Category Archives: Rubi

Foto Friday: Pouring

22 month old F. pours herself a beverage using her pitcher from Montessori Services

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Child sized tools make a huge difference in a child’s ability to do things independently.  Go enter to WIN a $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE to Montessori Services/For Small Hands and help us celebrate the 1st Anniversary of our blog!

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Filed under 18-24 Months, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Rubi

Foto Friday – Washing a Plant

20 Month old F. washes a plant

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Foto Friday – Peeling Tangerines

In an effort to keep this blog updated regularly we’re starting a new series: Foto Fridays!  As busy moms we don’t always have time to write but we’re always taking photos!  I hope you enjoy today’s first instalment of Foto Friday with 18 Month old F peeling tangerines.

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Setting Limits the Montessori Way

By Rubi

Being a mother is one of the biggest challenges I will ever have.  In my opinion, caring for a tiny human being could be one of the most rewarding things in the world and the most stressful thing at the same time.

Now that F is able to walk everywhere, she doesn’t want to stop (which actually makes me really happy, unlike some other parents who complain about this issue). F is free to move and touch almost everything around the house.

As she grows and gains more confidence she shows her temperament in different ways.  Most of the time she has a hard time understanding that there are things she is not allowed to do such as:

  • Hitting the glass door with her toys or materials
  • Hitting her friends with her  xylophone’s mallet
  • Grabbing the toys from her friend’s hands (Over and over. She follows them and takes or wants whatever the other child has.)
  • Screaming at her friends in the face to get a toy back
  • Walking while eating or drinking

F 10 months and K 6 months

All of those things are really hard to understand for a 14 month old child, who now has her hands free to explore and very little language skills. That being said I strongly believe that it is important to set limits and set up the foundations for care, love and respect.

We are also welcoming her friend K (10 months) into our home and I want F to be respectful and show her positive behaviour. K will stay with us 5 days a week and I want her to have a pleasant experience and feel safe, as well.

When I was working in a primary environment (children 3 to 6), at VMS, I learned that consistency is the main key when you are trying to set up boundaries. For example, sometimes I had to show a child how to tuck in their chair over and over until they internalized the concept. It was such a joy to see that proud child showing their friends how to tuck in a chair in a respectful and loving way. I realized that it was all worth it.

Here are some examples of the way I guide F when she shows behaviour that is not appropriate:

If F is hitting the glass door with a toy, I walk towards her, get to her eye level and calmly say “F No!” I show her how the toy works and give it back to her; if she hits the glass again I gently remove the toy from her hands and say: “It is time to put this toy away, since you are not using it properly” (even if she cries). I make sure to observe if she is hungry, tired, frustrated or just needs attention from Mommy. It is important to remember that a child this age may hit or act this way out of frustration or anger, or just to discover how others will respond if she has this behaviour. Sometimes they need an adult to consistently provide limits until they have internalized their limits and can successfully manage their impulses.

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I like the way Deborah Carlisle Solomon addresses setting limits in her book, Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE Way: “Sometimes a toddler will give a little push to another child who is in her way, and that is the end of it. At other times, it’s plain to see that there is more energy behind the push, it may signal the beginning of more aggression. Then it may be necessary to squat down on their level. Your peaceful presence may be enough to prevent things from escalating…..If one or both children continue trying to hit or push, you may put one hand between them so that it won’t be possible for one child to hit or push the other…… Do your best to set limits clearly and calmly, without judgment or alarm.” (At the beginning when F started hitting I was alarmed and concern. I decided to analyze the situation and go back to do more reading. That made me realize that it is a normal behaviour in a young child and it is up to me to address it properly)

When her friends come over and she consistently takes the toys away from them and they get frustrated and cry. I get F’s attention and say: “F, _____ is playing with the puzzle. You can have something else,” and I give her another option or options. I do not say “you have to share,” since it is important that she understands that another child is using that toy and she can play with the toy as soon as it is available. If the other child doesn’t care that F took the toy away from him/her and moves onto a different toy, I normally say nothing since it is nice to allow them the opportunity to resolve their issues.

When she hits another child I immediately stop her from doing it and give positive attention to the other child and say: “I am sorry F hit you.”  If the child lets me hug him/her then I do it.  F gets upset and wants me to pick her up immediately. I just say: “F you have to touch him/her gently” and show her how to touch her friends.

