Food at The Montessori School of Silicon Valley

Practical Life

When Dr. Montessori first opened the original Casa dei Bambini she was intent on creating an environment that would meet all the needs of her students in a classroom setting that closely approximated the warmth and comfort of home.

Children were given the responsibility of caring for this environment so that they would find pride in ownership and be fully invested in the community.

One of the many approaches she instituted was the area we call practical life. Children as young as three years old were taught to sweep, cook, serve meals, clean up, and generally care for themselves as independently as possible.

Each day they tended the garden, prepared their own meals, served them to each other and cleaned up after themselves. Astonished adults came from all over the world to witness the incredible achievements of the first Montessori children.

Over the years, her method has continued, but many of the original ideas have been substantially diluted. It has always been a source of major discussion among the various groups that claim the Montessori name. Montessori philosophy does not limit itself to academic concerns only.

Dr. Montessori is often quoted for her belief that education is for life. Life, as we all know, does not contain itself to the cognitive. Our reality flowers in the human complex, which is at once, physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual. Therefore, as a school, we have the obligation to address all the facets of our humanity.

We are concerned about the child’s life in each of these areas. Just as parents are responsible for the growth and development of their children, we take seriously our responsibility to create and maintain the best possible environment for children so that they may grow into full and complete human beings.

To ignore any area of development would be offering an incomplete educational experience.

Lunch Program: Daily snack in the children’s community

We prepare and serve wholesome, locally grown and mostly organic food and snacks at MSOSV under Lunch Program.  The children pick from our own garden, fruits, vegetables and fresh flowers for the tables.

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The children are part of the process for all food preparation and activities.

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For the morning snack, children assist in the cutting of the fruit, measuring out whole grain crackers and once or twice a week make a special snack such as home-made yogurt, jam, butter, pesto, tortillas, baked bread and more.

 Daily lunch in the children’s community

For lunch, once per week the children participate in a community salad, where everyone brings one vegetable.  The children work together to wash, chop and mix and serve the salad they will all share at lunch time.

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All tables have a vase of fresh flowers and the children set the tables with cloth linens, napkins, glassware, dishes and flatware.  Children bring their lunchbox to the table and empty the contents out onto the plate or bowl.  Food is heated if needed.  Children then wait until everyone is ready to eat.

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The class song or poem is recited and everyone begins to eat together.  The children eat and chat and enjoy their meal time together.  Ample time is allowed for eating.  This calm atmosphere helps children to eat slowly and eat enough.

Clean up time

The children scrape their dishes and rinse off in the dish water.  The dishes are sorted and taken to the kitchen to put in the dishwasher.  The older children will pass through each classroom collecting the composting items as well as assist the younger children to separate waste into marked recycle bins.

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The lunch boxes are put away and the children begin to clean up the lunch tables, floor and prepare classroom for afternoon work.  Some children then lay down for a rest, the others continue to clean the classroom and begin the afternoon work period.

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Why is this so important?

  • Children learn to be confident creative cooks and carry it home.
  • Children practice their academic skills.
  • Pleasant lunchtime atmosphere.
  • Relationships enhanced between children and their peers and children and their teachers.
  • By working together from start to finish real community is practiced every day.
  • Staff sits and eats with the children.
  • Less Waste and trash.
  • Gardening and composting are an extension in order to teach the full cycle.

Everyone benefits! What could be more archetypal than coming together to break bread with each other each and every day?

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