On Knives, Needles and Glasses

“Remove anything that could hurt a child – dangerous sewing needles, sharp knives, breakable glasses.”  This is the instinct of many caregivers, in order to keep our children safe.  But is this really the best way to protect our children?  Obviously none of us wants to see our children hurt.  But Montessori believed true safety comes from educating and empowering our youngsters, so that they are in control and can use dangerous tools confidently, without fear.


Reports prove that our children are currently growing up with increasingly high degrees of anxiety, having little trust in their own abilities, believing they need to rely on adults for everything – from cutting their food to choosing their college courses!   Fear comes from believing one has no control over the perceived danger.  When used with skill, tools contribute to self-confidence and self-esteem.


This is our purpose in teaching our children to sew, prepare fruit and vegetable snacks, and drink out of breakable glasses.  When first used, they are very closely supervised, but once they have learned correct use, they are trusted to work with more distant supervision.  Yes, there will be the occasional finger prick with a needle, nick with a knife (always keep your fingers above the knife), or broken glass (keep it away from the edge of the table).  But like all mistakes in the Montessori classroom, children learn from them, and little hurts bring teacher comfort and reassurance that they can do it better next time.   Each lesson brings more confidence and empowerment.  We have observed impressive progress in our little ones’ abilities, in the few weeks that we have re-introduced snack preparation and water glasses use.  The resulting enthusiasm and pride in accomplishment makes the band-aids worth it!


Let’s ensure we are giving our children opportunities to feel in control of their experiences and environment, and give them messages of confidence in their capabilities.


~ The Roots & Wings Team