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Montessori

Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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Recent Posts

Decide What you Will Do (To Motivate Children to Clean-up)

Today, I want to share how this tool can be very effective in motivating a toddler to clean up.  &#...

Montessori Monday: Toilet Training

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when to start toilet training
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So….I’m interested in starting toilet training for our 20-month old.

I have been reading “Montessori From the Start” throughout Chunky Monkey’s first 2 years,
and embraced most of the ideas.  Unfortunately, I became a floor bed drop-out though, and I’m nervous that early toilet training could end up being another “floor bed idea” (as my husband says).

I just started getting a gut sense that our little man was ready to use the potty recently.  Well, maybe this influenced me a bit (ha!):

potty video

So I started doing some research.  Montessori theories often recommend toilet training around 15-18 months of age, instead of the typical Western age of 2-3 years old.  What is a mom to do?  I think I am going to follow my instincts and at least give it a try.  I bought him some big boy underwear and plan to go with a method that blends ideas from “Montessori from the Start” and ideas about non-coercive potty training from Godiaperfree.com.

Those of you who have done it before, I would LOVE your input.  Otherwise, I’ll let you know how it goes soon enough.:-)

Learning about numbers

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The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) says, “Each day offers us countless opportunities to help children deepen their understanding of math concepts. The more we talk math, the better chance infants and toddlers have to build a positive attitude toward math learning and learning in general.”

So, I am striving to incorporate math concepts into everyday life here with “Chunky Monkey”.  Some people would think it’s too early to work with an 18-month old on math concepts, but that’s not true at all.  Montessori education and the NAEYC recommend that you begin including math concepts in every day life from infancy.  Why waist the incredible time period of 0-3, when children have such absorbent minds?

So, this week I did a DIY flip ring with the numbers 1-10.  number flip book1image1

 

 

 

 

 

I used a permanent marker to write on some lament counter top samples my husband got from a hardware store.  The sample chips and chain came already put together, but you could easily make this with lamenated paper.  In fact, I just found one like it recently at a yard sale (from a crafty mom).:-)image3

My little man was eager to have me tell the “story” of the numbers again and again while he flipped the samples to the next one.

So, I’d call it a success so far – and it only took about 2 minutes to make!

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/math-talk-infants-and-toddlers#sthash.bIKG7DMs.dpuf”

Some ideas for talking about math concepts (from the NAEYC) with young children include:

1. Number and operations

  • “You have two eyes, and so does your bear. Let’s count:–1, 2.”
  • “I have more crackers than you do. See, I have 1, 2, 3,  and you have 1, 2. I’m going to eat one of mine. Now I have the same as you!”
  • “That’s the third time I’ve heard you say mama. You’ve said mama three times!”

2. Shapes and spatial relationships (geometry)

  • “Look, Jason went under the climber and Aliyah is on top!”
  • “You’re sitting next to your brother.”
  • “Some of the crackers we have today are square, and some are round.”

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/math-talk-infants-and-toddlers

– I also strongly recommend this 8-week online course on Early Preparation of the Mathematical Mind.  I took it and learned a lot about how to teach math concepts early.  http://ageofmontessori.org/early-math-course-online/

Floor bed dropout

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confessions of a 1st time mom
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confessions of a 1st time momWell, I have a confession to make.  Yep. I am officially a floor bed dropout.  I learned about using a floored from Montessori, and believed in the theories behind it.

Here is what a Montessori-inspired bedroom, with a floor bed, looks like. Super adorable!

http://sewliberated.typepad.com/sew_liberated/2011/01/finnian-and-lachlans-studio.html

http://sewliberated.typepad.com/sew_liberated/2011/01/finnian-and-lachlans-studio.html

Mainly, the idea is that you:

1.  Have your toddler sleep on a bed that is just a mattress on the floor, with no crib.

2.  This is supposed to help the child to be able to mentally map out their environment more easily and develop independence as they should be able to get up on their own in the morning and play with toys for a while, rather than banging or yelling for parents.

3.  This is supposed to help a child learn boundaries in a more internalized form (ie. stay on the bed because they know that is where they will sleep best, not because they are trapped there).

Well…like I said, in theory this is fantastic.  In reality, however, it was totally not working.  My 16 month-old would fall off the bed in the middle of the night and scream until I came in and put him back on the bed. *Side note: This is strongly influenced by the fact that our child has been slow with large motor development and though he can walk already, he still can’t climb or crawl at all.  So, he really couldn’t get back on the bed when he wiggled off of it.  And, he recently started to be impossible to put down for an afternoon nap because he would push up onto his hands and roll off (to protest the nap), but still not be able to get back on the bed.  That lead to 1/2 hour or longer struggles to try to get him sleepy enough to stay on the bed. Argh! Exhausting.

So…yeah.  My 1st-time mom confession of the week is that I’m a floor bed drop out.  Sorry Montessori! I love you, but I just couldn’t do this one.  The crib’s back up.

