Montessori in the Kitchen: For Children with Special Needs

I have a kitchen helper. A very special little helper. Jack really enjoys helping us in the kitchen. All I have to do is take my apron off the hook and he comes running.

When I first reorganised the kitchen to make it accessible to Jack I made a lot of mistakes. I wanted to do it ‘properly’. I was too concerned with emulating other inspiring Montessori kitchens that I didn’t pay attention to whom I was actually creating the space; Jack. I had crockery plates, but Jack couldn’t carry them without tripping and so I carried them for him, I had out glass cups but Jack couldn’t hold it without dropping it so I held it for him. I had this beautiful space but he couldn’t use it, so what was the point?

He wasn’t using the kitchen like I had hoped. He was becoming increasingly frustrated as he so desperately wanted to do things for himself but couldn’t. So I made some changes. Now I have a happy little helper in the kitchen. I swapped the crockery and the glass with plastic. This way when he overbalanced he wouldn’t become distressed when the plate broke. It also meant that when he overshot the bench and the cup fell to the floor he could simply pick it up again. I know Montessori says that crockery and glass teach the child to  be cautious but it didn’t matter how cautious Jack was, he was going to overbalance, the cup was going to fall. So breakable was out, plastic was in.

The food on his shelves in the pantry are all stored in easy to open containers. Jack’s snack containers have a flat bottom so he can focus on opening the container without worrying about spilling the food. His cereal containers are big enough that he can hold it tight with one arm and twist with the other hand. I also put his baking/cooking utensils in plastic baskets so he simply needs to pick up the basket and place it on the bench.

And when he has finished eating, a plastic container on the table helps him to pack things away and after A LOT of practice on his behalf, Jack is now able to climb down from his chair and carry his dishes over to the kitchen sink. Making for one happy and proud little boy. 

 

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11 comments on “Montessori in the Kitchen: For Children with Special Needs”

  1. Elizabeth Beattie

    I am so excited to follow along on your blog. I have twin daughters, one who is autistic. I have just discovered the Montessori way and am really new to it. I am excited to create a space in the kitchen for the girls.

    Warmly,

    Elizabeth

    • An Everyday Story

      Hi Elizabeth, so nice to meet you. It’s so nice to meet other parents with children with special needs. I look forward to getting to know you better.

  2. Kate

    You did a great job! I think it’s so important to take ideas and make them work for you and your kiddos. The fact that he’s gaining independence and has pride in himself are priceless!

  3. mommasylvia

    What you have done for your son is wonderful! A great, well considered plan designed especially for your special little loved one! I love it!

    • An Everyday Story

      Thank you. We are still learning how to best meet Jack’s ever changing needs but I think if he is able to do things with a level of independence happily then the space is working. When there are frustrations then the environment needs to change.

  4. Tamara

    Hello 🙂 I`m so glad I came across your blog! My 2,5 y.o. boy is not autistic but since I`m following the Montessori movement as much as I can – i will use those few ideas you are using in your kitchen. It`s been a while as I`v been wondering how to encourage (or just to make it possible) my son to clear up after himself after he`s eaten! And I love idea with placemats! Many thanks !!! 🙂 P.S. I will pass your link to some of my friends.

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