2 year old E. squeezes the oranges for freshly squeezed orange juice. Yum!
Category Archives: 2 years +
Yvonne’s daughter’s were busy last weekend doing a special art project together.
4 year old E. uses her knowledge from school to make the shapes of the continents using colour dye. Can you recognize South America and Asia?
Yvonne gives a presentation to 2 year old H. on how to use a spray bottle to spread the colour dye.
A lovely tye-dye shirt for Father’s day!
My daughter is already 22 months old and I’m realizing it’s so much work to prepare her environment at home. I’m not trying to make a perfect environment for her. I make minimum effort otherwise I will be a stressed, fussy mom leaving my every day’s house work behind.
There are some points I always follow in order to make a Montessori environment for her independence and development.
1. Follow your child’s orderly sense
Children in this age group are nourished and made secure by the order of things. Therefore, we need to prepare an environment for the child that demonstrates order and structure in action. Experiences of order assist her in developing her will. “What, when, and where” provide the opportunities for these expectations and the structure and opportunity for limits and discipline. We want to make it clear to the child in her daily life: what to expect, when to expect it, and where to expect it.
2. Share your work at home with your child
When you are cleaning, washing dishes, folding clothes etc…. please share your work with your child as long as she is interested so the child feels that she is involved and she is no longer a baby who needs somebody’s help. Children need to experience work in collaboration with adults for it to have an educational purpose. Once the child has started her work, encourage her to complete her work. The child needs to repeat the process for perfection. Once the child feels that she is capable, she gains self-confidence and self-esteem. Eventually, the child learns concentration, patience, logical sequence, responsibility and independence through work.
3. Organize her environment
Let your child know where her belongings are to help your child develop her orderly sense. All her belongings have to be accessible for her. Toddlers can dress themselves. If she wet her shirt, just ask her to bring a clean shirt and dress herself. Ask her to put her dirty shirt in the laundry basket. When you are going out, the child can go get her jacket and hat and put her shoes on by herself. You just need to tell her directions and help her to do it by herself.
If your child has art materials like drawing and gluing, let the child know where the paper is so she doesn’t need to ask parents to get more paper.
4. Follow the child’s routine
The child needs consistency of schedule and routines for the child to understand what is expected of her. (Schedule of mealtimes, naps, activity, and sleep) This can assist her orderly sense. It is beneficial that parents read to your child every night before bed.
5. Let your child prepare her snack
Yes, your child will make a mess. But everybody loves this activity. If you feed your child apples, bananas, avocados or mandarin oranges, just prepare a set of food materials (a tray, chopping board, butter knife, apron, tongs, small dishes, etc.) Let the child peel the food and slice it. Once she slices it, use the tongs to move the food to the dish)
If she spills, encourage her to wipe it up by herself. If an adult cleans it for her, she doesn’t care when she spills or drops her food. The child needs to be aware that there is cause and effect. If she spills, she needs to wipe it. The child experiences the logical consequence of order. The awareness of herself and her environment is the purpose of accomplishing a task.
For children to develop confidence in their own abilities, they have to be helped to care for themselves independently just as soon as they are able. Try not to look at efficiency or speed, the focus is on process and on the repetition and practice that are required to work toward perfection in all processes.
Warm greeting to everyone, how are everyone doing this week? How was the weekend? Have you shared your experience with observation on our post or with a family member or a friend? How were the “Observe the needs of your child individually” sessions go? I am excited to find out what you have watched, listened, noticed and made notes of. I hope it was as rewarding for you as it was for me. Were you able to apply and translate the needs of your child into Individual Attention? Now that you have had a chance to Observe your child and to give them some Individual Attention; it is time for us to discuss how children of different ages work together in harmony.
Many parents have asked me the following question when they are exploring the idea of putting their children in a Montessori Environment. They asked, “why do you have children of different ages in the same classroom, isn’t it hard for the children and doesn’t that lead to a chaotic classroom, isn’t it much easier as a teacher to have a class of children of the same age?” From my many years spent in a Montessori classroom I have confirmed that the answer to all those questions is “no”.
