by Angie Heck
Children plus glass seems like a recipe for disaster. If we can mitigate the danger to our children by limiting their access to it, why wouldn’t we?
On the other hand, when we don’t allow children to use items made of glass or ceramic, could we be endangering them more by not teaching them how to handle these breakable items?
The Montessori classroom uses objects like glass plates and ceramic bowls whenever possible. This isn’t meant to endanger children, but rather to teach them how to handle these items with care and respect.
So do things ever break?
Not often. First off, adults and older children are role models for younger children just learning to handle glass and ceramic. They always carry a glass plate with two hands, walk slowly and carefully and only carry one item at a time. Younger children learn from their environment in this way.
Secondly, a child inherently feels the difference in weight and heft between a glass plate and a paper plate. While it’s tempting (and easy) to throw a plastic cup off of the table, a child understands that glass is different by virtue of its characteristics.
Lastly, using glass and ceramic just like mom, dad, and big brother/sister is a responsibility that the young child will treasure. Imagine a family dinner where everyone is eating off of fine china but you get served on a plastic plate. It wouldn’t seem fair, would it? The young child is able to understand that.
Try using more breakable objects at home! Start with a very thick glass plate, small like a dessert size, that your child can use for daily meals. For drinks, again, try to find a thick glass that won’t be likely to break even if it’s dropped. If you’re worried about family heirlooms, simply take a trip to the thrift store to find a few items you don’t have to worry about breaking.
As you introduce these items, make sure to prepare your child by speaking positively about the move to glass or ceramic, “I have a new plate for you, and it’s very special.” or “These plates are made of glass, so this is how we must hold them.”
Watch as your child begins to take on the new responsibilities entrusted to them with the use of breakable materials, how exciting!
Angie Heck is the Head of Community at Montessorium. She currently resides in Seoul, South Korea.