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F is a loving and a very active child who is learning that there are many things in this world that she is not able to do and that there are some limitations in her environment. She also gets frustrated when this happens and she shows that she is upset, needs attention, or she is tired. She likes to get people’s attention. I just have to show her that she will not get positive attention when she does things that are not safe for her or her friends.

I know I have to be patient and consistent because she will eventually stop hitting and will touch her friends gently.  She will learn how to respect and care for them, as well as respect her toys, materials and environment.

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Discipline, Rubi

Toys for a One Year Old

By Rubi

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The first birthday of a child is a big deal for a parent. There are so many decisions to be made such as the amount of people to be invited, the type of food to be served, and the place to have the party at, etc.  When I finally made all those decisions and planed a big party another issue came up. Some people began to ask me:  what would I like them to give F for her first birthday party? They said could you give us some ideas? They know I like to choose carefully what kind of toys she plays with. Then I started looking for toys that I knew she would like to play with, that were durable, pretty and challenging for her.

I didn’t want to dictate people what to give F for her birthday but I did want to guide them so they had an idea of what she usually plays with.

An important note:  Many of links that I used for this post are from Amazon because it was easy for me to find a link and a picture. I noticed that some toys are more expensive at amazon. I told people to look for them at their different local toy stores and they were cheaper.

Here are some toys that I came up with:

Plan toy solid drum (by hape) 41e2ByuxNNL._SL500_

Dancing butterflies push and pull (by hape)  push and pull toy

Hape first puzzle  71zbJZolilL._AA1500_

Hape twist and turnables  71CcnvkVcUL._AA1500_

Plan toy shape and sort it out  41bd5ggZxzL._SL500_

Plan toys nuts and bolts  41lCGkIqpIL._SL500_

Plan toy stacking tree  61VVABcAReL._AA1500_

Magnetic blocks  (Tegu)5064_TeguOriginalPocketPouch_tints1

Bowling set (Growing Up Wild)  il_570xN.511135449_boju

Leaves puzzle (Manzanita Kids) il_570xN.425983830_tvwd

Nesting doll puzzle (Manzanita Kids) il_570xN.425988436_4vec

Grimms’s Wooden stacking and nesting rainbow bowls   pic of the stacking bowls

Truck  81S5imygMXL._AA1500_

I love this truck because she can place items on the bed of the pick up track  

 

She has these toys and I believe they are great for one year olds.

Xylophone  61nSY1tYO3L._AA1500_

Rocking horse  71VJiJZKwjL._AA1500_

Toddler size Apron  il_570xN.451644488_1ka6

 

Spinning Top original_traditional-tin-spinning-tops

Balls are always fun, so find one that is not too big or hard. A friend got me one that lights up and F absolutely loves it.

 

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Play Area/Toys, Rubi

Communicating with Your Baby

By Rubi

“During his first year, before communication with words is possible, a baby’s only hope of summoning help is to let out a piecing cry. Cry is an ancient alarm call that humans share with many other animals, and it produces a powerful parental response. Amazing baby, Desmond Morris, page, 107

Before babies are able to produce meaningful words they produce different sounds (speech) and find different ways to communicate their needs, wants and feelings. They communicate through crying, bubbling, smiling or body language (movement), etc. F was very determined to communicate from day one and didn’t stop until her needs were met. When she was born she let us know (as every new born does) with different types of cries that she was uncomfortable, overwhelmed, tired, bored, frustrated, lonely and hungry. It took me a long time to identify all the different types of cries, but now I am able to identify when she is in pain, hungry, frustrated, tired, etc. through the different sounds that she emits.

Language as well as movement is a crucial milestone in a baby’s development. It is important to talk to our babies in a respectful, rich, and clear way in order to help them in this process of communication. Language has to be present at all times; it also has to have a correlation with our actions and emotions so the child can be coherent when using language later on in life (means what he or she feels or says).

What is Speech and what is Language? A definition of these two words is given by Patricia McAleer a Language and Speech Therapist.

