|Jack pours himself a drink.|
|Maybe a little too much of a drink.|
|But, oh it is so good!|
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?