I’m one of those people with a DIY board on Pinterest who’s never actually picked up a hammer to DIY anything. But when I saw this IKEA Hack I thought it was such a great idea… so I put someone else onto it. So my friend’s partner made me (and her) a Learning Tower.
What’s a learning tower?
It’s a simple stool, designed so that kids can stand up on it themselves into a safe space, putting them at the right height to access kitchen counters, sinks, etc. I believe it comes out of Montessori education and these bad boys typically retail for several hundreds of dollars. Ours set us back $20. I’m going to give it a fun paint job.
So why is something so simple so revolutionary?
Ok, if you’ve never had a toddler, let me paint you a picture of what it’s like trying to make dinner or wash the dishes. Now is the time that every item in every drawer and cupboard must be carefully emptied out onto your kitchen floor. Inevitably a jar of jam is going to get broken while you’re in the middle of sauteeing garlic. And of course your toddler has turned the oven knobs up while you were sweeping up shard of glass, so enjoy that burnt garlic fragrance for the rest of the night. Now that your floor has become a minefield of tinned tomato cans, tea towels and measuring cups you’ve got a tiny maniac pulling at your skirt yelling “Up, mummy!” on repeat about 75 times. You’ve managed to balance her on your hip and even mastered the art of one-handed tomato chopping but realise you need to open the oven. So you finally succumb and pull up “In the Night Garden” on YouTube realising it’s the only way dinner is getting on the table tonight.
But now? Now Luella can climb up to see what I’m doing. I set her up with her own little chopping board and a butter knife and let her go to town on some mushrooms or play with a whisk and some mixing bowls. She loves being able to see what mum and dad are doing, naming all the ingredients and “helping” prepare the meal.
It’s not just about sanity-saving, it’s giving her a chance to be involved, a learning opportunity instead of pacifying her with screen time, developing her confidence and letting her play at being like the grown-ups. (I’m also hoping that getting involved in making meals will encourage her to eat a wider variety of foods, but we’ll see how that goes.)
Toddlers get a bad rep, and truth be told we just came down off what I’m calling “the week of 1000 tantrums”. But so much of what can be seen as “misbehaviour” is simply them expressing their need to learn to do things on their own, to be heard and taken seriously, to let them prove themselves.
The Learning Tower was such a big reminder of this to me and I’d recommend it to anyone.