I have observed that children have a natural need to nurture others and lead others. They need each other. A child of two and half to three years old look up to a child who is five years old for comfort and familiarity when he or she goes to the Montessori classroom for the very first time. The child who is five and soon to be six years old shows the ability to care for his or her young friend, because he or she has been through that first day experience. It is such a beautiful image seeing them holding hands with each other as the young child slowly stops crying and begins to smile; as the older child feel confident in his or herself and proud of what he or she has accomplish to the caring of others.
Parents, isn’t it wonderful that you have that opportunity to observe this nurturing tendency within your own family when you have more then one child? Yes, it is not always a picture perfect moment when there is sibling conflict, but we are all learning to paint that picture perfect moment more often everyday with our children. Why do we as parents need to give our children the Individual Attention? It is because it is only after we know our child’s individual needs that we are able to group them together in harmony.
Group activities for children to participate as a family
- After they have their individual attention, we maybe able to find out each child’s unique gift and abilities. For example, E. and H. love to do a lot of cooking and baking in the kitchen. Depending on the menu we have come up with together, E. is contributing her ability at home by pealing the carrots, cutting the mushrooms, and marinate meats with gloves on. On the other hand H. wants to learn and contribute to the family as well. She loves water so she is able to contribute by washing vegetables and fruits. Some other activities that they can do together are to both help to do some preparation with the vegetables. It could be a very simple dish with different layers of difficulties to meet the individual child’s need.
- Suggestions for Activities to do with your individual child (please keep in mind of their daily routines and age abilities)
- Have a nature walk together and talk about what each other has observed?
- Have a cooking session. Have fun making lunch or dinner such as personalized pizza, tortilla, sushi bento, Vietnamese wrap.
- Have a car wash.
- Help to clean the house such as wiping the table, chairs, windows and mirrors. They can also wipe/mop the floor if the child is able to do so.
- Doing laundry together. Have the older child hold the garment bag and the younger child put the dirty clothes into the garment bag. Depending on the ability of the child, they can zip up the garment bag and help put it into the washing machine.
- Help to clean their room by folding their own clothes or by putting the hanger on the clothes.
- Make a surprise project for someone such as Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas.
- Make a grocery list with your children and have a fun trip at the market.
- Have a book reading session and give each child the chance to express what they have learnt from the book they read together.
- Plan a trip together. Ask your child to see what they need. Depending on the ability of your child, the older child can come up and write a list of things they need for the trip and they younger child can help put the items in the suitcase.
Enjoy your time learning from you children
- The key word of everything I have shared is to enjoy, enjoy and enjoy it. The joy of learning will only be experienced in our lives and the lives of our children when it is fun and enjoyable. The positive mechanism can come out more easily through having fun with what we are experiencing and learning. Moreover, our precious little one needs us to send positive thoughts and messages of encouragement as they continue to explore life on their own. Life is not always fair, but we can change that with a great attitude towards life. Always be positive with whatever the journey ahead of you takes you.
A special note for the mothers who are reading our post, I want to encourage you and remind myself; you are a wonderful individual who is able to do all things. Just don’t forget to take a moment to breath and smile as your child looks up to you as role model for life.
Now I have shared what OIGE stands for enjoy life, enjoy your discovery of your children. Happy sharing everyone!
Warm greeting to everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! It is a tradition in our family to count our blessings during Thanksgiving. I am especially thankful that I have two precious daughters that God has given me to take care of.
When they were born, our family and friend’s said they looked like their father. As they continue to grow, people are saying E. looks like a mini me and H. looks like my husband. In fact the grandparents sometimes have difficult time telling them a part by their voice, as they sounded almost identical. But did I give birth to a set of identical twins? The answer is no and even identical twins are individually made with their own set of distinctions and uniqueness. Every child is being shaped since the beginning of being conceived. E. is nearly four years old and H. is a year and half now. They are similar, but yet very different individuals. The question is how can we help them to be uniquely their own individuals and yet teach them to love each other as siblings from the same family? I made an acronym called OIGE. In the first half of my sharing, I will like to invite you to do try “O” and “I” for about two weeks. After two weeks I will have another post to share what “G” and “E” stand for.
