A couple months back I cleaned out a kitchen cupboard and made a little space for Sarah (16 mths). It was good in theory but in reality, Sarah wanted to use the bowls and utensils in Jack’s (3.5yrs) space. She wasn’t particularly interested in using her space. And since the pantry was set up to foster Jack’s independence, I spent a lot of time redirecting Sarah to her cupboard. It just wasn’t working. So with a little reshuffling we now have a space the two of them can share.
The kids have had a shelf in the fridge for some time now. Jack is able to open the fridge by himself and help himself to a snack. Sarah is not yet able to do this but with some help she is able to choose what she wants. Having the food washed and chopped is a big help. Jack gets a lot of practice in other places washing and chopping (like when he is helping me prepare lunch and dinner) so I like that at snack time he can quickly and easily get what he needs. It also makes it easy when we are heading out, to grab a few containers and put a quick snack together (we are more often than not running late).
I like having a place for everything (my husband jokes that I am a ‘container-holic’). But I think it makes it easy for Jack and Sarah to find things and then return them when they are finished. Having Jack’s chopping board down near the bowls gives him a place to prepare his snacks.
Sarah’s old cupboard now has a place for drinks and a shelf for cleaning cloths. This set up seems to be working much better. The shelf with the drinks has a small towel underneath to catch any spills. The photo above was taken with my iPhone. I was preparing something in the kitchen when Sarah walked in, open the cupboard and poured herself a drink. We haven’t given her any explicit pouring activities, she just picked this up from watching I guess. This was the first time I noticed her doing this; it really made me smile.
‘We have exerted the effort to get him the things that he needs. Now we must learn to take ourselves in hand and watch from the sidelines, following him at a distance, neither tiring him with our intervention or abandoning him! He is always tranquil and self-sufficient while he is occupied with something that is very important to him. What remains for us to do other than to observe?’ ~ Maria Montessori, Child in the Family
If you’re thinking about making a space in the kitchen for your children I have put together some simple questions to consider in the Getting Started: Montessori page.