It’s easy to get caught up in fancy Montessori stations. Like remodeled IKEA play kitchens with running water and wallpaper in a self-serve snack station. But the fact is, with Montessori, fancy is not necessary.
There is more behind snack stations (or any station for that matter) besides allowing your child full access to the things within their station. This is exactly what we be talk about on our Montessori Monday LIVE Show. (P.S. If you want to actually catch these LIVE be sure to join my free, Facebook group here.)
So if you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to give your child access to a self-serve snack station (or any station) listen to the video below and keep reading!
Remember, the focus of Montessori at home is practicing Montessori principles and mindsets. But there are so many wonderful Montessori aligned items out there, that it can be so easy to get caught up in making areas ‘Pinterest-worthy’ vs. what is simply needed to practice Montessori principles in our homes.
A beautiful environment IS important for both you and your child but ‘beautiful’ translates to decluttered; Not necessarily fancy wallpaper. Having a functional area with running water is GREAT – but don’t get hung up on things like this. Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good?” Practicing Montessori at home is a perfect example of this. Just because your self-serve snack station or Montessori aligned station in your home doesn’t look like it belongs in a parenting magazine, that doesn’t mean that it’s not serving its purpose.
Which leads me to self-serve snack stations; The reason we use self-serve stations in a Montessori home has to do with a few different Montessori mindsets. And truly, no matter what stations you’re setting up in your home, these same principles apply. (If you’re interested in a FREE, 2-day Montessori Station Creation workshop, be sure to head here to get signed up, and keep reading for more details.)
All children have a ‘belonging bucket’ that needs to be filled. They do this by contributing to the family community in some manner, and self-serve snack stations are a wonderful way to do this! They give your child the opportunity to contribute to your family community. Be sure to give them access to their appropriately sized plate, bowl, cup, silverware etc. so they have the opportunity to:
A) Set the table and
B) Have a designated place for their belongings.
It’s important to only provide one of each utensil, they don’t need 10 plates to choose from. Giving your children access to child-sized materials that they can replace in a designated spot, give your child a sense of belonging and community. When they don’t need an adult to help them it give them a sense of independence because they’re contributing. (We’ll talk much more about specific materials to include in Montessori stations in our 2-day workshop happening March 1st!)
Freedom of choice is huge with all children, but especially toddlers. Children go through a developmental stage where they’re seeking independence and want to do everything themselves. They’re also learning the power of ‘no!’ We all know there’s at least a solid year (or more) of ‘no,’ and a way to get around this is to give your children the freedom of choice within stations.
For example, instead of asking them “Do you want a banana?” and giving them the option to say ‘no,’ instead ask them, ‘Do you want an apple or a banana?” This phrasing doesn’t even allow ‘no’ as an answer. Now of course, some children will still say ‘no,’ and that’s okay! You’re at the very least, presenting them with the idea of choice vs. a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
In the self-serve snack station you’re providing freedom of choice by simply putting snacks in the station, instead of asking them what snacks they want. The snacks are just there. But remember, with freedom of choice come boundaries. We call this “freedom of choice within limits.” We can we create boundaries within these stations, by letting them know that whatever is in the station is all that’s available to them. Or telling them they get 1 pitcher of water per day. There are no ‘right’ answers when it comes to what boundaries need to be set. However, whatever boundaries you decide upon, be sure they are clear and consistent so that you’re not discouraged by your child pouring buckets of water all over their self-serve snack station while you’re questioning all of your parenting decisions.
Between the ages of 1 – 3 practical life skills are the ‘work’ that your child WANTS to be doing. Sure, laundry or cooking dinner just feel like chores to us, but to them these things are exciting! And when we include and teach our children with these practical life skills not only does it fill their ‘belonging bucket’ it also ignites that love for learning life skills that will be with them for forever. Practical life skills are such a gift to your child because they’ll be light years ahead when it comes to life skill execution as adults. Practical life skills teach our children to become incredibly independent, but we have to give them the chance to practice them! And a self-serve snack station (or any Montessori station) is a great way to begin these skills.
I know as a new Montessori parent all of these stations can be overwhelming which is exactly why I’ve put together a free, 2-day workshop; The Montessori Creation Station!
We’ll be uncovering how to easily create 5 different functional Montessori stations, in four different areas of your homes. Because Montessori doesn’t stop and start in the playroom. It continues throughout your whole home (and life!)
Don’t worry, I won’t be asking you to #buyallofthethings to make this happen. I want to make sure Montessori is doable for you, no matter how much disposable income you have. We start March 1st, so be sure to get signed up and you’ll also have a chance to win a full scholarship to the montessori learning center. All you have to do is sign up, show up and participate in order to be eligible to win!
So tell me, what Montessori station are you most interested in learning how to set-up?