Observe the needs of your child individually
- As a Montessori teacher, it is part of our training to learn how to observe. Do you do people watching when you are at a café? When I do these exercises I imaging myself as a private detective trying to find clues through my observation skills. Could you give it a try and maybe you will find out a new skill within you. What does it mean to observe? Here are some of activities I engage in when I do my observation.
- It is very hard to slow down and quite ourselves down to watch as our culture does not allow us to do that. But when we do it can be very rewarding. For today how about setting aside five minutes of your time, quite down, sit down on the side beside your child and see how your child leads you in that five minutes. Make sure in these precious five minutes that you do not have your cell phone, computer or anything that can take your attention away. Then as you get use to the idea of observation, you may slowly increase the time as your own family time allows you.
- As you watch your precious one interact with you or with other siblings take the time to just listen. It is a special skill to just listen and try to understand your child.
- As you watch and listen, your child will lead you to another stage of excitement which will make you notice something that you may not have noticed before. But or after watching and listening it confirms what you have in your mind.
- Make Note
- Now after you watch, listen and notice; you can write in a notebook or put it on your cell phone or computer what you have observed each time. When you write it down, it helps you to process what is on your mind. It could be as simple as giving thanks to have the time to observe your child or details about your concerns about your child.
- How can we have an interlocking relationship with our children? Think back, when you were dating your significant others or spending time with your best friend, how much time did you spend together? Maybe you were like me wanting to be with each other as much your time allows you. It is because of spending quality time together, you are able to know one another, understand one another. Spending quality time with each child it is just as important as your marry relationship. You want to build that special parents and child relationship since they are place in your family. You want to also build a trust between the child and you. Your child treasures those special times/moments you have with them.
- Suggestions for Activities to do with your individual child (please keep in mind of their daily routines and age abilities)
- Lunch date with just mother or father.
- Going to parent and child class together such as creative movement class, a pottery or a clay painting class for children.
- Going to concert together.
- Have a nature walk.
- Going to library.
- Spend time to do homework together if need it depends on the child’s age.
- Watch a sport’s game together.
- Do volunteer work around your community.
- Special activity planned for individual child with individual attention when other children are not around. Such as making a craft project, learning about the planets.
- Have a special project that is over a period of time together such as planting the flowers in the garden and see it grow or have a recycle challenge.
I am excited to hear what you have discover in the next two weeks after you have a chance to try to do some observation and learn the special gift that each child has in your family. Are you excited? I am, I am learning everyday to find out what skills my children have within them so I can help to foster that inner gift and help them to achieve what they have never discover. Happy sharing everyone!
Some of our blog’s readers expressed interest reading about clothing; since I love talking about movement I thought it would be interesting to share a paper I wrote a while ago when taking my Assistant to Infancy training. I also wanted to see if my ideas had changed after I had a baby, to my surprised I feel exactly the same way as I did before.
Maria Montessori explained that Humans have a tendency for movement. Indeed this movement begins in the womb, (humans have an inclination, a need, a strong desire to move and explore, movement is hardwired into them, and they are born with it.) Babies, in fact, spend nearly half of their waking time moving, either kicking, bouncing, or waving their arms, crawling, standing, etc. While it may appear all this activity is just for the sake of moving, it’s important to realize a baby is never “just moving” or “just playing.” Every action extends the child’s development in some way, this movement could be voluntary or involuntary, it doesn’t really matter they need to move in order to continuing wiring their brain. Repetition of movement is one of the keys for healthy brain development.
“In order to develop his mind a child must have objects in his environment which he can hear and see. Since he must develop himself through his movement, through the work of his hands, he has need of objects with which he can work that provide motivation for his activity.” (Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, pg. 82)
Thanks to new insights in brain research, we now know that early movement experiences are considered essential to the neural stimulation (the “use-it-or-lose-it” principle involved in the keeping or pruning of brain cells) needed for healthy brain development.
