A few days ago, my husband and I were talking about how raising a child the Montessori way is definitely not the easy way to take in the beginning. I tried to explain how the first 2 years are definitely a sort of investment and then you start really seeing the fruits around the 3rd year.
The next morning, the first thing I saw when I looked at my phone were the following pictures from a friend. They are of her 3-year-old son cooking a proper breakfast for himself. It was like the universe heard our conversation the night before, and decided to contribute to the conversation.
Anyways, my friend M and her son were home because they were both ill. Her son came to her and said he wanted to make breakfast. She got up to set things up for him so they could make it together but he told her not to worry that he wanted to do it all by himself. He proceeded to set up everything that he needed. She pulled out her camera and decided to watch.
I asked what the bowls were for and apparently he put the cucumber in one, plantain in another and an orange in the 3rd one. He knew what he wanted!
In Montessori, we try to instill order in the child by having place for everything and every thing in its place. You can see that reflected here by the way he has set up a container for everything he thinks he’ll need. We also teach children as young as 9 months old how to peel a banana.
Yes, he is using a knife. We teach children the right way to use things and point out the danger. This way, they can use it properly to avoid the danger. Banana, avocado are soft and usually the first things the child is shown how to cut and the we gradually move to other fruits and vegetables like cucumber, steamed carrots etc.
In a Montessori classroom water is used in a lot of activities. The child frequently carries large glass pitchers of water for hand washing or dish washing or cloth washing. In the process, they build their coordination.
Of course safety is considered. The cooker was lit by his mum, but he was allowed to handle every step he thought he could handle.
Clean up is the last step in every activity, and the child is taught that the activity is not complete until everything has been cleaned up and put away. One thing to note is that some points of interest are shown to the child, so that he can correct himself. In this case, as he started washing, he felt some water and realized he needed an apron. No one needed to remind him
He added the cucumber by himself and by choice. Children are encouraged to eat healthy and balanced meals from the beginning. After all that work, he gets to enjoy the fruit of his labor! In the same way, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor after putting in the extra thought, patience, time and care that it take to bring up a Montessori child!
I’ve seen 2 yr Olds bake bread and cookies and prepare meals for the entire class. Children are very capable. All they need is an environment that is prepared to support their needs and independence. I look forward to this stage when I can cross my legs and have my little chef make dinner. Soon enough!
I have written about Ryan before in this post. After reading it again, I am not at all surprised that he’s a confident and capable young man. “Never help a child at a task at which he feels he can succeed.”