It’s a common belief that the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a home. We hurry about to prepare meals on time and constantly clean up after ourselves to try to always maintain a presentable and clean atmosphere; the cycle is endless. Similar preparation and effort should be put into the tools and equipment you make available to your children in their “self-feeding” area.
The dinner table is a place where we gather to socialize and enjoy one another’s company. The same can be said for a child’s self-feeding area. This is an area available to use when the child feels hungry or thirsty, and provides the tools necessary to fulfill their bodily needs. We want to try to have everything readily available at all times, so the child can complete this work independently, better developing their self-feeding skills. Our role is to model how to properly use each utensil (silverware, napkin, cup, plate, etc.) so the child can internalize the process and appreciate each delicate movement. Dr. Maria Montessori quoted, “the child can develop by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences ‘work’.” We model how to properly pour the water from the pitcher into the cup, then how to hold the cup and carefully take a drink of water. We model how to use each utensil, displaying how to eat the food through overly-dramatic motions. All the while, the child is internalizing each step and understanding the importance of this work. You’d be amazed at what your young ones are capable of doing when given the ability to do so.
Here we revisit the Crawford family home, taking a closer look at their eating area that they’ve prepared for their young son, complete with small furniture and tools suitable for his growing needs. Everything is set at his level so that he may eat when he is hungry, pour water for himself whenever he feels the urge to drink, and clean up afterwards, knowing where each item is to be returned.
(Notice the satisfied expression on his face after preparing the table all by himself, the reward a filling and healthy snack; truly a Montessori child at heart!)
Teach by Teaching, not by Correcting
“The most powerful tool parents have for sharing their way of life and values is the example they set. In every waking moment of the child’s life, especially in the first three years, she is learning and becoming more and more like those people she finds around her. She will imitate the way of walking, moving and talking, the vocabulary, the handling of objects, the emotions, manners, taste, the respect and consideration (or lack of) for others, and on and on…when parents and children begin to spend more active time together the need for these lessons comes up often and can be enjoyed by both adult and child; life becomes more and more pleasant.”
-The Joyful Child, Birth to Three Years, 2010-2011 Edition
To purchase your own Montessori eating utensils for your child’s self-feeding area, visit http://www.michaelolaf.com/store