Montessori is all about self directed learning. Mealtime is a great opportunity for encouraging this sort of learning and watching your child's confidence build as a result.
One super easy way to start this process is by using Montessori inspired place mats. We bought wonderful reversible place mats from this Etsy store.
Now, our two year old helps us set the table. He takes pride in helping us and in setting the table properly. We were having snack time outside of the house the other day. The adult in charge placed his cup off center and my son politely said, “No, right here,” and then placed it properly on his mat.
Keep in mind that in order for your child to use this place mat, you must keep the mat and all the goods that go along with it (plates, cups, etc) in a drawer or cabinet easily accessible to him. This change was implemented a few weeks ago at our home. Not only can he help set the table but he can help put (his) dishes, cups, etc away after a meal and dish washing. As with most learning activities, the transformation does not happen over night but it will happen. I admit, too, that there are some days when setting the table myself is easier and quicker. So be prepared for that tug and pull. Have patience and strength in yourself too!
The result is brilliant and, at times, unbelievable. Give it a try.
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