You might as well call Montessori the ultimate buzzword in education. It’s like the food equivalent of calling something “artisanal” or “hand-crafted.” People hear it and they want it. Even if they don’t necessarily understand what it is. Parents will shell out for tuition if the word “Montessori” is in the school’s title. But just like taking a loaf of regular old white bread and slapping the label “hand-crafted, artisanal” on it, you can’t just call anything Montessori.
When people hear the term Montessori they assume it’s just about little kids meandering around a room doing crafts or creative things. While creativity is a large part of the philosophy behind this type of learning, the driving focus is really about teaching little ones to be independent and confident in their independence. And what better way to teach confidence and independence at home than at mealtime?
Luckily, even if you’re a SAHM mom like me (who is lightyears away from being able to afford a fancy Montessori preschool) you can still employ these simple little “hacks” around your home to encourage independence in your toddler or preschooler.
Side Note: If you’re interested in reading more about this method of education, you can do so here.
Easy Montessori Hacks Anyone Can Do
One universal truth about toddlers is they want it and they want it now – and wouldn’t it be wonderful if whatever “it” is they could just get it themselves? A basic hallmark of Montessori-style learning is little kids being able to do something themselves without having to ask an adult for help. This skill not only promotes independence, it also fosters self-confidence which can (and will) be a huge plus later in life.
First step: get your toddler a sturdy step stool. Ours in the picture below was a lucky find by my mother-in-law at Homegoods, but you can easily order one (like this) on Amazon. My husband put non-skid stickable pads on the bottom so it wouldn’t slide when Harper climbs it.
We keep ours permanently next to our breakfast bench so she can climb up and get herself into her booster seat. We use this easy-to-clean booster seat. Instead of attaching the tray, she just eats at the table like a “big girl” – as she says.
This has become one of her favorite things to do at mealtimes. She climbs her “stairs” as she calls it, and gets herself into her seat and even demands that she does her buckle herself. I know, when did my little baby get so big? Single tear. At first she had a tough time doing the buckle, but with minimal interference and maximum encouragement on our part, she figured it out in no time.
Now, this isn’t to say you need to have miniature step stools all over your house so your toddler can get into everything, but pick one place where you think they would really feel like a “big kid” and try placing it there and teaching them when and how to use it.
Why are toddlers bottomless pits when it comes to eating? Harper pretty much eats from the moment she gets up until it’s lights out.
Here are a couple of clever ways to make snacktime more Montessori (aka independence-building) friendly.
A favorite phrase of toddlers everywhere is “I do it!” – can you blame them? They’re big kids now! And they want to do it themselves. Especially when they live in a world of “no” – being able to say yes sometimes feels really good for both you and your little one.
Here are a couple of independence-boosting snacktime ideas.
- Toddler Tasting Trays – I love this simple, doable idea from fellow mom blogger (and educator) Meg, over at The Many Little Joys.Photo Credit: The Many Little Joys
Toddlers are naturally curious and sometimes naturally picky. One of the cornerstones of a Montessori-style education is teaching little ones by letting them choose from a set of options with minimal guidance from an adult. This easy snack solution speaks to that on so many levels!
- Snack Pods – these probably aren’t a revelation for most of us, but now you can feel even better knowing that this no-spill snack tool can also help bolster your toddler’s self-confidence. I’ve tried a few different brands, and these are my favorite!
- Squeeze Pouches – when toddlers can master the motor skill of squeezing the food out of the pouch without squeezing it all over themselves, this is a great no-mom-required snack (except for cap removal). Harper loves to take her GoGo Squeez into her playroom and just happily feed herself while playing. Winning all around.
- Within Reach – I have seen so many amazing ideas on Pinterest for storing a little toddler snack bin on a lower level of the pantry – just a simple dollar store basket that they can take healthy snacks from when the mood strikes. The only thing (or things) keeping me from trying this one out are two little curious fuzzy creatures named Charlie and Lady…
So there you have it – super easy (and super doable) Montessori hacks anyone can do! Have any ideas to contribute? Share in the comments below!
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