster independence in this setting.
By using a bib with an elastic neckline, the child can put it on and off by its own. No need to tie it, as it has an elastic neckline. I suggest providing a hook near your child’s eating area where he can reach for his bib and hang it up all by himself after mealtime. The bibs I make are very adsorbent as they are made from cotton fabric in the front and soft toweling in the back. Moreover, it is big (28×33 cm) so to cover well the clothes of your little one.
In the Montessori method, infants are presented with placemats that have markings for their dishes and cutlery to help them learn where everything goes. As soon as a child can walk and carry objects, she/he can independently set the table at mealtime. Make sure to place all the items the child needs at an accessible height.
I am offering placemats made of water-resistant fabric, so they easily wipe clean with a damp cloth, or you can just rinse them under the water tap after use. They can also be washed in the washing machine.
The shapes of the plate, glass, and utensils are easy to identify and the right place for everything is clear. Children enjoy setting the table with no instruction, stimulating them to be independent. The placemat also helps to prevent any drink spill, as children are very conscience about placing the glass on the provided circle.
Of course, toddlers not only enjoy eating… food preparation is a real celebration! As toddlers grow, they become more observant and helpful with the activities that parents do every day. … A first step is making your kitchen safe and accessible to your toddler. You can use a learning tower, which I think is a great tool. However, a chair will also do. Yes, we used a chair, and yes, my children felt off a couple of times, but it isn’t that high, they never got injured (I can’t say the same of what happened at the playground), and yes, they learn quick enough to stand in the center of the chair to avoid falling. Some ideas to start food preparation with very young children: cutting bananas, peeling a hard-boiled egg, making a garden salad, juicing an orange…
Wearing an apron while preparing food keeps clothes clean and dry, but it also helps kids to focus on the task at hand: to “become” the chef or the dishwasher. I offer Montessori-inspired aprons for 1-2 years old (difficult to find on the market!), 3-6 years old, and 7-12 years old. The smaller sizes come with an elastic neck strap and a Velcro closure at the waist, easy for young children to manage. Since the child needs no help from an adult to put on or take off the apron, it fosters independence and contributes to self-confidence.
I offer aprons in both “normal” and water-resistant fabrics.
As you can see, by choosing the right materials, you offer your child more independence. After all, Montessori always fosters a Prepared Environment. I hope the above ideas will help you to create joyful moments in the kitchen with your toddler!
About the Author
Hi! I am Eva Vanderlinden from Mimia Montessori. I discovered Montessori when my oldest daughter was one year old, and then started sewing Montessori materials. Growing together, I shifted from baby puzzle balls to aprons and language materials… selling my products worldwide now in my online shop: www.mimiamontessori.com
Montessori Learning and Living - Books and Learning Resources
The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three
Montessori guidelines presented here have held true all over the world, no matter what the culture of the child, for over 100 years and prove to be as true in 2021 as ever. It is the goal of this book to help parents look for, discover, appreciate, and support the mental, physical, and emotional needs of the child in the first three years of life, in their own culture.
THE MONTESSORI FAMILY, THE ULTIMATE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR AGES 0 TO 5 Create an Empowering Montessori Home Environment and Help Your Child Grow Their Independence, Creativity and Confidence
Then you probably support the concept of Montessori, a unique educational philosophy that fosters the growth of the whole child.
No wonder studies show that across a range of abilities, children at Montessori schools significantly out-performed those given a traditional education.
Practical Guide to the Montessori Method at Home: With more than 100 activity ideas from 0 to 6 (Montessori Activity Books for Home and School)
The Practical Guide to the Montessori Method is aimed at parents who want to integrate the Montessori philosophy at home with their children.
An international besteller in education and homeschooling, translated to four languages.
A basic introduction to the principles of the Montessori philosophy,
Numerous illustrated examples of how to apply it at home, classified by subject and age, and explained clearly and concisely,
The Red Corolla: Montessori Cosmic Education for Age 3-6+
This is the perfect book for families helping with their children's education during the Covid epidemic. Homeschooling, or helping provide a balanced well-rounded education in an enjoyable way.
These "culture" lessons are taught in Montessori teacher-training course—physics, biology, history and geography, and the art. They are presented here in great detail and lay the foundation before age six for the older child’s search for his Cosmic Task.
