As a former chef involving our children in cooking has always been important to me so I designed and built a Learning Tower for my daughter to bring her up to counter height so she could safely work in the kitchen and we could both be comfortable with her being a part of the process.
Throughout the design process, I realized that there is a lot of information out there about Learning Towers, and I’ve complied what I’ve learned though the research and development of the Franklin+Emily Learning Tower to help fellow parents.
What is a learning tower?
Learning Tower. Montessori Learning Stool. Montessori Kitchen Helper Stool. Toddler Tower.
There are many names and several styles, but the common theme across these items is that they provide young kids and toddlers with a boost, bringing them to counter height so they can safely and comfortably engage in daily activities. They are often adjustable in height and come with varying levels of side supports to prevent your child from falling.
Learning Towers are popular among the Montessori community who believe that children are naturally eager to learn, and are capable of learning through real life experiences in supportive and thoughtfully prepared environments. Learning Towers give young children a supportive boost to explore their creativity, engage in everyday activities and gain autonomy in their learning journey.
Do I need a learning tower?
From our experience as parents, our learning tower really gave our daughter a sense of independence and confidence by providing a safe platform that brought her to counter height and allowed her to engage. Of course, you could use a stool or a kitchen chair, but the height is never ‘just right’. In addition, the added security of the tower sides not only provided her with more comfort but also allowed us to step back a little, giving her space to learn on her own.
How will my toddler use a learning tower?
- Get in on the action. Kids love to be helpful and a part of the team, bringing them up to your level allows them to be part of the action and gives them more ownership over their space and activities.
- Cooking and baking. Most learning towers are found in the kitchen. There are so many activities to involve your children in while in the kitchen, and having them safely at your height allows you more freedom to work with them by your side.
- Helping with daily chores. Sorting and folding laundry, washing and putting away dishes, cleaning windows! My daughter has been cleaning all the mirrors in the house!
- Doing arts and crafts. Giving your little one art projects at counter height can keep them engaged while learning by your side while you work on dinner or other daily activities.
- Splashing in the sink. From all that hand washing they are currently doing to bushing their teeth and washing their face, a toddler tower will bring them up to a comfortable height to gain confidence in doing these activities on their own.
- Observing. Learning towers give toddlers a new vantage point, bringing them to your level (or making them taller than their siblings!) can provide a sense of excitement, independence and confidence.
- Finding that secret stash of Halloween candy. It’s important to remember that although learning towers provide a more secure step up than a stool or kitchen chair, they still require adult supervision, always. Your little one will have access to items that were once out of reach like knives and the hot stove so it’s important to be close by, remove dangerous items if needed and communicate with kids about what they can and cannot do with their new found height and perspective.
Learning Tower Design & Materials.
Adjustability. Having a learning tower with an adjustable platform is very important. This feature extends the life of the stool and provides extra support and security to your child as they grow. Adjusting the platform not only keeps your child at counter height as they grow, but it also keeps the safety strap or frame at a comfortable height so they are safe and secure.
Materials. Not all materials are created equally and it’s important to evaluate what materials are used to produce your toddler tower. Look for brands that use natural waxes and finished and responsibly sourced woods that are free of formaldehyde glues. The Tot is an excellent resource for parents to use as they navigate the world non-toxic finishes and kid safe materials as they vet all their brands and sell only products that pass their thorough safety tests.
Modern design. A learning tower should be a fixture in your home that your child feels encouraged to use often, and finding one that complements the aesthetic of your house can also be a very important factor, balancing functionality with clean modern lines that fit into any home. The more you love the look and design, the more accessible it will be since you won’t be tucking it away in the pantry or laundry room.
What is the best age for a learning tower?
Learning towers are wonderful for kids around 2 years to 6 years of age. Depending on size and the child’s development, many parents start using Montessori toddler towers around 18 months with more close supervision. Many learning towers have adjustable platforms, so you can easily change the platform height as your child grows.
Are learning towers safe?
Learning towers create a stable, partially enclosed stool for toddlers, providing a safe step up. Children will still need to be supervised while using a learning tower, but they do allow parents to step back a little, giving kids more independence and providing parents with the ability to work on tasks along side their kids without feeling like they can’t step away for a minute to grab something from the fridge or pantry.
Many learning towers are foldable or have several sliding parts, so be aware of these pinch points for your child. Our Learning Tower comes fully assembled, providing additional stability and support, it doesn’t fold but from our experience and the feedback from our customers it is in near constant use and does not need to be folded or hidden away.
DIY learning tower, can I just build my own?
Absolutely. If you have the tools, skills and desire there are several DIY Montessori Learning Tower ideas out there. We’ve read about several parents creating on budget, and creating creative toddler kitchen helpers from stools and chairs that they have in their homes.
What are the most important features of the Franklin+Emily Learning Tower?
- It’s a provides a secure step up for kids to get involved.
- It comes fully assembled, adding an additional layer of stability, plus it’s ready to use as soon as your little one opens the box.
- It is adjustable. The platform easily adjusts to 3 heights, 12”, 15”, 18”.
- It’s built with environmentally + kid-friendly finishes. Our waxes and finishes are all natural, and as a Climate Neutral Certified Company, we evaluate all levels of our manufacturing practices and sourcing to ensure they are as environmentally safe as possible.
- They are constructed of CARB2 certified baltic birch plywood, a certification process instituted by the California Air Resources Board to reduce formaldehyde emissions and protect the public from airborne toxic contaminants.
- They are beautiful and functional. With our clean design, our modern learning tower complements the style of every home with it’s clean lines, and vegetable tanned leather safety strap.
- It’s designed and fabricated in the USA and assembled by hand in Brooklyn, NY.