“We can learn instead to give children the aid they need and then allow them to work for perfection on their own timetable.”*
We are finally doing it. We are going to transition Mariam from being put in her highchair to allowing her the opportunity to sit at her own table and enjoy her meals without having to do everything for her…eventually.
As I continued my reading in Montessori From the Start, I came across a section where the author explains the importance of practical life exercises in the kitchen and how the kitchen is the first environment to start when teaching practical life skills (page 101). Time and time again, I see hands-on parents talk about how their children partake in prepping meals, baking delicious cookies or helping parents mix and knead dough. This is brilliant and a goal I’d eventually like to achieve in our home.
It’s interesting because getting a child to help cook isn’t the only skill that we can teach them in the kitchen. Our children also deserve to learn how to sit at the dining table and do what an independent person does by setting the table, eating one’s food with proper etiquette (as much as possible), and cleaning after one’s self.
According to Montessori, there are a few items that are important to have in each kitchen, a child-size table and chair being the most important (page 101). The purpose of these two items are to teach the child to sit safely, comfortably, and independently while enjoying his or her meals and whatever work they choose to do throughout the day.
We’ve honestly had the table and chair out and displayed for a little over a month. We kept them in her play area so she could kind of “get to know them”. Now, we have started to show her their purpose, beginning with Mariam having her snack time at the table WHILE sitting at the table. The table and chair are no longer in her play area in the living room. Now, it’s strategically placed in the kitchen, as Montessori recommended.
We’ve actually had this table for quite some time, but it was disassembled and put away in a closet before Mariam was born. It was only $7 from Ikea. We recently bought the chair from Amazon, also originally from Ikea for $20. As you can also see, there are foam bumpers on the edges for safety reasons. Mariam is still trying to find her balance while walking.
I would like Mariam to eventually eat her main meals at this table, as well as learn how to carry her dishes and utensils back and forth by herself. For now, I am focused on getting her to learn how to be a “big girl” and sit at her table long enough to eat her snacks and enjoy some activities. I have also started teaching her how to wipe her table with a damp cloth, using specific motions to get the table clean. So far, she isn’t really interested in wiping her table. But, in her defense, I haven’t been modeling it long enough for it to have any effect.
It is safe to say that, in regards to teaching Mariam independence, we will solely be focusing on two things for the next few weeks:
1 – Having snack time at her table
2 – Wiping her table and chair afterwards (this might not make much sense to her until shes 15-18 months)
What’s up with the foot?
* Quote from Montessori from the Start by Paula Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen