Does your toddler want to help you in the kitchen but you aren’t sure where to start?
Below I offer three ways to help your little chef thrive in the kitchen using the Montessori Method.
Now I want to put a disclaimer out there. While my daughter can use a knife and cook over a hot stove independently, she is still supervised. I NEVER leave the room while she’s doing this work.
When my daughter turned 1 she became very interested in what was happening in the kitchen. She was constantly hanging on my legs or I would have to wear her in the Ergo to get any cooking done. Which is why I originally thought dinner prep time was the perfect time for her to play independently.
But as the months passed and she became increasingly impatient during any food prep time, I realized she did not have an understanding that food took time to make. She expected it instantaneously. So I thought to myself why not get her involved?
While combing for ideas on Pinterest I stumbled across the blog How We Montessori. Her site is full of useful information on how to foster your child’s independence using the Montessori Method. Most notably, her 1 year old son was cutting a banana with a knife! I literally could not believe it.
After putting the Montessori philosophy into practice in our own home, I am here to tell you friends that it is absolutely possible. With a little patience and guidance, your child can cook independently too!
3 Things Your Toddler Can Do Independently
in the Kitchen
For reference these videos were taken over the past few months when my daughter was 20-23 months of age.
1. Transfer cut fruits and veggies into a bowl.
What to expect:
- All the food might not make it into the bowl! There are plenty of times when my daughter will eat the food. (Of course I don’t give her meat, eggs etc.) It’s all part of the process!
What to expect:
- Your child might get burnt. 🙁 My daughter has touched the hot pan before. I repeatedly told her not to touch it, explained that is was hot and would hurt but she didn’t listen. While that was a horrible experience, she is now much more cautious. If I say “E you’re getting too close to the stove, that will hurt…” she will immediately back off and say “hot hot it burns”.
- Random dance breaks!
3. Cut soft foods with a knife (such as fruits, veggies, cheeses)
What to expect:
- The pieces still might not be as small as you’re comfortable with them eating. You may need to re-cut some pieces yourself.
- They might miss the food completely! It is important to have a sturdy cutting board that doesn’t slide around for this reason.
A Few Tips
1. Talk out the process: Anytime I am modeling how to do something I talk out each step in detail. I am basically like my own personal sportscaster. It might seem silly to talk out loud but trust me it is extremely helpful to your child!
For example, while I am cutting a banana, my dialog goes something like this, “I am going to peel the banana and put the peel in the bowl. We don’t eat that part. Now I am cutting the banana in half. Oops that piece is too big. Let me cut it again. Now I am putting the banana slice on my plate.”
If you notice in the videos my daughter uses my vocabulary simply from listening to me. She says things like ”cut it again”, “this is in half” because those are phrases I use regularly.
2. You should redirect if it seems like they’re about to do something unsafe. For example if her finger is in the way of the knife I will say something like “I notice your finger is in the way, maybe you should use two hands with the wavy knife”.
3. Accept that things will move much slower when your child is helping you. There is no way around that. They are learning new skills which will take time!
Kitchen Tools For A Toddler
Other Helpful Blogs
If you’re interested in learning more about the Montessori Method which is a lovely philosophy on life (not just cooking) here are a few helpful blogs that I frequent regularly. We are only just beginning our journey so these ladies are much more knowledgable then me!
Now go cook a meal with your budding chef and let me know how it goes in the comments!
From my home sweet home to yours,
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