Monday, August 13, 2012

Montessori at Home... with Shot Glasses?!?

The other day, I was browsing some pictures from May when I ran across a sequence of photos I took of Jack during our Mix and Match GFCF Chocolate Cake taste testing. I had forgotten I had taken them and they made me smile.

Jack pours himself a drink.
Maybe a little too much of a drink.
But, oh it is so good!
In these photos, you may note that in Jack is drinking out of a shot glass.   I know that this may seem like a rather odd choice:  a generally teetotaler family gives their toddler a shot glass to drink from?  What gives?

An affinity for Montessori, that’s what.

In Montessorian schools and home, you are much more likely to find real glasses being used than sippy cups.   Why?

Glassware in Montessori

Maria Montessori believed in offering children the privilege of caring for real, beautiful objects as a part of developing their aesthetic senses.  Glass is far more authentic and beautiful than plastic, don’t you think?

Now, I hear you:  “But what about when it breaks?  That’s not beautiful, is it?”  

Well, that all depends on your view of beauty.  If a broken glass or two brings a child to a place of responsibility and control of movement, such occurrences can be quite striking.  When given glasses from a very early age, children soon discover that they must be careful.  If they throw a glass on the ground, it can break.  If they want to continue drinking, they have to maintain control of movement.  Before long, they begin handling glasses with pride and care.  (I have three children that evidence this.  Sure, there are still sometimes broken glasses around here, but accidents happen and children learn.  I am okay with that!)

So why shot glasses?

Maria Montessori understood that young children learn through imitation.  When they see what the adults around them are doing, they want to do the similarly.  At the table, we can honor such wishes by providing opportunities for children to drink from open glasses just like we do.  For, indeed, drinking from an open cup is a big deal for little ones.  

As children master  the skill of drinking from “real glasses” their self-worth grows.  When given “real glasses” sized for their little hands to be successful with, that confidence grows even more quickly.

Give your child a tall glass.  It might be difficult to move it to the right angle to drink successfully from it.  Try a shorter juice glass.  It could be hard for a little hand to wrap around.  Offer a shorter, narrower glass?  Now, we’re talking success.  Make it a shot glass.  Now we are also talking parental prudence.

The child can easily manipulate a shot glass while mastering the skills of drinking from an open cup.  He can also experiment with how spills happen without the spills being too large. 

Further, if raucous adults can accidentally drop shot glasses on a bar floor to have them miraculously bounce more often than not, can’t a child drop one from the weaning table (or even kitchen table) without as much worry about breakage?  Yes, shot glasses will break – but not every time.  So, while they still provide children opportunities to learn about natural consequences and control of movement, they do so without demanding so much clean up!

I speak from experience here.

When Luke, now six, was transitioning to a cup, I decided to “go Montessori” with it by keeping open glasses in the mix.  But, since Luke was (and still is!) a child who needs to test everything, I realized I needed rather durable glasses if we were both to survive the learning period without much injury or insanity.  So, I put a request out on our local Freecycle list asking for family friendly shot glasses -- ones without words or artwork on them that I would not want my children asking about.   

One  kind woman offered us five or six shot glasses and, believe it or not, most of these have been through all three children's open-cup transition without breaking!

What are your favorite “real” and “beautiful” meal time objects to use with your young ones?


The Monko said...

this is a great idea. We have been teaching our son to pour his own drinks but we usually use plastic cups, I will try him on shot glasses i think he'll enjoy it

Anu Ganesh said...

Ditto as the previous commenter! I have always used plastic/stainless steel glasses till now. Will start using glasswares from now on!

Isil Simsek said...

We also use shot glassesas I don't like the idea of drinking from plastic.They are great for little hands!

Deb Chitwood said...

I always loved shot glasses for Montessori work. Great post on how well they work at home, Martianne! Thanks for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page:

Randalin @ Harvesting Kale said...

A shot glass is a great idea for this! Genius!

Randalin @ Harvesting Kale said...

Using a shot glass is a great idea for this! Genius :)

Personalized Shot Glass said...

Yes, it was really a good idea to teach your kids on how to handle a glass while drinking, but at first let them use a drinking glass or shot glass that made of plastic instead of made of glass for their safety.


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