The Montessori Toddler Activity Book: 60 At-Home Games and Activities for Curious Toddlers
Some of children’s most important social and emotional developments happen during their toddler years. Encourage learning and inspire discovery at home with this toddler activity book based on the Montessori method, a child-centered and scientifically based approach to engaging kids in their own development. From moving to music to creating a suncatcher and playing card games, this wide range of fun activities for toddlers will foster independence and build confidence.
Child of the World
The word "Montessori" is not legally protected and is used sometimes in ways that have little to do with authentic Montessori practices. In this book the author, who has almost fifty years of AMI Montessori teaching and consulting experience and work as an oral examiner for teacher-training courses, briefly presents authentic Montessori practices for ages 3-6 (the primary class), ages 6-12 (the elementary class), and ages 12-18. Here are ideas for using Montessori principles in the home. One mother put it very well, "This book is deep yet simple. Even my husband had the time to read it and now we are using the ideas together, a happy couple."
The Montessori Baby: A Parent's Guide to Nurturing Your Baby with Love, Respect, and Understanding
It’s time to change the way we see babies.
Drawing on principles developed by the educator Dr Maria Montessori, The Montessori Baby shows how to raise your baby from birth to age one with love, respect, insight, and a surprising sense of calm. Cowritten by Simone Davies, author of the bestselling The Montessori Toddler, and Junnifa Uzodike, it’s a book filled with hundreds of practical ideas for understanding what is actually happening with your baby, and how you can mindfully assist in their learning and development.
Montessori Homeschooling, One Family's Story
A fifteen-year experience of day-by-day, year-by-year, learning how to create an authentic Montessori education at home through elementary, middle, and high school. The main guide or teacher during these years had taken AMI teacher training courses for 0-3, 3-6, and 6-12 and had taught for many years. Even though this is not to be thought of as an instruction manual for Montessori homeschooling it is hoped that the book will be helpful for parents and teachers wanting to understand the value of a unique educational path, rather than thinking that all children should be educated exactly the same way (in both traditional and Montessori schools).
The Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being
It’s time to change the way we see toddlers. Using the principles developed by the educator Dr. Maria Montessori, Simone Davies shows how to turn life with a “terrible two” into a mutually rich and rewarding time of curiosity, learning, respect, and discovery.
With hundreds of practical ideas for every aspect of living with a toddler, here are five principles for feeding your child’s natural curiosity, from “Trust in the child” to “Fostering a sense of wonder.”
Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom
In "Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom," the author shares stories based on fifty years of Montessori work in thirty countries, first as a teacher of children from 2-13 in Montessori schools, then discovering new ways to use Montessori principles in a variety of situations—all aimed at inspiring, and providing practical ideas, to parents and teachers today.
The Universal Child, Guided by Nature: Adaptation of the 2013 International Montessori Congress Presentation
"Traveling with Susan Stephenson through her book The Universal Child, Guided by Nature was a pleasure. Montessori practices applied to all cultures today, highlighted by Maria Montessori’s words, the author’s experience in many countries, and the eloquent photographs, generated in me a great enthusiasm to continue my journey through this path. Thank you for being a source of inspiration."
Montessori and Mindfulness
This book is based on 50 years of work in 30 countries, teaching, and observing and consulting with schools. Mindfulness is an ancient practice in the East, a great need for health and happiness in the West, and an everyday practice in Montessori schools. The author tells her own story of 45+ years of meditation and working in the Montessori field, and gives detailed suggestions for both parents and teachers to aid the development of this skill in themselves and in the children they live with.
Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom: Preparing an Environment that Fosters Respect, Kindness & Responsibility
Positive Discipline, developed by Jane Nelsen and based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, is designed to help young people become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities. In this book, Nelsen and Chip DeLorenzo bring together Montessori and Positive Discipline for the first time, offering a methodology for addressing behavior in the classroom that is consistent with the core Montessori belief of respect for the child.
Toddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage: Effective Strategies to Tame Tantrums, Overcome Challenges, and Help Your Child Grow
Make it easier to manage your little one’s most challenging behaviors with these highly effective toddler discipline tools. This standout among parenting books helps you learn how to effectively support your toddler as you deal with day-to-day difficulties.