“Speech refers to the sounds that come out of our mouth and take shape in the form of words” Childhood Speech, Language and Listening Problems, Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi, page 8

“Language refers to the content of what is spoken, written, read, or understood. Language can also be gestural, as when we use body language or sign language. It is categorized into two areas: receptive and expressive” Childhood Speech, Language and Listening Problems, Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi, page 9

Language and physical care

A newborn’s vision is not very developed, yet, he or she has a very strong point of reference, his/her mother’s (father’s) voice which allows him/her to feel secure in this world during the first days of his/her life. While in the bath, hearing mine and her dad’s voice, , was the only way to get F to calm down and relax. Long before the child is able to speak or express him or herself he/she is capable of understanding. From the beginning I began to describe the actions I was performing to her e.g. I am undressing you because I am going to give you a bath (I talk to my daughter in Spanish since it is my mother tongue). In fact our best moments were at the change table, when she would look at my face while I talked to her for a long time, even after she was all dressed I would continue talking to her.

I didn’t do all that talking just because I like to talk a lot, I did it because I strongly believe that she was absorbing all that knowledge even though she wasn’t able to express it at that early stage. Now I am rewarded every time I talk to her and she shows clearly that she understands what I am saying to her for example when I say: I am going to rinse off your hair, please put your head back then she moves her head back or when I say: I am going to brush your hair; she tilts her head forward (most of the time when she is not too busy crawling around). When I say:  It is time to change your diaper; she cries or crawls away because she doesn’t like to get her diaper changed.

Language and the environment

The environment is a rich tool to help our children develop language, since we can relate the words with the objects this helps the child associate complex words with concrete objects. Every time we walk around the house and F wants me to carry her I take advantage of this situation to name things that she cannot see when she is crawling or on the floor playing e.g. “Look, that is a rectangular mirror”  or “Mom is opening the fridge, what do we have in here?” etc. Always taking my time to allow her to absorb what I am saying. When possible I allow her to touch the objects that I am naming, sometimes she smiles, sometimes she just stares at the objects for a long time. Now that she is repeating all kinds of sounds it is interesting to hear very accurate imitations of real words, such as gracias (tastas) Zeus (oosh) our dog’s name. mas (ma) more in Spanish.

Language, books and music

Music and books are very important for language development. There are many elements in music that are involved in language such as rhythm, tone. We sing to our daughter all the time, in fact when we are in the car and she is bored, lonely or tired we sing to her and she either sings back (makes sounds) or falls asleep.  She absolutely loves musical instruments. It is interesting to see that she engages and plays them for a long time. Her favorite instruments now are the triangle and the xylophone.

Books are very important for language development (please read Christie’s blog post for reference of how to choose books for young children) since they provide a rich vocabulary and the images allow babies to associate words and objects. F loves looking at books, paintings and magazines. When she was 3 months old she loved to stare at our big Mexican painting full of red, green and many other vibrant colors. Now she points at the picture as l name the objects for her.  She still loves it except that now she makes different sounds when she looks at it.

When choosing books for F I make sure that they have stories about family life, books with language that has a special rhyme, rhythm and poetry, and books that allow her to experience nature.

“Babies need someone to interact with them and encourage then in a loving way…..A baby needs to be actively engaged with people in order for the communication experience to be meaningful,….. The receptors in a child’s brain need to be stimulated, particularly during the early learning years. These receptors are stimulated when the child is touched, spoken to, and shown pictures, objects, places, and people. Without proper nurturing a child may experience learning delays, or speech, language, or listening disorders.” Childhood Speech, Language and Listening Problems, Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi, pages.11-12.

As Dr. Montessori stated in her book The Absorbent Mind “Man himself must become the center of education and we must never forget that man does not develop only at university, but begins his mental growth at birth, and pursues it with the greatest intensity during the first three years of life.”

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The Importance of Movement and the Impact of Clothing

By Rubi

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.

Movement

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?

Examples of clothing that allow for movement

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.

 

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, 2 years +, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Independence, Rubi

Outdoor Nature Experiences for Your Baby

By Carrie and Rubi

I love having wonderful AtoI friends where we swap ideas to aid the development of our children.  The other day Rubi was telling me about her daughter spending time outdoors exploring moss and then says, “I need outdoor activities.”  What?!  You’ve just been telling me about this fabulous sensorial, nature experience your daughter has been having and you need more ideas?  So I took a moment to reflect on her question as I hadn’t really given this topic too much thought for my own daughter other than going outside daily.  She’s not capable enough to get to many places independently or do the myriad of outdoor practical life activities that an older child might be doing.  Rubi’s question made me wonder how we could provide more opportunities for our babies to experience nature outdoors.  Here’s what Rubi and I came up with.

