What child is not naturally curious? Every parent is amazed at how quickly they learn, and how they discover the world for themselves, right? They are a machine for absorbing what they see and hear. And everyday life, practical things are something they are most attracted to. In that sense, the benefits of a learning tower are maximum, since they will be able to do it by themselves, and help their parents in some tasks while having fun; since the Montessori Method proposes to provide them with an environment suitable to their abilities, their height since it is their “third teacher” in life.
You’ve probably seen many influencers sharing photos on social networks in which their children are cooking with them in a kind of wooden castle. Learning towers are a useful tool (although not the only one) to encourage children’s autonomy and prepare the environment of our home for their height.
What are learning towers and from what age to use them?
So that we understand each other: it is the substitute for the chair that we used to take when we were children to reach toilets and worktops. The big difference is that the learning tower has ‘barriers’ on the sides that make it a safe step because the child can no longer fall. Normally, its design allows them to climb up and down on their own, so it is an element that gives them a lot of autonomy.
One of the bases on which the Montessori method is based is to encourage children’s autonomy, so it is a resource that is often used, although we cannot limit the learning tower to this parenting philosophy.
When can the learning tower be used with our son or daughter?
As soon as the child is walking with some degree of ease. This is the moment when their little hands are free and eager to explore, discover and do useful things. Therefore, it would be a good time to integrate them, for example, in the kitchen and the learning tower will make the task easier, giving us peace of mind and security. Ideally, children should start with short, simple actions: stirring, washing fruit, sprinkling spices, and kneading.
Is it necessary to have a learning tower at home?
Not at all. The only thing necessary in a home is presence, trust, respect, and good humour. The rest is always secondary. Sometimes, we ourselves create fictitious needs: ‘if my child had this, it would surely help them a lot with their autonomy…’. What helps them most with their autonomy is that as parents we give them time and trust. After all, in time, children will work their way up to the top.
However, having a prepared environment at home (as recommended by Montessori, among others) that allows children to do everyday tasks on their own will be a great help in fostering their autonomy. Obviously, if in order to wash his hands every day he has to go to the living room to fetch a chair and drag it down a 15-meter-long corridor, this will be an added difficulty. To give an example: if you are told that to learn to climb stairs you have to walk with one leg, you are likely to get discouraged and stop trying, thinking that it is too difficult a challenge.
Having a child-friendly environment where their things are accessible, visible, and tidy is the most tangible way of sending the message that they are valuable and useful.
To reach worktops and sinks, any step will do. What is true is that body control and balance develop over time, so it is easier for them to fall off those steps, which is where the main advantage of the learning tower lies: it gives them security.
What are the benefits of a Montessori learning tower for children?
A learning tower is a didactic resource of the methodology, whose use is more applied to practical life and is, therefore, an indispensable tool for parents who apply the Montessori method at home.
- Autonomy. This is one of the main objectives of all Montessori Method furniture and teaching materials. In other words, the aim is for children to be able to carry out everyday activities on their own so that they can develop their abilities and talents and learn along the way while discovering the world for themselves. In this aspect, the Montessori towers will allow them to reach high places on their own, such as the dining table, mum or dad’s desk, the sink to brush themselves, or the kitchen counter to help with the washing up, to prepare a delicious cake, or simply to learn about the textures and flavours of food. The possibilities are endless when you have a learning tower at home.
- Sharing with parents. This is one of the main advantages of this educational resource of the Montessori philosophy. As they arrive on their own, without needing to be encouraged or marked by the parents, the child will be able to share experiences that bring parents and children closer together. For example, preparing a delicious dessert, while experimenting with the ingredients; or preparing the child’s favourite dinner together. These are all unique and enriching experiences that shape children’s brains and directly affect their self-esteem and emotional and social intelligence.
- Fun. There are no words to describe how happy parents are to see their children smiling as they pour their hearts out, concentrating and focusing on a task. Of course, when you are doing something with them, don’t be pigeon-holed into doing it one way, but allow them to let their imagination run wild and create – there are no better things for the brain!
- Learning. All of the above leads them to learn at their own pace, and according to their abilities, about many things from everyday life and enriching experiences. In addition, the child will be able to choose for him/herself what he/she wants to do and what he/she wants to learn about.
- Sensory learning. Having contact with many materials from everyday life, and sharing them with parents will help them to develop their senses in a wonderful way.
- Freedom. Freedom to move around and to decide what to learn and when to do it because to reach the height of the table or the kitchen, he no longer needs an adult – he can do it himself!
- Sense of self-esteem and ability. Being able to do things on his own, leaves the programming in his brain, or neuron synapses, that he is capable of doing things, that he can do them, and that if he keeps trying he can achieve them. It develops perseverance, and self-esteem to be able to stick it out when you fail, and get up and keep trying.