Ways to involve your toddler in the kitchen

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If your 1-year-old is like mine, they LOVE to be involved with cooking (or anything you are doing in the kitchen)! My Chunky Monkey loves to sweep too.  These are aspects that Montessori calls “Practical Life” lessons.  When a child has ways that they can be involved in the daily activities (cooking and cleaning), they develop independence and confidence.   Here’s how they do practical life lessons in a Montessori school.

Here are some ways we have found we can get our 1-year old safely involved in the kitchen.

1. cooking with a toddlerPurchase a learning tower.  They are a bit pricey, but you will use it for years.  Also, to us it is worth a million dollars for how happy it makes our son as he is able to more easily help out in the kitchen.  You can set it anywhere and adjust the height so your child is easily (and safely) able to reach the table or counter.

2.  Get out the salad spinner! Our son has loved “helping” make salad since he was 10 months old.  He pushes the button for the salad (which helps him build important hand muscles that will be needed for writing and drawing), and he takes the lid off on his own.  He also loves to tear the lettuce into small pieces and put them in a bowl I set next to him.  The trick is to have his hands washed and a very clean floor under his work area. 🙂  That way if/when he drops pieces, they can easily be picked up and used.

3.  Look for opportunities for them to help stir.  Our Chunky helping in the kitchenMonkey loves to help stir, and it’s an activity that enhances his arm coordination.  We stand close-by, but encourage him to be as independent as possible.  His smile is usually about the size of a slice of watermelon, as he feels so proud to be helping.  *As a side note: I believe in the Positive Discipline principle that children thrive when they have a sense of significance and belonging.  Learn why we need a sense of belonging here.

I’d love to hear other ways you get little hands involved in the kitchen. Please share below.

 

Practical life: 1-year-old watering

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I’ve decided to start a new trend of sharing “Montessori Monday” blogs. So, here’s the first!

watering plants with kidsThink a 1-year-old is too young to do things like water the plants? Think again.

According to Montessori, this is a perfect age to begin what is called “Practical Life” lessons.  In Montessori, there are 4 main avenues of learning.  They are listed in no particular order, as they are used simultaneously.

The 4 Avenues of learning are:

  1. Practical Life
  2. Sensorial Development
  3. Development of Language
  4. Early Preparation of the Mathematical Mind

According to Age of Montessori, “Practical Life exercises help develop the sense of order, coordination of movement, concentration, and independence.  Children learn a sense of order as well as basic social skills through practical life tasks.  These lessons can be further separated into 4 main categories: care of self, care of the environment, grace and courtesy and refinement of movement.”   Continue Reading

Sensitive Periods – The Cue Tips

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sensitive periodsFirst, my connection to Montessori

This morning my son demonstrated what Montessori calls a “Sensitive Period”.  I have been learning about Montessori principles over the past three years, thanks to Age of Montessori (based in my hometown of Bozeman).  I completed their 9-month online teacher training course (but I audited it, since I wasn’t planning to become a certified teacher).  That experience gave me the chance to gain the knowledge and tools of Montessori education, enough to use Montessori in-the-home while I am a SAHM for the first 3-5 years of my son’s life.

Here’s what happened…

So, here is what he did today.  He has been loving taking things out and putting them back into containers. * Well, let’s be honest. He isn’t always as excited about getting all of the pieces back in.  That would be too easy for me, right?;-)

Well, today, he was particularly interested in doing that with the cue tips.  Now, if I wasn’t educated about Montessori’s Sensitive Periods, I would probably have been annoyed and told him he was being naughty for making a mess.

Thankfully, a story from Mary Ellen Maunz was echoing in my head.  One day a little girl was pouring out her mother’s hair pins in the bathroom.  The mother decided that instead of reprimanding her, she would carefully watch to see what happened next.  To her surprise, the young child repeatedly carefully picked up and put each hair pin back into it’s container.  When she was done she poured all the hair pins out and repeated the steps to refill.  This mother understood sensitive periods.

What are Sensitive Periods?

Maria Montessori noticed that children seem to have stages in their development where they are intensely interested in a repetitious activity/behavior and that is a sign that they are in a “sensitive period” to be developing in some way. In this case, my son is in a developmental period where his brain is thirsty for chances to practice emptying and refilling containers.  I’m not sure if it is the coordination it takes to get the items in the container, but something about the activity is extremely satisfying for him, and that means he is meeting an internal developmental need.  The focus he has and the enjoyment on his face, while putting in cue tip after cue tip, shows me that he is in a sensitive period for this type of activity.

How you can help your child in Sensitive Periods

So, I am striving to find as many opportunities as possible to give him items to practice with.  He can do this with the cue tips, the makeup in my morning make-up bag, the blocks in an yogurt tub, etc.  When he has met the internal developmental need to master this task, he won’t be interested anymore.  So, I don’t have to focus on this activity forever.  But, if I can be mindful and attentive enough to my child, I can catch these sensitive periods and try my best to encourage them.

And you can too!

Learn more about Age of Montessori’s Teacher Training Program here.