As kids grow more independent, a step stool can become essential around the house. A huge part of Montessori in the home is making everyday tasks accessible to the child. Even though we try to create work areas that are down at the child’s level (such as low shelves and a low table and chair), step stools are still needed for toddlers and preschool-aged children to be able to reach to work in the kitchen counter, wash their hands in the bathroom sink, and to use the “big” toilet independently.
What is the Montessori Tower?
Briefly, we commented that the learning tower is a wooden tower that allows the child to reach higher surfaces safely. Although it is most commonly used in the kitchen area, it can also be used to reach the dining table or to brush teeth in the bathroom. This kind of highchair offers no risk, as it protects the child from falling while leaving them free to perform tasks.
Why is the learning tower known as a Montessori tower?
As explained, the learning tower is inspired by the method, but it was not a tool thought up by Maria Montessori herself. She thought of materials that completely adapted the environment to the height of the child as much as possible. The tower, on the contrary, elevates the child, making it easier to reach environments suitable for adults.
We must think, however, that it is an excellent tool for the promotion of the child’s autonomy and independence. And, of course, it adapts to today’s reality. We live in houses with less space and it is almost impossible to adapt all environments to the height of the child. In this sense, if you have an adequate space, the tower allows the child to actively participate in the tasks without having to create other spaces for them.
On the internet, especially on networks like Instagram, it is common to see Montessori families who live in large houses that adapt the environment for the children. They take advantage of toy kitchens and fridges and turn them into a mini kitchen. They also put on a table so they can have their meals.
In particular, the learning tower is a more economical option to all this and has a feature that delights us: it helps to strengthen the bond between family members. The child can participate in the whole process and is in contact with the family at all times. Everyone integrates into the environment and feels an active participant in the family dynamic.
What can the child do using the Montessori Tower?
The Montessori learning tower is one of the most interesting products to put the child in contact with different practical life activities. As it has access to the kitchen countertop, it acquires autonomy and independence from a very early age. By being at the height of the kitchen table and sink, they can become responsible for picking, cleaning, peeling, and cutting their food.
What is the difference to a chair or a step stool?
The chair raises smaller babies to the level of the bench, but it is not safe because babies can fall. Step stools, on the other hand, only work for older children and can replace learning towers. But some children, at 3 years old, are not yet big enough to reach the bench with a step. The Montessori learning tower can be started as early as 15-18 months, as long as the baby has mastered walking and is tall enough to stand on the bars and there is no risk of falling backwards.
For what age is the Montessori tower recommended?
There is no fixed age to start. It is recommended from 18-20 months when the baby already has the agility to climb the tower independently. It is at this stage that babies are developing their motor skills. They love climbing up and down stairs, climbing, getting into holes, and getting out of holes? The tower can be used until a child is 3 or 4 years old. It depends on the height of the kitchen counter and also the height of the child. There are also 3×1 towers that can be transformed into a chair for the child to sit and eat.
How to choose the best step stool?
So, while toddler step stools can be found in most big box stores as well as many departments and specialty stores, it is important to do a little research before purchasing to be sure to get the right fit for your child and space. Here are a few items to keep in mind:
- How tall are your kitchen counters? We have found that most stools out there are much too short for the average toddler when it comes to working comfortably at the kitchen counter.
- How old/tall is your child? Children as young as 10-12 months (and even younger) who are steady on their feet can use a stool to reach the counter if it is tall enough. Learning towers are a good choice for children of this age for safety.
- How much floor space is available? While some stools or learning towers can be nice, they often take up lots of space. Take a look and perhaps measure before making a big purchase.
- Can my child use this particular model safely and independently? Inspect stools if you can. Test them to be sure they won’t teeter. Consider your child’s abilities and be sure that whatever you find will suit their skills and provide maximum opportunity for independence.
- Stability or maneuverability? Some stools you’ll want your child to be able to move from one place to another. Others you’ll want to be steady (non-movable). For a very young child, you may want more stability (rubber pads) at first and then eventually more maneuverability (remove the pads).