Glass cups? For a baby? You have got to be kidding me!

Maria Montessori taught about the importance of teaching children to do things for themselves.  She also stressed creating a beautiful environment full of beautiful things, often breakable.  She found that if a child was given something fragile, they were more careful with it than something that they could throw around and wouldn’t break.  Yes, glass cups and china plates will get broken by your child but your child will learn a lesson beyond the value of the dishes, he will learn that if he isn’t careful, it gets broken and is gone for good.  A child quickly learns to slow down and do things gently.

I must admit, I was against this at first.  I remember Pumpkin 1 throwing plates and cups on the floor, recently even flinging one on my lap.  I don’t really want to have to clean up glass as well as food and I worry that soon I’ll have a mobile baby that could find a sharp piece that I missed.  At the same time though, what Maria says makes sense.  We give our children all these cheap plastic dishes that look like their toys.  We don’t trust them and so they don’t learn to be careful.  In fact, I only started giving Pumpkin 1 an actual cup rather than a sippy cup this past week.  And she did spill it, in fact she dumped a cup of milk on her head trying to put it on the counter.  But she quickly learned how to use it properly.  She probably could have been using a cup for a long time if I had just let her.  I’m also introducing solids to Pumpkin 2 who is 7 months and I’ve decided to be more “Montessori” about it, so he’s getting a glass cup.

I started off with a trip to the Dollar Store.  For Pumpkin 2 I got some shot glasses which are the perfect size for little hands.  For Pumpkin 1 I got some glass cups, her own small mug, some ceramic bowls (two are Ramkin cups) and a little pitcher (a mini measuring cup).

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Shot glasses – perfect size for babies

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Glass cup and mug for Pumpkin 1

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Ramkin bowls are a great toddler size and so pretty.

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A larger ceramic bowl for cereal.

After I got home I let her experiment with the pitcher and a glass cup.  She loved pouring the water between the two.  It did make a big mess but water is easy to clean up.  I think pouring seems to be a sweet spot in learning for her.  I’m going to try to give her more opportunities to pour.

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She likes pouring herself water and milk to drink in the glass cup.  She liked the little bowls but had a melt down because I used the green one for Pumpkin 2’s food and she decided she wanted it.

For Pumpkin 2, with introducing solids I’m doing a mixture of Baby-led weaning and the Montessori approach.  I don’t have a weaning table so he sits in his high chair.  He hasn’t been too sure what to do with food yet but he’s starting to figure it out.  I’ll put a little food on a spoon and put it close to his mouth and let him take over.  It’s messy but he’s learning to feed himself.  Baby-led weaning is giving the solid food, not purees and letting them feed themselves.  He hasn’t really figured that out yet, we’ll keep trying.  Both my children’s first food was avocado.

And so, we’re on a new and exciting (yet messy) path.

Here is a video of a 9 month old eating and drinking – such independence!

Teach Me To Do It Myself

This is kinda the catch phrase that sums up Montessori, especially for the toddler, preschool and primary years.  How often do we rush in to do something for our children rather than waiting and letting them try for themselves?  How often do we just routinely do things for them without even thinking that maybe they could do it?  How much easier is it to do something ourselves than to teach and wait for our child to do it?  It’s not easy, and even a little scary to let our children be independent, but it’s essential to their development.  I started stepping back with Pumpkin 1 out of necessity.  When Pumpkin 2 was born when she was only 18 months, I couldn’t respond to her as quickly.  I couldn’t hold her hand to help her up the stairs 50 times a day so I just had to let her do things on her own.  And I was surprised.  She was capable.  After reading more about trusting our children on Play at Home Mom blog I started to force myself to step back at the park (just a little bit back 🙂 in catching distance) and see what she could do.  She surprised me again.  She could climb, slide, crawl, all by herself.  And I saw that, in her case, she was cautious when she wasn’t sure of herself and didn’t do things if she felt she couldn’t (I know not every child is like that).  I started showing her how to climb things at the park, rather than just plopping her down at the top.

Now that I’ve started this journey into Montessori I’m looking for more ways to allow her to be independent and to teach her how to do things.  This past week I was emptying the dish washer and Pumpkin 1 wanted to help.  I thought for a minute and then put her kitchen stool over by the utensil drawer, opened it and put the dishwasher utensil tray of clean utensils down on the counter.  I showed her how to put a few in, and then went back to my work.  And she did it!  She put them all away, in the right spot, with just a couple mistakes.  My 2 year old actually helped me with housework.  Yay!  This age is a key time.  At this age helping out and cleaning is fun.  It’s more work right now to teach them, but before you know it, your child will be a help to you.  I hope that by instilling responsibility and organization in her right now, it will stay with her for life (I can hope, right?).

I am finding, the more independent she is, the less meltdowns she has.  Often a tantrum is from frustration, from not being able to control her surroundings.  I also try to not say “no” all the time.  Is it really a big deal if she wants to bring 5 stuffed animals on a walk?  Is it a big deal if she wants to wear a dress up dress to the store?  I have to stop myself, consider why I’m saying no – is it a safety issue?  a mess issue? a time issue?  Then, if I realize my motivation in saying no, I can better judge if I should let it go and let her do whatever it is, or if I can adapt it somehow so that it is less messy, or is safe.  And of course, sometimes I just have to say “no”.

What are some ways you have taught your child to be independent?

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