Daily walks

When A. was younger she went for walks in her bassinet style stroller so she could fully stretch out her body.  A car seat places a child in a propped up position and straps the child in.  In her bassinet stroller , she could stretch her arms above her head and kick her legs around.  She could turn her head to look where she wanted, including looking at me as her point of reference, but mostly she slept.  She also greatly loved being cuddled up close to our bodies, so for many months she went for a walk being carried in the Beco.  Now that she is older she enjoys being awake for most walks and sits up in her stroller to take in all the sights.  We mostly go for walks in our neighbourhood so she can enjoy many flowers but we also go to the woodland park near our house.  I think this bit of daily fresh air is good for all of us as a family.

     

Laying outside

While we don’t always go outside everyday, we definitely do so multiple times a week.  When A. was younger I would place her outdoors in the cestina or on her topponcino in the Moses basket.  By the time she was two months, I mostly placed her on a blanket and she would listen to the birds or listen to me read her stories.  She would also enjoy tummy time outside.  We mostly did this in our backyard.  Rubi did the same with F., often bringing a basket with a few toys outdoors.  Rubi has also provided F. with a wind chime to listen to.  Rubi reminded me that blowing some bubbles for a baby to observe is also a lot of fun.  Having a sprinkler for the baby to experience water would be fun too.  During the summer I would often go for picnics and I would try to place A. in the shade of a tree so that she could watch the movement of the branches and leaves in the wind.  She was also able to observe the clouds, flowers, and whatever is around.  I was thinking that going somewhere with a river or stream would be a lovely experience.  Enjoying food outside (nursing or solid foods) is also a different experience for a baby.

  

Exploring with items from Nature

Rubi provides items from nature for her daughter to play with when outdoors.  Her daughter explores with various items such as grass, sticks, and moss.  F. is developing her pincer grip by picking up small pieces of moss.  I am enthralled with the sensorial experiences F. is receiving as she touches the various textures and, of course as babies do, puts the items in her mouth.  Rubi has also provided a bucket of rocks for F. to place rocks in and out of.

Many mornings A. and I will go for a quick “garden tour” before her morning nap to check out the plants that are growing.  It has been great fun with a vegetable garden as I talk to her about the various plants we have growing and allow her to feel them.  She has had the opportunity to feel smooth pea pods, prickly squash leaves, and bumpy broccoli.  Since my conversation with Rubi, I have been encouraged to let A. have time on the grass.  Often this occurs prior to dinner.  She has greatly been enjoying the opportunity to sit on the grass, pick grass, and experience it by eating it. Outside of the daily experience in the backyard, I think it is great to expose your baby to sandy beaches, swimming in a warm lake, and whatever other natural places happen to be in the area that you live.  As long as your baby is able to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch items of nature!

 

Playground

For an older baby, it is fun to go to the playground.  If you can find a playground built for toddlers this is even better.  Once your baby is able to sit independently, then he/she is ready to enjoy going on the swings.  Carefully observe your baby for signs of enjoyment and distress as sometimes this experience is not enjoyed by babies, or the enjoyment can quickly change into distress.  F. has a lot of fun on the swings and at the playground.  She crawls around on the equipment and on the wood chips, greatly enjoying exploring the wood chips.  She is now pulling up, cruising along, and trying to climb up on much of the equipment.  She also enjoys going down the slide.  While it may seem obvious to go to the playground, often F. is the only baby at the playground!  Rubi commented that it is because other parents don’t want to bring their child who is not yet walking because the child will get all dirty.  Appropriate clothing meant for play is important for children of all ages, including babies.

 

Experiencing Weather

Most of us tend to be fair weather lovers.  Instead, most of us live in places where it gets cold, hot, rainy, snowy, sunny, and windy.  I believe that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices.  Both A. and F. were born in the winter.  We bundled up our babies and took them outside.  During the summer A. was too young to wear sunscreen so we sought out shade and covered her up when spending extended periods of time in the sun.  One particular rainy day, F. went outside and played in the rain and puddles.  What a delightful experience!

