I started with the kitchen where we seem to spend the majority of our time each day. Pre-Montessori, both of my children used highchairs for meals, coloring, and other potentially messy activities. Now, they have the option to dine on their own small table and they love it. I wasn’t too sure about setting up a separate table for them because I prefer that the whole family eats together at the same table. So now we change it up… when it’s just the three of us I sometimes pull up a little chair and join them for meals. Once my husband is home, the kids usually eat at their table while dad and I eat at the regular table not far from them. We’ve kept the highchairs around so they sometimes still use them when they feel like sitting next to mom and dad. Where they eat, is up to them.
There have been other changes in the kitchen. Instead of it being “mom’s kitchen”, it became “our kitchen”. CC and RJ now help with what they can. Depending on the menu, they may help me with meal preparation and they are very good about clearing the table when they are done eating. They now have their own drawer in the kitchen which stores their dishes and utensils. Below is a picture of CC and RJ getting items out of their drawer. They usually ask me what we will be eating to determine if they will need a plate or bowl and a fork or spoon.
Here is a close up of CC and RJ’s drawer. I know the plastic dishes aren’t very montessorian. I have been shopping around for new dishes for them, but have not found the right ones just yet.
Another small but important addition to the kitchen are two prayer frames. The kids and I include prayer throughout our day. In the kitchen, for example, we have our Morning Player and our Mealtime Prayer. The mealtime prayer frame can be seen on the picture of the kids’ dining table. CC and RJ can’t read yet but having the frame next to the table reminds us to pray before our meals. Below is a close up of our Morning Prayer frame.
You might be thinking that the kitchen is an odd location for a morning prayer. I used to try to remember to pray with my children when waking up in the morning. However, CC and RJ don’t always wake up at the same time and praying is something that I want us to do together, plus some mornings can be hectic and we would often forget. The kitchen, however, is where we have breakfast every day. The first thing I do when we walk into our kitchen is open the blinds to the kitchen window, so that is where I placed the Morning Prayer frame.
Starting our Montessori journey hasn’t only made changes to our environment. I feel that it is also improving my parenting style. I have a better understanding of CC and RJ’s developmental stages and how they see the world. We follow more of a structured daily routine and I have slowed down the pace of our days to better suit the pace of my children. I’ve always tried to do this but now I am more consistent about it. I am also taking the time to teach them to do more things for themselves. I take advantage of the many learning opportunities that present themselves throughout our days. I’ve learned that they are always watching me and learning from me, therefore, I must do my best to set a good example for them at all times. I remind myself that I am not raising children for the moment; I am raising children that will one day become independent adults. Gosh, what a great responsibility!