The kitchen is an important part of any home and learning activities of every day life are a valuable skills for any child. It helps them to build independence and sets them up for later life. It’s also great for teaching them responsibility. That’s why it’s such a good idea to create a kitchen space for your children as part of your montessori environment so they can start learning those valuable skills from a young age. If you’re considering setting up a Montessori kitchen space in your home, here are some great tips to get you started.
The safety of your child should be your first concern at all times, which means constant supervision. When they start to get older and they’re more confident with all of the kitchen tools and, most importantly, understand how to use things safely, you can start to give them a little more freedom. Initially, you should let them prepare simple, cold food on their own, while still supervising them if they’re chopping or using the stove at all.
Deciding what they can and cannot have access to is the next step. Obviously, you can’t give them access to any of the sharp knives etc. To start with, you should give them access to their own plates, bowls, cups, and utensils in a low drawer (I will write more about montessori friendly kitchen tools you can offer and we have it in our kitchen available to Mia). They’ll be able to access basic utensils to make themselves a bowl of cereal or a drink. Organise the drawers and move anything sharp or dangerous into the highest drawers so you don’t need to worry about them getting in there when you aren’t in the kitchen with them.
Giving them their own space with their kitchen equipment it can be very empowering for a child. Make sure you keep everything else in a different drawer so they have a storage space that is just for them. Encourage them to arrange it in a way that they see fit, this will teach them the organisation skills necessary for cooking and help them to develop their own style.
Also it is good to encourage them to understand they are responsible for cleaning and putting the items back after they use them. Something that seems so small to an adult is actually a big deal for a young child and it will help to teach them responsibility.
As well as sharp items, don’t forget about the dangers of heavy items. Things like kettles (when full) and large pots can easily be dropped and hurt your child so make sure that you keep these out of the way as well. A boiling water tap like the ones from tap warehouse is a good alternative here because it means that they don’t have to pour from a heavy kettle filled with boiling water. Buy them some smaller pots and pans that are a lot more lightweight. It’ll make it a lot safer for them when they’re learning the basics of cooking.
Learning practical skills is one of the major benefits of a montessori kitchen but it also helps to teach your child to make their own decisions about what they’re eating. Making sensible food choices is key to good health in later life so this is an important aspect of the process. Children don’t always have great impulse control so you have to be limited in what you give them access to. For example, if you leave a packet of biscuits in their area, they might be inclined to eat all of them in one go. A good way of teaching them about sensible eating is to initially portion the food for them at different times of day. So, leave an apple and a few biscuits in there for a snack. This will teach them how much is a reasonable amount to eat. Once you’ve done this for a while, you can start to leave more food in there and they should be able to make their own decisions about how to divide it up.
Take Them Shopping
Learning to buy food is another important skill that you can incorporate if you take them shopping with you. Having them make decisions about which food to buy gives them more responsibility, teaches them about money management, and improves their cooking skills. Initially, you should take them with you and guide them on what to buy, perhaps asking them to make decisions between different brands of the same product etc. As they become more confident in the kitchen, you can have them pick a recipe and then find the ingredients that they need in the shop.
Get A Step
Setting up a low workspace for them is the best thing to do, but it’s not always feasible if you don’t have the extra space in the kitchen. In that case, you need to get a good step so they can get up to the worktops easily. There are some great lightweight plastic ones that they’ll be able to carry around with ease. Just remember, this does give them access to the hob so you have to be careful.
I hope I’ve inspire you to follow these simple tips and to create a great montessori space in the kitchen and help your child to start learning valuable life skills.