We hope you have fun outdoors with your baby, cultivating a love of nature right from birth!  Do you have more ideas to share with us?

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Ages, Carrie, Nature/Outdoors, Rubi

Crawling – Part Two: The Prepared Environment

By Rubi

Each stage of development goes so fast that it’s important to be prepared ahead of time in order to help the child achieve each milestone. My husband and I decided to set up our home in a way that would allow F to explore her surroundings freely. We believe that having the ability to explore the environment enhances cognitive and motor development, since the child sees something across the room and is able to crawl, creep, roll over or walk towards it to explore and manipulate it. If the child is placed in an exersaucer, bouncy seat or play pen the child has to wait for an adult to place a toy in front of him/her and play with whatever he/she was given.  This doesn’t allow the child to play, move and most importantly, it doesn’t give him/her the opportunity to choose what he/she wants to play with.

Playing with spinning top

In Montessori we pay a lot of attention to preparation of the environment and the selection of the materials (toys). We believe the prepared environment gives the child the best opportunity to develop the different stages of development; therefore, it is necessary that the adult spends time to carefully select and choose what is best for the child.  When choosing the materials (toys) we have to make sure they are child size, they are beautiful and have an intelligent purpose.

We chose toys that would help F enhance hand-eye coordination, help her develop attention and concentration, give her a sense of accomplishment, develop visual skills, encourage her to coordinate her movements, help with balance and eventually help her develop the process of independence.

As well as covering the plugs, removing poisonous plants and materials with toxins, securing cabinets, etc. we made sure that there is something interesting and safe throughout the house for her to see, touch and learn from.

Here are some toys that we chose for her room for this stage of development (crawling):

  • A box with a tray and ball to help her with the process of object permanence (something that is out of sight doesn’t mean it is gone forever), the ball disappears briefly then comes back; this material also enables her to work on her hand-eye coordination, cause-and-effect.
  • On a different corner there is a basket with different balls of various textures, sizes and weighs for her to touch, roll, explore and compare (with this activity she is choosing, comparing, tactile input, measuring size, texture, colors, etc.).
  • A little wood boat with two wooden toys that she takes out of the boat and tries to put back into the wholes. She is working on her fine motor skills, hand eye coordination.
  • A basket with different musical instruments a rattle, egg shaker, bells. With this activity she is able to refine her hearing and explore the different textures and sizes of the musical instruments.
  • A box with balls to push, her favourite toy in the room. She loves pushing the balls down and watching them go out of the tray. This toy is strengthening the muscles of her hands and fingers; as well as, developing her hand-eye coordination, it also helps her understand cause and effect when she pushes the ball down is goes through the hole and falls down.

In the dining area I have another shelf with:

Shelf with Materials

  • A low shelf with a book.
  • A wooden toy (egg and a cup) helps her with hand-eye coordination and to cross the midline.
  • A xylophone for hand-eye coordination and music appreciation.
  • A basket with known objects: a wooden rattle, interlocking rings (metal) a little brush (I name the objects and explore them carefully, we are working on her language skills using concrete objects to associate word and object)

In the kitchen I have another low shelf:

Shelf with Materials

  • A metal top, a little metal basket with a fabric flower that she takes in and out, a toy with pegs and rings. All of them help her with hand-eye coordination and refinement of fine motor skills.
  •  I also placed some cube magnets on my husband’s metal desk that she loves. All of the materials listed above are changed slowly, after she loses interest or masters a skill or moves on to a different milestone.

Objects to encourage walking:

  • Low furniture, such as our sofa, an ottoman, etc.
  • She has a beautiful handmade wooden chair that she uses to pull herself up and holds on to the sofa while practicing standing up and sitting down. She is on her way to cruising (walking along furniture).

The outdoor environment:

 

  • There is a wind chime that she enjoys moving as she crawls by.
  • A bucket with some rocks that she places in and out of it chews on them and manipulates.
  • Bubbles
  • Most important, she explores the grass, the stone path, and the plants.
  • A low lounge chair for her to practice standing, cruising, pulling up and sitting down.

By nine months a baby understands the purpose of an object: a cup is for drinking, a rattle is for shaking, etc. by letting her manipulate different objects we are allowing her to make the appropriate associations.

