"How does he achieve this independence? He does it by means of a continuous activity. How does he become free? By means of constant effort. …we know that development results from activity. The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." (The Absorbent Mind, by Dr. Maria Montessori)
Kara, our 2 year and 2 month old daughter, is one adventurous child. A couple of months ago, we caught her using a stool to be able to reach the door knob and get out of her room.
As much as I'm very proud to see how resourceful she is, I was also concerned with her safety which of course is the top priority in a Prepared Environment.
We began our search for a Learning Tower here in the Philippines. The problem here is that quality Montessori-inspired furniture and materials are extremely difficult to find. I just happen to have all these software tools to "socially listen" to any keyword or hashtag and get notified for posts and that's how I found out about Metrofurne Manila.
WHAT IS A CONVERTIBLE LEARNING TOWER?
These days, furniture is designed to sell, and not to last and this is why I was glad to meet Glen, the woman entrepreneur behind Metrofurne. She was different and passionate about her work. I loved how she was able to make me feel that she focuses on the relationship with her clients over making it transactional. I discussed our needs and she showed us some prototypes of the learning tower.
What I love about the design they have is that it is perfect for parents who want to save both on cost and on space (we may need to move to our condo for some time once our home gets renovated and space will become a concern). The learning tower actually converts into a desk with chair and no assembly is required. It has safety locks on the side to keep it secure when used as a tower.
HOW TO USE THE CONVERTIBLE LEARNING TOWER?
The learning tower can be used from 18 months up to Age 4 or 5 years old (depending on the child's height and weight). This is the stage that Montessori calls the "Absorbent Mind" because the child effortlessly takes in, or absorbs, sensory information and experiences from the environment.
Remember that the baby needs to explore and experience the world directly, through her senses, in order to develop as nature guides her to do. More importantly, she needs to be present and a part of the normal, everyday life around her. Her family must provide safe limits to her environment to facilitate her growing independence and exploration. The little child needs freedom to move and touse her hands to explore. She needs a rich environment because she absorbs everything around her through her senses. She needs opportunities for communication and exposure to language. She needs to be able to exercise simple choices and have opportunities to act for herself.
With the learning tower, we were able to provide a safe way for her to perform activities independently and participate more in our everyday life. Kara was able to:
Learn how to climb in and out safely
Learn about food preparation (from washing fruits and vegetables, to slicing bananas, to spreading Arla on bread)
Wash her hands using the adult sink
Brush her teeth using the adult sink
Help wash the dishes
Mix ingredients in a bowl
Get food from the dining table
Get water for her plant
Feed Norman the 2nd (her pet fish)
Pour her own cereal
Make "bubbles" in the basin by the sink
do her artwork (when converted into a desk with chair)
eat on her own table independently
We always have an adult within arm's reach whenever Kara uses this since she is still mastering the different ways she can use it (P.S. this is made of solid wood but she has managed to push and pull it to do the activities I outlined above... reaching her MAXIMUM EFFORT as we say in Montessori).
Making things accessible to the child is one way to develop a capable, confident, and independent person. There are plenty of contraptions out there but I find this tool the most economic (learning tower + desk + chair in one) and ergonomic (beautifully designed with safety in mind). Plus, Glen is such a doll to deal with (I am very excited to see the front-facing bookshelf that she also made for Kara!)
You can visit my Instagram account to see more videos and photos of Kara using this :)
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