How to Teach Independence to your Toddler and Pre-School Grandchildren with the Learning Tower
For those of us grandmas with toddlers and/or pre-schoolers, I want to suggest something you might want to have in the kitchen or perhaps give as a gift to the mom or grandmother to be. It’s called a learning tower. It’s basically a safe platform that your toddler can stand on to bring them up to counter height, allowing them to engage in your activities to make them feel confident and included. These towers are safer than a traditional step stool and because they have a safety bar around the platform, your little one won’t fall off (they do require adult supervision since the child is not strapped in). Most are also adjustable so they can begin using it starting around 18 months, or whenever they can walk and stand without falling.
Sometimes, these are referred to as Montessori Learning Towers. Maria Montessori was an Italian scientist and educator who believed that children learn in a safe environment where they can partake in everyday “hands on” activities, such as preparing food. My two children went to a Montessori school back in the 90s and I can attest to the value of this way of learning and how independent it made my kids feel. According to the Montessori method, children need to have a free, but safe, way to learn on their own and gain experience. This device is a perfect way to teach them to wash their hands, wash fruits and vegetables, stir and mix food, and even roll out dough and make cookies. After they’re finished, you can teach them to wipe the counter and rinse and wash dishes! After all, it’s better to teach them to do the dishes while they still think it’s fun. Hopefully, it will become a habit before the tween years hit and the eye-rolling begins. It does require some patience as little hands tend to be messy, but who is better than Grandma, in that area?
There are many brands, models and price ranges available on Amazon. In fact, I found this one for only $70.
If you want something a little cuter, and highly rated, you may want to try this foldable one by Guidecraft for $200.
If you or Grandpa like to craft, you can even make your own. There are YouTube videos (this is a DIY Ikea hack) and online guides to buy the wood and put one together on your own. I can’t think of a better way to teach your grandchild to be independent then showing them how to craft something rather than buying. You will be modeling Montessori learning and providing a family heirloom to be passed down at the same time.
Another place to check is a children's consignment store or your local Facebook marketplace for a bargain price. My daughter-in-law found a $200 one on Facebook Marketplace for $50.
If you want to learn more about the tower, I suggest this helpful website post from www.TheTot.com. If you like the idea of the Montessori Method, here are a few other items for your little helper to try in the kitchen. These wooden knives, mini rolling pins, and complete cooking and baking set are a good place to start.
I follow Bobby Parrish of FlavCity on Facebook (FlavCity) and Instagram (flavcity). He is a healthy chef who teaches about clean ingredients and has his adorable two-year-old daughter, Rose, help him on his cooking videos. You can also find him at www.flavcity.com. He even has a really cute video of his little girl doing her chores.
I hope these tips and a learning tower will help you enjoy kitchen time with your little one!