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In the Kitchen from 12 to 18 Months

Since Montessori emphasizes independence and the importance of practical life, Montessori toddlers are often exceedingly capable individuals. With the right access to opportunities, toddlers can do incredible things in the kitchen, in particular. And, I can list a bunch of skills that young toddlers may be able to do in the kitchen - you can see a list here. Or they may not be able to do all those things, and that's OK too. 

Montessori in the kitchen from 12 to 18 months and the role of exploration and observation

But even with all of these other kitchen activities that toddlers can engage in, I think it's important to remember the two things that young toddlers are often the most interested in - exploration and observation! 


I know I can't be the only parent that has tried to offer opportunities to a young toddler in the kitchen for them to only be interested in banging the tool on the counter or shoving food into their mouth. When this happens, it's always a good reminder for me that exploration is so important at this age. Babies and toddlers with their absorbent minds need to explore their entire world around them. It's through this exploration that they are able to come to know their environment and eventually conquer it. 

Montessori in the kitchen from 12 to 18 months and the role of exploration and observation

This is definitely where Gus is right now! He wants to taste what we are working with, he wants to feel it with his hands, he wants to watch it pour to the floor. Sometimes I can allow that exploration (like with empty pots, or safe food) but sometimes it's not (with unsafe food like raw eggs or sharp tools). But, I still need to keep in mind his desire to explore, put my own feelings aside and allow time for that exploration to happen. 

I know that eventually this exploration will lead to a desire for more purposeful (to me) work. And, whatever his timeline is, is totally alright. 


Then there is observation. Babies and toddlers, with their unconscious absorbent minds, are constantly taking in the world around them. They are always always watching. They want to be near you, to watch you, to listen to you, and see how you navigate kitchen tasks. This can be so hard when you just want to be in the kitchen or get something done quickly. But, it's also so essential to the process. 

Montessori in the kitchen from 12 to 18 months and the role of exploration and observation

Gus too, at 16 months, is in this phase. It can sometimes feel like clinginess. Like he ALWAYS has to be with me. In those moments, it's not easy to remember that this phase will pass and soon he will be making his own cinnamon rolls, eggs, lunch, or whatever. But, in this phase, he must observe. 

Have you noticed the importance of exploration and observation for this age? How have these things shaped your interactions in the kitchen? 

Montessori in the kitchen from 12 to 18 months and the role of exploration and observation

12 Months of Montessori 

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. This month's theme is kitchen! Don't miss these Montessori and Montessori inspired kitchen articles! 

In the Kitchen from 12 to 18 Months | The Kavanaugh Report


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