Kid Kitchen Cabinets 101: inspired by Montessori methods
For those of you who like the Montessori methods of education…. please, keep reading! For those of you who have never heard of this, but would like just a few more minutes of sanity during your day….please, keep reading! For those of you looking to have your children help out with more chores…please, keep reading! For those of you looking to have your kids eat healthier foods…please, keep reading!
Kid Kitchen Cabinets 101: Inspired by Montessori learning
As a Nurse who worked in Trauma for so long, I am all about safety and household prevention like keeping anything harmful out of a child’s reach. I am also very invested in healthy living patterns, such as offering a variety of healthy choices as snacks and meals. As a teacher with a Masters in Elementary Education, I have also been influenced by the teachings of the Montessori method, and we implement many of these practices. If you are not familiar with the Montessori method, I have posted a link below for you to learn more. Scroll down to read.
We implement Montessori methods in much of our family life, including daily chores. I have a 7, 4, and 1 year old. They each actually all have routine chores. The 1 year old “delivers” items we ask her to throughout the day. She thinks it is amazingly fun and yet it can be helpful for me. The 4 year old has a HUGELY important job. After every single meal we eat, she runs, grabs out her mini broom and dust pan, and sweeps UNDER the 1 year old’s high chair. Do you know how much happier this makes my day?!?! She loves doing it! My 7 year old washes dishes, empties the dishwasher, and wipes the table after meals.
BUT it was not helping me very much that all the dishes that needed to be put away in the cabinets were out of her reach. 3 Kids x 6 meals a day = A LOT OF DISHES!!!!! I wanted to streamline this process. I also did not like that the kids could not complete the entire process on their own, but were needing to rely on me to finish their work. I wanted them to gain their own pride and accomplishment on their own.
My 7 and 4 year Littles are also very independent and could make many of their own meals if the supplies they needed were within reach. They really enjoy participating and initiating many of the meals they eat.
I had already redone their bedrooms using Montessori methods, and we loved the result. I wanted to apply the same to my kitchen. So after asking myself a billion times, why don’t I just switch the cabinets around, I finally JUST DID IT!
I am SO happy with the result.
First, I knelt down and viewed the kitchen from my daughters’ view. I thought about what they would need to be more independent and how to safely give them that independence (and me a few more moments).
Why was I storing all the pots and pans at the prime time spot? I stored those elsewhere. Instead, I put the kids plates, cups, utensils, napkins, and prep bowls down low. My 4 year old also washes all the fruits and vegetables during meal prep. So her strainer and bowl are now in her reach.
(**Side note: If you have kids your hot water temp should be set much LOWER so they cannot get a scalding burn by turning on the hot water – look into that if you have not already. Ok, sorry, back to the post.)
I also made a kid friendly meal cabinet low and within reach. WHAT?! Joy, THAT’S CRAZY! They will bust into that cabinet and eat everything all day and make a mess!! Really? That thought crossed my mind. And then I thought about it some more. Would I have liked to learn self-control, discipline, healthy eating patterns, and the belief that food is for fuel and not for cravings, as a child or as an adult? I want to instill healthy eating and living patterns in my children so that it is just a part of who we all are. We do not buy processed snacks, we make most things at home, and we eat about 6 times per day. So having healthy foods within my children’s reach benefits us all. They help prepare for each other and themselves. They ask me first if they can prepare a snack or meal, I provide supervision, and they go for it! This has created a huge sense of self-esteem, healthy eating choices, communication patterns, and some really yummy memories.
Here are some examples of items I place into my children’s cupboards:
Their bowls, plates, utensils, cups, cloth napkins.
Their cooking needs: measuring cups, spoons, bowls, strainers, whisk.
Meal Cupboard: (I pour the items into small containers with sealing lids once a week)
Refrigerator: They also have a shelf in the refrigerator they may access once they ask. In the fridge we regularly keep healthy items that they can prepare into a meal such as:
Fruits (strawberries, plums, peaches, whatever is in season)
Vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, celery sticks, sweet peppers, potatoes)
Coconut milk / lactose free milk
Whatever baking item we have made such as granola bars, fruit leathers, etc.
Why did I begin Kid Kitchen Cabinets?
The benefit to incorporating Montessori methods in the kitchen is that 1) my kids can initiate and be involved in cooking and eating healthy meals with FUN, 2) they can do their own prep and clean up with supervision, 3) gain independence and self-confidence, 4) develop healthy eating and responsibility as part of their daily life, 5) they can streamline chores and they are a huge help to me!
For example, tonight I was tired and my kids asked if they could make me dinner in their “restaurant”. I watched and supervised, but truly was sitting down and actually relaxing. I keep vegetables prepped and chopped in the fridge. They could reach all the safe items they needed, and they tossed a salad up for me with lettuce, peppers, avocado, feta, seeds, cucumbers, and pear salad dressing!! Not bad for a 4 and 7 year old! It was delicious and they were extremely proud when I thanked them for their kindness towards me, as well as when I encouraged their healthy food choices. They were very proud accomplishing this for the first time and it made my day!
I am VERY GLAD I decided to reorganize my kitchen and incorporate some Kid Kitchen Cabinets. So far, it has worked out really well for us!
* Disclaimer: I saw way too many burns and injuries that could have been prevented working as a nurse in the trauma hospital. This blog post is my personal experience and not to be taken as safety instructions or advice. Always supervise children in the kitchen. Any knives, sharp or hazardous items need to be kept out of reach. Check your water temperatures and adjust if you have kids. A child can be burned within 2 seconds if your water is set too hot. See reference post here. Appliances, stoves, heating devices, and sharp objects should not be used by children. Use safety rules when having children help, and always supervise them. Child-proofing your Kitchen and supervising your children can prevent fatal injuries and horrible burns. Educate yourself on the dangers and safe practices of your kitchen and supervise your children.
That being said, I am glad I finally made my Kid Kitchen Cabinets!
We are all benefiting from the transition! ~ Joy
Are you wanting to learn more about Montessori Education and how you can place some of the methods in your own home? Here is a video worth watching that introduces it to you.
Is there something you have changed around at your home that has made learning and living a bit more fun? Tell me about it! ~ Joy