With toddler in the kitchen – Our Montessori Prepared Kitchen

A play kitchen for Agastya (16 months). He can open all the kitchen doors independently now. Few weeks ago he couldn’t reach to upper portion but now he can manage himself. Kitchen has “growing legs” so can grow together with him.

All his cutlery, plates, bowls and food table mat are arranged in places marked by red tape. Like this they have they stable places and it is much easier for little one to remember what belongs where. It took him one day to absorb new information and apply it in real.

He can get his small glasses from top left shelf and glass jar from the right one.

Upper wardrobe works as storage for some of his snacks that he can take independently.

“Growing chair” is best for the child to teach him table manners and socialize. We can just move the seats up and down according to our convenience so he can climb up and down independently. Till now he didn’t find out the exact way of doing so but I give him maximum 2-3 days and he will be there. This chair doesn’t have table which is allowing him to enjoy the meal times and gives him feeling of importance.

Table mat you can make very easily by yourself. It again helps to define the space. He was very happy when he found out that spoon fits in its outline.

We have also small stand with two upper shelves for us and three down ones for Agastya. He can come, serve himself, use ingredients for his play cooking (which is not so often as he wants to cook in real on real gas with me) and on low shelf he has his basket with cleaning stuff. We do not keep toy food for play. Instead he plays with real pasta, walnuts, cinnamon sticks, dried grapes…

Learning tower is one of the best inventions in the world. We have it from the time Agastya was 12 months and it is one of the most widely used item in our house. As he has “kitchen fever” or “dry-liquid-pouring-stirring-mixing sensitive period” it is most often utilized in the kitchen but we already used it everywhere. Only two days ago he found out how to get in and out by himself.

 

25 PRACTICAL TIPS HOW TO START MONTESSORI AT HOME TODAY

Ok, so let’s say I have the idea who was Maria Montessori, what was she doing and what she aimed for. I know the basic principles, I know the respect for child is the most important and I also know that me as a guide of my child I should provide him the safe space where he can discover and thus learn independently by himself. 

Yes, theory – check.
But how to put all these information into our everyday life? How to incorporate them into our home environment? 
I find myself scattered lot of times. My mind is wandering from thought to thought from kitchen to bathroom and to bedroom and to creative space and and and… I had to (still have to) learn how to focus on one thing (and my son will not have same problem as we follow Montessori that’s teaching that mostly, isn’t it :P)
I got a baby to teach me what I was not taught in my childhood. He came to me to show me how to enjoy the moment to the fullest and focus focus focus.
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The one can not teach kids how to swim, how to climb the rock or how to focus on one task if the one can not do it by herself/himself. That’s what I recently discovered. Wah, that’s great, but what to do with this information?
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Learn to swim, learn to climb the rock or become Montessori in the core of your personality.  
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There are lot of information about Montessori method available on internet, in books or you can join training centers, preschools or mother toddler classes.
Only once I am sure THIS is my way, this is what my child and ME (along with him) need I can prepare our space and start our Montessori life, isn’t it?
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How to start Montessori with your child? 
1) Be sure you are not going to be disturbed, everyone is sleeping or out of house. It is difficult to think constructively with toddler hanging on your leg.
2) Take a pen, notebook, make a coffee and sit down. Get ready for some serious thinking.
3) Take a deep breath and focus!
4) You are going to write down the list of things that are the spine of Montessori method according to you. Try by yourself… You can check with my list below to get an idea of prepared environment (we don’t get into materials yet).
5) Now think! Write next to each and every point you mentioned how you can achieve that.
a) ADAPTATION OF SPACE
b) CHANGE OF APPROACH
6) When thinking about change of space,  think from the child’s point of view. Literally!
Go down on your knees, belly (depending on age of kid) and see what can he see. Can he switch on the light? Can he wash his hands? Can he choose his clothes? Can he lie down on bed once tired?
If you found out the answer is NO you just started the Montessori journey.
Now you see how much the child must be stressed when he has to rely on adult all the time he needs something.
7) Try to work with whatever is available. If you decide you need to buy something first you will never start. I will show you our Montessori home in next post.
8) Think about all the changes IN DETAIL so you don’t have to change it again and again. Children love the order and they just don’t cooperate when our house or we are in mess.
9) After all the changes done keep the house clean and neat. All should have it’s space so child learns. Order equals to clarity. Clarity equals to focus. Focus equals to peace.
10) When I find my boy disturbed, running from activity to activity, messing around I stop. I stop myself, let everything be just as it is (means lot of days without home made food) and clean the mess in my head.
11) Work on habit to clean after yourself. Not talking about toys or materials only. Our kids are watching and absorbing all they see.
Today I got amazed,my 16 months old took out CD from drawer and CLOSED THE DRAWER like it’s completely natural thing! 
12) When you think about your approach to child,  being Montessori mother (click to read When to crown yourself Montessori mother?) means to respect the child as human being, give him choices and respect the final choice (even if you don’t agree). Give him safe and prepared space to do everything by himself so he gets the feeling of independence and importance. Ask him to help you (provided he wants to) so he feels important part of your family.

13) Get rid of all the plastic toys. Go for soothing natural materials.

14) Learn about and apply minimalism.
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Tips on changes in the space:
1) Bathroom – stool to reach sink, soap, toothbrush available, towel on low positioned hook.
2) Toilet – potty at one place (can be marked by tape so child always knows where it is)
3) Bedroom – bed on the floor. 2-3 books available at the height of child. Space for his clothes,easily reachable for him with choice of 3 different shirts, pants…His dressing table should contain hairbrush and mirror also.
4) Kitchen – shelf for snacks and water, space to keep spoons, forks, plates.
5) By the door – keep a chair so he can wear his shoes, hanger in height of his shoulders and space for shoes.
6) Learning tower (I will blog about this point in few days).
7) High chair without table
8) Small table with chair for eating, working
9) Creative space
10) Reading space
11) Cleaning material space
Take these tips as a guideline as for every family there are different ways of how to do and what to do.
Just remember it really doesn’t have to be lavish and most cool Montessori furniture the world has ever seen. You can come up with lots of creative ideas once thinking about it.
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HAPPY MONTESSORI