Not long ago, neuroscientists believed that the structure of a human brain was genetically determined at birth. They now realize that although the main “circuits” are “prewired” (for such functions as breathing and the heartbeat), the experiences that fill each child’s days are what actually determine the brain’s ultimate design and the nature and extent of that child’s adult capabilities.
Neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford, in her book, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head, states: “Physical movement, from earliest infancy and throughout our lives, plays an important role in the creation of nerve cell networks which are actually the essence of learning.” She then goes on to relate how movement, because it activates the neural wiring throughout the body, makes the entire body not just the brain the instrument of learning.
“…the development of movement is found to be connected with sight. The first step in movement is that of grasping or prehension; as soon as the hand grasps something, consciousness is called to the hand, and prehension is developed, that which was at first instinctive becoming a conscious movement. At six months it is fully intentional. At ten months, observation of the environment has awakened the interest of the child, and he wants to catch hold of everything, so prehension is now accompanies by desire. He begins to exercise the hand by changing the places of things around him, by opening and shutting doors, pulling out drawers, putting stoppers in bottles, and so on. Through these exercises, he acquires ability.” (Maria Montessori, Education for a New World, pg. 42)
What else does movement do? Movement contributes to children’s fine and gross motor development, builds physical strength and stamina, enhances perceptual motor skills, attention span, improves circulation, and helps maintain muscle tone and thus postural control, etc. Now we know all the things infants and children are missing when they are being held by the adult or being confined in a crib, play pen, bouncer, car seat, carrier, stroller, bouncer, walker, exersaucer, or something as simple as wearing the clothing that restricts their movement.
Restriction of Movement
Continual restriction of a child’s movement may have negative consequences for the child’s motor and cognitive and emotional development in later years. For instance if the baby cannot crawl to the toy she or he sees across the room, s/he tent to forget about it. If s/he forgets about it, s/he cannot explore its shape, texture and shape. In short if s/he cannot physically explore something, then s/he is not engaging his/her mind to learn about it. Children cannot take the information from the environment just by looking at it. In order to absorb information, young children need to hear, look, at, move toward, touch, and feel all the various stimuli. Maria Montessori called the child during the first three years of life “The Sensorial Explorer”
Tara Losquadro writes in her book Why Motor Skills Matter, “When parents provide an environment full of possibilities and understand the basic principles of physical development, they can enhance their child’s gross and fine motor skills and his speech development, among other things, In turn; these enhancements benefit the child’s emotional well-being and the development of higher self-esteem. With higher self-esteem comes a greater ability to take charge of situations, and to thus feel more secure.” We need to provide them with different sensorial experiences always remembering to provide the right amount of stimuli, never too much because this would cause over stimulation.
Still, recent evidence indicates that infants are spending upward a large amount of waking hours a week in things like high chairs, carriers, car seats. The reasons for this trend are varied. From what I have observed, part of the problem is that infants in some childcare centers; where there may not be enough space to let babies roam the floor. Or, given the number of infants enrolled, there may be little opportunity for caregivers to spend one-on-one time with each baby. This means, in the morning, an infant is typically fed, dressed, and then carried to the automobile, where she’s placed in a car seat. She’s then carried into the childcare center, where she may spend much of her time in a crib or playpen. At the end of the day, she’s picked up, placed again into the car seat, and carried back into the house, where she’s fed, bathed, and put to bed.
Clothing: Why is clothing so important when babies or toddlers move?
Clothing may restrict the child’s movement when extending his/her arm, practicing batting, reaching movements, crawling, walking and movement in general, even lessening the child’s desire to move. The child when moving a specific part of his/her body is being restrained by a piece of material, and s/he assimilates that piece of material as his/her own ability to extend his/her limbs, or his/her own ability to move. It’s important that we choose clothing for our children that is comfortable to wear, appropriate to the environment they will be in, age appropriate and designed to accommodate their greatest variety of movement. It must also be the right size. Hand me downs can be great but if they are too big or too small they might thwart the natural movement of the child or encourage bad habits and posture. A friend gave me an example of this when she was looking after a 7 year old. The pants were too big, always falling down, the boy consistently pulled them up, tripped over them, underwear exposed, etc. He is a very active child and has the necessity to move. Wearing this type of clothing can be dangerous and also draw continuous or negative attention from adults; because of these inadequacies his self-esteem and desire to move may be affected.
