MONTESSORI TODDLER: MEAL SET-UP AND PREP

The girls are starting to help with meal and snack time more and more. They aren’t doing it all by themselves, yet, so we do it together.

First, we prepare their table (use code FRENCH10 for a discount). We remove the activity (like their puzzle similar to this) that is already on their weaning table. We then carry their placemats over. For a time, they would hold my hand with one hand and carry the placement in the other or if they don’t want to carry the placemat, I will carry it while we walk together to their table. (Prior to them walking, I would carry them in one arm and an item at a time in the other, so that they remained part of the process.) Now they often know to grab them from their kitchen, one will usually bring her sister’s placemat to her sister or set both mats on the table. The same then happens with any silverware that is necessary.

We then walk back to their kitchen counter to prepare the meal. Right now we have been doing a lot of hard-boiled egg slicing. They have a small cutting board that I will use as a tray to carry the required materials. I carry this will two hands, just as they should carry it. Whenever I show them something new or notice that they are observing me, I proceed as they should–monkey see monkey do. I don’t bring out enough for both girls, because we do one plate of food at a time. Usually one will start preparing food and the other will notice and then join.

Once an egg, or two, is sliced and moved to their plate, we then walk the plate to their table and place-setting together. I then go and repeat the process with the next child.

While eggs are the current favourite, when they request something in particular or we are serving something else, they help with as much of the process as they are able. Picking out and carrying items from the refrigerator to the counter, grabbing the necessary silverware, to preparing foods.

With their new kitchen set up, I ask if they would like to help me clear the table. They will then either walk the plates and silverware to their sink and we will wash the dishes together or they will carry them to the main sink (our sink) and reach the item above them to deposit in the sink. When they do decide to wash the dishes by hand, most of the time they don’t do much washing. It’s mostly playing with the water, but it’s all part of the learning process. We then wipe their placemats and table. I will then dump out the water in the sink (that is if they used it) and wipe down the area.

Kaida, our dog, will join to help clean up (during meals she will be in our room, downstairs, or outdoors). I will move their table, which is light enough that the girls are able to push, and use the sweeper to help Kaida. The girls may come and help, but most of the time they just watch. After we are finished, the table and chairs are moved back. We also put an activity back on the table. This prevents table climbing and is an invitation to work.

We may dry our dishes and put them away, on their kitchen shelves, or let them air dry and put them away later. Meals are far from quick, but there is so much order and practice going on.

Since I began this post, E and V have begun taking over and assisting with more and more of the meal preparation and following steps. With this being the case, I’m in the process of creating a DIY that will help with steps.

What do meal preparations look like in your home?

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