Our nurseries follow the Montessori ethos and one aspect of this ethos is that children are treated with respect and trust. We believe children are more than capable of handling china and glass with the care needed.
Are there breakages? Of course, but each time a child learns how to adjust the way they handle the china or glass object. They learn that there are consequences if the item is not handled with care and how we tidy the breakages up carefully. Children learn through experience how to be careful, if we only provide them with plastic items they have no idea plates, cups and bowls can smash. It's not a big deal if there is a breakage, it's just a plate or cup that both adults and children break sometimes.
We have some wonderful china bowls and jugs which we use for our planned Montessori activities and vases to arrange flowers in, the disscusions and language as a result of using these attractive items is amazing. The children point out the patterns, colours or pictures they can see and share their delight with the adults who support the language acquisition further by asking open ended questions.
So why not give it a try? How much nicer is it for us going to a restaurant using china and glass compared to one using plastic? I would suggest a chunky glass or cup which is of appropriate size to the child's hand. Recycling is a fantastic concept and there is often cheap cups and plates to be found in a charity shop. Why not give it a go?