What is it that parents look for when buying baby clothes? Is it appearance; is it durability, aesthetics, price, brands, trends, fabrics, fashion, personal style or all of the above?
I have only one request for you, when looking for baby clothing try to image yourself in that specific piece of clothing and think how functional or practical it is going to be wearing that piece of garment all day long, including visits to the bathroom. See if it feels comfortable when moving arms, legs, stretching, bending, crawling, etc. If it is too tight or too loose, that you may fall down if you step on it, is it easy to put it on and take it off, how long would it take for you to put it on and take it off, what kind of clothing aids in freedom of movement (this is if we want to encourage independence in toddlers). Young children like to be independent and try to dress and undress independently, don’t kill the desire to do it by buying clothes with complicated fastenings. Try to use clothing that is easy to slip on, pull in and out and stretches when take it off.
Remember people who make baby clothes are not necessarily childhood development specialist; they are designing clothes that catches the eye of the adult, so next time you go baby clothing shopping take into consideration the importance of movement development and its consequences. What is more important, being in style or being able to move?
My Experience with my Daughter
Here are some pictures of F wearing clothing that in my opinion allows her to move freely. I love seeing my daughter in little dresses but she can’t really crawl or move in them, so I’ve decided to wait until she is older to wear them if she wants to. If she really has to wear a dress for a special occasion (e.g. wedding) I tuck the dress in her pants so she doesn’t trip when crawling or pulling to stand up.
Warm greeting to everyone, how’s everyone’s week so far? I hope you are all enjoying your adventure with your little one. I had the privilege of taking the Assistants to Infancy course when I was pregnant with our first daughter E. for the first summer of our training. I was witnessing what I learnt in action when we did our prenatal timeline chart. I was eighteen weeks pregnant; I felt for the first time a little bubble with E. when she made her first interaction with me during my pregnancy. During our training, we learnt that the first six weeks of their life after they are born is very important to make a strong bond with your child. I used the first six weeks to have intimate time with her to guide her, care for her and talking to her about the new world around her.
With my ethnic background as Asian, I have set in mind when I have my own children, I will be passing on the Mandarin language to my children while my husband, A. speak Cantonese to our children. Furthermore, during our training, we learnt to have intensive conversations with them. I have made a simple tune for each of my daughters. I started singing the song to them since my pregnancy. Furthermore, I found out after they were born that this is one of the tools I can use to calm them down. It helped assure them that they are safe and I am here for them and with them.
When E. was about two months old. I decided to annunciate the Alphabets with their phonetic sounds. I saw E.’s face light up as she study intensively as I pronounce each sound. I can also saw E. was trying her hardest to communicate with me by moving her mouth and making cooing sound. We continued to communicate this way for the next couple months. On our Second Wedding Anniversary date when she was eight month old, she called “mama” looking at me intensively and with meaning. Some parents use sign language as a tool to communicate with their child. I also tried that with E. However, I suggest you follow your child’s developmental stage. For E., I introduced two signs to her, but she was making up her own way of communicating with me with her own consistent made up sign of her own. Furthermore, every time she was making those signs, she was telling me exactly what she want me to know by words. Therefore, I did not continue more sign language with her as she was showing me the urge to communicate with me starting with two words, then four words then it continue to evolve. She continues to learn how to speak in Mandarin, Cantonese and now English as she is enrolled in an English speaking Montessori preschool. It was amazing to see her continue to gain vocabularies each day. Moreover, she knows to switch to speak to me in Mandarin and Cantonese with A.
When H. was born, I continued to use the same method with her in her language development, but I have keep in mind to not to have any preconceive idea of how H. should be with her language development as she is another individual human being with her own set of developmental agenda. I also make sure, E. and H. has the equal rights to speak for themselves instead of having E. speak for H.