Written by mother of two and child development expert Aubrey Hargis, this guide to parenting toddlers teaches you about the behavioral challenges you’ll face and the ways you can address them while fostering important life skills like curiosity, respect, independence, and confidence.
At the Heart of Montessori IV: The Pre-School Child 3-6 years
The At the Heart of Montessori series provides a thorough and easy-to-follow explanation of Maria Montessori's philosophy and educational method for all ages from birth to adolescence. These books will be of special interest to Montessori teachers or trainee teachers, acting as a support to, but not as a substitute for, Montessori teacher training. In addition parents, teachers and others who wish to find out about how children develop and how to help them as they grow, will find the books useful and interesting.
At the Heart of Montessori II: Core Principles in Action
The At the Heart of Montessori series provides a thorough and easy-to-follow explanation of Maria Montessori's philosophy and educational method for all ages from birth to adolescence. These books will be of special interest to Montessori teachers or trainee teachers, acting as a support to, but not as a substitute for, Montessori teacher training.
The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves
Bring compassion, generosity, and kindness into your home with this essential interfaith parenting guide to raising kids in a virtuous and spiritual household, with week-by-week strategies for living your best lives.
The most important job parents have is to pass basic virtues on to their children, and this invaluable book is designed to help make that job a little easier. Compiled by The Virtues Project, an international organization dedicated to inspiring spiritual growth in young and old alike, this multicultural, interfaith handbook shows parents and teachers how to turn words into actions and ideals into realities.
Montessori Made Easy: Practical Life Lessons: A Guide for Parents, Teachers, Preschools, and Child Care Centers for Creating Activities and Teaching ... Skills Using Simple Inexpensive Materials
Montessori Made Easy: Practical Life Lessons is a guide for Parents, Teachers, Preschools, and Child Care Centers. It is filled with ideas, pictures, and information for creating and teaching Montessori Practical Life skills. All of the materials and activities are simple, inexpensive, and you can put them together yourself. In this book you will find, "Montessori Made Easy."
The Child Is the Teacher: A Life of Maria Montessori
A fresh, comprehensive biography of the pioneering educator and activist who changed the way we look at children’s minds, from the author of Oriana Fallaci.
Born in 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, Maria Montessori would grow up to embody almost every trait men of her era detested in the fairer sex. She was self-confident, strong-willed, and had a fiery temper at a time when women were supposed to be soft and pliable. She studied until she became a doctor at a time when female graduates in Italy provoked outright scandal. She never wanted to marry or have children—the accepted destiny for all women of her milieu in late nineteenth-century bourgeois Rome—and when she became pregnant by a colleague of hers, she gave up her son to continue pursuing her career.
How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way, 2nd Edition
A parent's guide to building independence, creativity, and confidence in their children using Montessori learning techniques, written by Montessori president Tim Seldin.
An international bestseller, How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way adapts Montessori teachings for easy use at home. Packed with Montessori-based preschool activities and educational games that build confidence and independence through active learning, this authoritative illustrated guide helps raise self-reliant and creative children. Celebrate physical and intellectual milestones from birth to age six with activity checklists, and encourage development through proven child-centered teaching methods.
The Absorbent Mind (Unabridged Start Publishing LLC)
The Absorbent Mind was Maria Montessori's most in-depth work on her educational theory, based on decades of scientific observation of children. Her view on children and their absorbent minds was a landmark departure from the educational model at the time. This book helped start a revolution in education. Since this book first appeared there have been both cognitive and neurological studies that have confirmed what Maria Montessori knew decades ago.
The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori immediately captivated social reformers and educators around the world. First published in Italian in 1909, The Montessori Method has been translated into twenty languages, including the 1912 English translation. Its ideas were new and innovative compared to the traditional Lancasterian method in which large groups of children recited the teachers' words, word for word in unison.
Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from Birth to Adulthood
Paula Lillard, director of a Montessori school ranging in age from 18 months to fifteen years, provides a clear and cogent introduction to the Montessori program for the elementary and later years. In detailed accounts, Lillard shows how children acquire the skills to answer their own questions, learn to manage freedom with responsibility, and maintain a high level of intellectual stimulation by using the Montessori method. This is an essential handbook for parents and teachers who have chosen the Montessori alternative for the older child.
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