When T was younger, I never had the space to set up a functional kitchen his size, like what E and V have. One of my former places didn’t even have space for a leaning tower. So instead, I tried to make it so that the kitchen could accommodate his needs and he felt comfortable accessing what he required.
While he had access to most of the kitchen, there were specific areas where his items were kept so that he could obtain them with great ease. In a lower cabinet, we kept his place settings for meals along with his snack foods. And for accessing the rest of the kitchen, there was a small stool–which was perfect as a plant stand when he wasn’t with me, which is once again done.
The stepping stool was perfect and he could easily maneuver it himself so that he could assist in making meals and cleaning up. T loved helping me cook and bake, he still does whenever we are together. I tend to eat a little healthier than he is generally used to, which sometimes caused looks of disgust. But when he assisted, there was a pride in eating what he helped create, even if it did happen to taste a little different.
This setup worked so well, that he requested something similar at his mother’s house.
There were some special snack foods that were kept in his cabinet and that were replenished every morning. He knew that those were limited and all he would be receiving for the day. He could eat them all quickly as he wished or save them for designated times. This helped him learn self-control and patience. There were times, such as Friday family movie night, in which he would purposely save a few snacks to enjoy.
While the snacks in his cabinet were limited, there was never a limit on the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables he could have. He had space in the refrigerator where I kept clean, ready-to-eat fresh goods– washed and sliced carrots, celery, strawberries, blueberries, and the like.
The girls have a functional kitchen as well as the ability to work at the counter, just as T has had. While we are starting to make some foods available to them, just as I did with T, they don’t have as many options, mostly due to choking hazards.
How do you make Montessori work for you?
Growing up, my parents couldn’t afford to give me unlimited access to foods like this. We were never hungry, but there were certain amounts that we were allowed to have and that was all. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that we don’t use food in or for crafts and this is why. Too many currently face this issue and I just can’t bring myself to “play” with food while others are in need. It brings back some painful memories that too many are still facing today. While I’ve been blessed and able to provide more than enough for T (and my husband for us), I will never forget my childhood that had rations. This is my personal stance and you should always do what you feel is best for you and your family.