As the second child in the family, H. learns to speak from all of us including her own older sister E. She started communicating with us and sang songs like her sister. H. has the urge to be heard and her rights to be understood. Therefore, her language skills took a roller coaster ride starting from eight months old. She also developed the skill of able to switching the language “’channel” in her own mind. For example, one sunny afternoon, we were at my sister in-law’s house having a great afternoon; one of the ladies who have not seen H. for over a year and she said to her “wow you have grown so much into a little beautiful girl”. H. was a year and four month old. She replied to her all on her own in English “thank you”. I was as surprised as everyone there as she was not formally introduce to the English language, but her absorbent mind like the sponge was helping to take in all the information around her world in everyway possible.
As I have mentioned before and strongly believe; follow the child, your own child and take in all the information you gather, but see what your child can do in his and her own time as they are all uniquely created individuals. Happy sharing everyone.
Admitted that the child is born with the sense of hearing, so that he hears the human voice, why among the millions of sounds surrounding him does he pick out those only for imitation? It is because human language has made a special impression on the sub-conscious mind, evoking an intensity of feeling, an enthusiasm, able to set in vibration invisible fibres for the reproduction of those sounds, while others cause no such living thrill. So exact is the child’s absorption of this language is that it forms part of his psychic personality and is called his mother-tongue. ~Maria Montessori, “Education for a New World”
When my daughter was still an infant, I could never imagine that she would ever become a child with the “terrible twos” since she was a happy and gentle child. When she became around 15 months, she started to have a strong “will” and show aggressiveness. I was so shocked when she tried to hit me, talk back to me and refuse to do anything. I guess it is a typical stage for her age. She is struggling to express herself when she does not yet have the words and wants to assert her independence.
I always deal with this stage in my toddler classroom but it’s so hard for me when it’s my own child because I tend to get more emotional. I try to be calm and not to get upset. I try to explain what she did and that makes me feel sad. Building a reasoning mind is important for this stage. When your child doesn’t want to do something you ask, please explain why it’s important to do it. Here are some tips that may help when you encounter difficult situations with your child.
“The child needs to move freely within the environment so that he may gain independence. Although the child is still young, she requires clear and consistent limits.”
For example, when the child is asked “Would you like to have a cucumber or carrot?” If the child chooses carrots, she needs to try it. “Would you like to go to the potty by yourself or do you want me to take you there?” If the child doesn’t want to go, you will take the child. If your child doesn’t want to hold your hand on the street, “Would you like to hold my hand or would you like to sit in the stroller?”
- The limits need to be consistent so the child gets a clear idea.
- We always need to be clear why we are doing that for the child.
- Giving real options allows the child to experience logical consequences. For instance if you were to say “If you don’t put your shoes on now, I will go shopping without you, but realistically you can’t go out without your child.” A real option would be to say, “We need to go out now. You can put your shoes on or I will put them on for you.”
- Set the limit in the relationship for the child and the other children’s safety.
- If you know the child will answer “No” don’t ask the question. For example, “Would you like to go to the washroom after drawing?” The child might say “No” so provide specific direction instead such as “Go to the washroom after drawing.”
- If the child is not playing with the blocks properly, then distract or entice the child with another activity. Prepare an alternative such as, “Let’s do this puzzle. We’ll put your blocks away.”
- Always acknowledge positive and good behavior of the child. “You put your toys away all by yourself. You did it.”
- Limit the use of negative words. For example, instead of saying “Don’t run. Don’t touch,” say “Walk quietly in the house.” “That is dangerous, so use this instead.” State the affirmative of what the child can do.
- Become the role model for the child.
“The child’s liberty should have as its limit interests of the group to which he belongs. Its form should consist in what we call good breeding and behaviour. We should therefore prevent a child from doing anything which may offend or hurt others, or which is impolite or unbecoming. But everything else, every act that can be useful in any way whatever, may be expressed. It should not only be permitted but it should also be observed by the teacher. This is essential. From his scientific training, a teacher should acquire not only an ability but also an interest in observing natural phenomena. In our system he should be much more passive than active, and his passivity should be compounded of an anxious scientific curiously and a respect for the phenomena which he wishes to observe. It is imperative that a teacher understand and appreciate his position as an observer.” Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori
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