One thing I always loved about working at the Montessori school was how tidy and well behaved the children were at meal time. I knew I wanted to work on this with my own kids some day and here are some of the ways we’ve done that.
Ever since J could sit at the table we’ve been working with him on keeping his space clean. He’s been wiping his spot since he was about 8 months old and now he has a drawer right next to his spot with towels and he cleans his spot and face without being reminded to do so.
Above is a photo of the place setting mat I made for him. He can set his own place and likes to bring his utensils, drink and food to the table himself.
I got him a small pitcher that holds about 4oz and he pours his own drinks at meal time. We never used a sippy cup, he’s been drinking from a glass since about 10 months old and pours his own milk or water at meal time.
He likes to use a knife to cut his own food as well.
We let him use condiments with assistance and he LOVES ketchup and butter!
Sometimes he prays for our meal, other times he folds his hands and prays with us.
J is responsible for taking care of his dishes after a meal too and usually helps me do the dishes as well. He is also responsible for helping to unload the dishwasher.
Every other day he also helps wipe down his chair and sweep the floor under his spot at the table.
People often think babies aren’t capable of doing much independently or helping out but J’s been doing all these things for about a year now!! Allowing your baby and toddler more freedom at meal times will reduce melt downs.