It is a lot of work to prepare and maintain the environment but  I enjoy looking at my daughter everyday choosing her favorite toys, crawling from one shelf to another or ignoring a shelf or a toy because  she is too busy picking up a tiny little dog hair that she has found on the floor.

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Filed under 6-12 Months, Play Area/Toys, Rubi

Crawling – Part One: Tummy Time

By Rubi

When taking the Assistants to Infancy training we studied the development of movement (voluntary and involuntary). Among the voluntary movements there are many important milestones, including one important one that my own child has just mastered, crawling.

One of the most important preliminary exercises that will assist a baby to learn to crawl, is tummy time.  The importance of tummy time cannot be understated as it leads to the strengthening of a baby’s core, back and neck muscles, eventually strengthening the shoulders, forearms and wrists; all contributing factors to a baby’s physical development and ability to crawl.

The Area for Movement:

In Montessori we have a place for everything and everything has a place, therefore we have a specific area for babies to exercise, (which of course includes “tummy time”), and we refer to it as “The Area for Movement”.  The Area for Movement consists of a movement mat, a mirror, and a low shelf with different material (toys) as well as some pictures on the wall and mobiles hanging from the ceiling.

The movement mat is an important tool to use since it will allow the infant to develop voluntary movement in a safe and comfortable place.  This place also encourages the infant to be independent since he/she is able to explore different objects, observe mobiles or just practice some rolling on his/her own while mom is observing from the distance.

The Area for Movement could be placed in the infant’s room or in the living room, whatever is most suitable for your family’s space and preference.  We chose to arrange the area in our Daughter’s bedroom.

The movement mat should be approximately 75” x 40” made of dense foam or a soft yet firm material.  Ours was purchased at Ikea and was originally sold as a “mattress top”, however many options are on the market.  For more information on setting up your Area for Movement, please read Christie’s blog post on setting up the home environment

How I introduced Tummy Time to my baby:

Putting my Montessori education into practice with my child is not always as easy as I would hope.  We introduced tummy time to our daughter about two weeks after we brought her home from the hospital, which at the time was quite easy to do as she seemed to prefer sleeping on her stomach (not doctor recommended due to a higher risk of SIDS).  After a month or two she became very fussy when we put her down on a flat surface such as her movement mat.   Our daughter would become very upset if we left her on the movement mat for more than a minute or two and I struggled to find a solution to this problem.

The solution that finally worked was quite simple:  We started placing our daughter on her stomach for a very short time (about 20 seconds worked for us, but each baby is different so if you baby is more comfortable on the mat you might go longer), once or twice per day.  While she was on the mat, my husband or I sat with her and showed her various materials such as rattles and pictures.  She slowly became more comfortable spending time on her tummy and as she did we increased the amount of time from 20 seconds to 30, 40, etc. and gradually increased the number of tummy time sessions to 3-4 per day. This process took a lot of patience, but it worked.

If your baby is having a lot of problems with Tummy Time, I would also suggest that you experiment using firm pillows to prop your baby up in a more comfortable position.  With our daughter we found that a nursing pillow worked well, as shown in the following picture.  We started using the nursing pillow in this way at around 3 months until she was comfortable without it:

At 5 months my daughter started sitting up on her own and wanted to be in this position at all times, but I still managed to encourage tummy time every day.  At six and a half months she started creeping backwards and rolling to places to get around; at seven months she was on her hands and knees, a good sign that she would be crawling in a month or so. She stared crawling a week before she turned nine months and I was the happiest mother ever as all of my efforts, and hers, had been rewarded.

Happy with Tummy Time

For more information on your babies growth, care and development in the first year, I recommend the book: Baby Day by Day, by Dr. Ilona Bendefy, DK Publishing.

For more information on how to improve your child’s physical development, I recommend the book:
Why Motor Skills Matter, by Tara Losquadro Liddle, M.P.T., McGraw-Hill.

I also highly recommend the following article about the importance of crawling: What’s So Important About Crawling? 

Don’t forget to enter to win the Five Pack of Toys from Beginning Montessori by commenting on our blog or our facebook page with something you’d like us to write about in future posts.  Entries must be submitted by Saturday, August 24 11:59PM PST.   (Contest has now closed.)

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Play Area/Toys, Rubi