The kitchen for me has always been the most important room of every home in which I have resided. The center of so many activities, it embodies warmth, love, nourishment, and now, for my son, a place for learning.
We stand together in the kitchen, side by side. I carefully chop onions while he “chops” cloves of garlic with his wooden spoon and cutting board. We assemble the dish together. He pours the ingredients into the bowl. He mixes. He improvises. He adds a little salt here and there, perhaps where salt didn’t really belong. But that doesn’t matter.
He dances with joy when he sees what we have created. I no longer feel the need to explain to him every step of what I’m doing, filling the silence with meaningless words as he tugs at my leg from below, desperately curious to understand the mystery that takes place above him at the kitchen counter. Now we experience this magic together, in the silence, and our experience is shared.
This type of experience has become routine for my inquisitive toddler and me, and the one component that has made this possible is a simple, homemade structure that now stands in our kitchen. This is what is known as a “learning tower,” very appropriately named.
Every parent becomes well aware during the early years of their children’s lives that young children learn a great deal through imitation. As a parent, it is truly incredible to experience this phenomenon on a daily basis.
There is simply no better way for your curious toddler to learn than by observing you and helping you with your daily activities, especially when it comes to chores around the house and preparing food in the kitchen.
This wooden tower has created an environment that nurture his every sense. He watches, tastes, listens, smells, touches, mimics, and explores.
A few minutes spent observing a child in this setting undoubtedly proves that this experience is so much more valuable than plopping a child in front of a lifeless TV screen while you prepare dinner.
Rather than finding another activity to keep your child busy, finding a way to involve your child in household chores is incredibly rewarding for both parent and child. This is one of the most essential and powerful tools in a child’s development, and it is truly the easiest form of involvement and ‘education’ he can have at this stage in his life.
We are peacefully engaged in these activities together. I do, he observes, he mimics, and we do together what must be done.
I will confess, preparing dinner takes a little longer this way. But since he and I are engaged in dinner preparation together, I don’t consider it time wasted. In fact, this is some of the most cherished and valuable time we have together each day.