Are you planning to get a Montessori learning tower for your child? You have come to the right place! We will cover everything that you need to know about before deciding which learning tower in the UK to get.
The first thing that always comes to mind is safety. Be rest assured, this is what learning tower is about – keeping the child safe while they carry out their activities at counter height. There are also important points to consider before deciding which learning tower to get, and we will cover these as well. We will also be answering some of the frequently asked questions – when to start with the learning tower, how will it be used, how long it lasts, and are they safe?
- What is a Montessori learning tower?
- Why choose a Montessori learning tower?
- Choosing the best Montessori learning tower
- How will my toddler or child use the Montessori learning tower?
- When to start with a learning tower, and how long will it be used?
- Are learning towers safe?
What is a Montessori learning tower?
A Montessori learning tower is a useful item that your child can use in the kitchen. Essentially, it is a step stool with a cage on top to prevent falling. It provides the child a safe space to access the kitchen counters and to engage in activities.
Learning tower is popular among the Montessori community as it fosters independence and autonomy. The child can carry out practical life activities in the kitchen by themselves with comfort. This supportive boost helps them gain autonomy as they learn.
Why choose a Montessori learning tower?
While using a chair or a step stool may work as a good alternative, it lacks the safety feature of a learning tower. With that, the child may also feel insecure carrying out their tasks.
The main reason we chose to invest in a learning tower is safety. I wanted my child to be able to concentrate on working with his hands without worrying about his balance. I also did not want to be having to constantly take care of my child, who is standing on a stool. A learning tower gives me peace of mind, while my child can also enjoy more autonomy and confidence.
The second reason is comfort. With a learning tower, children can enjoy being in the kitchen every day and even several times a day. Learning towers brings the child to a perfect height at the kitchen counters. The more comfortable they are, the more they will participate and learn.
To summarize the benefits of a Montessori learning tower for toddlers:
- A supportive and safe environment in the kitchen
- Comfort and ergonomics
- Encourage participation in kitchen practical life skills
- Boost self-confidence
- Foster independence
- Increase bonding session
Choosing the best Montessori learning tower
Learning towers differ from one another by the level of sturdiness, size, features and price.
There are a few points you have to consider when purchasing a Montessori learning tower:
A learning tower with an adjustable platform will extend the life of the stool. It helps to keep the child at counter height to work with comfort while staying safe and secure.
It is important to check the sturdiness and durability of the materials for safety. A few points you may also want to consider are natural waxes and finished, sustainably sourced wood and free from formaldehyde glues.
Space of kitchen or tower size
Consider how much space your kitchen has. Some learning towers are slimmer and fit better in small kitchens. Some others take up more space but have way more movement room for the toddler. There are also foldable options available.
Level of safety vs autonomy
Each Montessori learning towers offer a varying degree of safety. This different level of safety means autonomy as well. Generally, with fewer safety entrapments, your child has more freedom to move in and out. Some learning towers come with adaptable safety rungs and even heights. This allows you to customize the safety and autonomy levels along with your child’s growth.
How much use will it get?
Depending on your family lifestyle, you should also consider how often your family spends time in the kitchen? This will help you to determine how much you want to invest in.
How long you want it to last or be used?
A learning tower can last until your child is 4 – 6 years old, depending on the ability and size of your child. An adjustable learning tower will extend the usage life. If it will be used over the years for multiple children, durability is an extra important point here.
Nowadays, there are a lot of learning towers that come with convertible or add on features. Some can unfold to convert into a toddler table and chair. Others offer add-ons that convert the tower into drawing boards or activity centre. These features, though may be nice to have or fit your family lifestyle, they are not a must.
How will my toddler or child use the Montessori learning tower?
There are many ways your toddler will be using this learning tower. A few commonly ways are:
- Observing. Learning tower gives toddlers the opportunity to get up to eye level with the action in the kitchen. This gives them independence to participate, even if passively, whenever they want to. Not to mention, toddlers learn by absorbing and observing their parents or older siblings at an early stage. This encourages them to participate when they are ready. When my son first started using the learning tower at 11 months, he was mainly just observing.
- Participating. Toddlers can help to cook or bake alongside parents with a learning tower. There are many ways to include them – they can start by peeling the lettuce leaves, or mix the sauces with a small whisk, or help you pound the pestle and mortar and so on. Scooping and pouring is also always a win with them. Just observe and follow your child on what he is interested in learning.
- Washing at the kitchen sink. Children will love to have another opportunity to play with water. But here they are actually learning to participate as a useful member of the household while cleaning. With all the water splashing, it can require extra supervision so that the child does not slip.
- Uses in other areas of the house. I have seen people using the learning tower for a child to get up to the sink in bathrooms. The kids can also use it for other household chores like cleaning windows. They may also use it just to look out the window and observe what’s happening out there.
When to start with a learning tower, and how long will it be used?
Montessori learning tower can be used by children from age 18 months to 5 years old.
Depending on the child’s development, some toddlers start at an earlier stage, but with close supervision. As long they can pull themselves up and stand on their feet, they are ready to use a learning tower.
Depending on the size of the learning tower or the child, some children go on to use the tower until 5 years old. Larger sized learning towers obviously allows an older child to still comfortably climb in and use. Some learning towers also allows adjustable heights and level of safety bars to grow with your child. These can also be used for a long time, though they may be pricier.
My son has also started using the learning tower at 11 months, and at that time he is not even walking yet! He crawled to the learning tower, climbed up the stairs and hoisted himself up to standing at the counter. Always with glee after he achieved it! Of course, initially, he needed help and supervision while going up and down, as he is still mastering his coordination and balance. We never let him go up and down on his own at this young age. He was also always standing at a counter section where he is safe from danger in the kitchen – sharp knives, hot pan etc.
He started using the kitchen learning tower more independently nearer to 18 months old. I still supervised and monitored, but he has gained more autonomy. That was when he also started to take part in helping to cook or bake.
According to Montessori, we should involve our child in practical life activities the moment they are able to or are interested, even if only at a minimal capacity. A learning tower can help to promote that.
Are learning towers safe?
Learning towers a created to be a semi-enclosed stool for toddlers to use at a higher level. It also provides a safe step up for children to get to that height. Children are still being supervised, but the parents can step back a little. This gives the children more independence while providing the parents with more room to work on their tasks.
Keep dangerous items, such as stove top or kitchen knives out of reach of young children. From early on, communicate with your child about these dangers, and at some point, they will be aware of them.
With common sense and some level of supervision, learning towers are a safe way to involve your child in kitchen activities.