10 Things

10 Things to do at home to support your child’s growth in self-discipline

  • Prepare your child’s environment with furniture and equipment that are her size. For example, when she wants to wash carrots or strawberries, she can sit on a chair by a table that are her size and use small kitchen tools that fit her hands. Show her clear ways to do tasks such as dusting a shelf, sweeping, washing socks, wiping the table after a meal, folding up and putting away clothes, setting the table, and more.
  • Let her learn from her own mistakes. She will not work as you work, quickly and efficiently. If she is learning how to use a mop, there may be soap and water on the floor when she is finished. The process is far more important to her inner growth than having clean floors. Help her to clean up by sharing the task with her rather than stepping in and doing it for her.
  • Use household items and toys for their intended purpose. If you child throws her shape-sorting toy, say, “Be gentle with your toys.” Young children sometimes throw on a whim, but it doesn’t mean they are destructive. If she throws the toy again, redirect her by saying, “Come outside and let’s throw the ball.”
  • When appropriate, offer real choices. Choices should be simple, such as peanut butter or cheese on her sandwich or buying red or green apples. Too many choices are overwhelming; a handful of choices a day are enough at this age.
  • Speak to her positively and sincerely. Your child will thrive with positive statements but does not need to be showered with empty praise. Instead of saying, “You’re such a good helper”, say, “Thank you for setting the table.” Instead of ordering, “Get off the table”, lift her off the table and say, “Feet on the floor.”
  • Do not feel the need to reward your child for doing what you want her to do. For children, the reward is in the work itself. Adults may consider “work” something we must do, but for children their work is their play.
  • Keep consistent routines. Children need regular sleep times, regular meals, time with family members, and opportunities to expend energy and play outside. When her days are predictable she knows better what to expect.
  • Set limits that work for your family, and make sure that everyone applies them. When you give in to your child’s demands, it is difficult for her to understand what is expected of her.
  • Evaluate each situation before reacting. If your child has lost control, ask yourself if she is hungry, tired, frustrated, or overstimulated. Each situation calls for a different response.
  • Realize that punishment doesn’t work. Punishment has limited value, as it causes the child to focus on what not to do rather than on what to do. Additionally, it often makes a small problem bigger. Young children can often remember the punishment, but may not connect the punishment to the behavior that triggered it.
Children cooking
Boy sweeping
Girl painting
Girl polishing

How is Montessori Different?

The Real Difference:

The formation of children’s fundamental capacities is hugely important during the first years of life – not just academic learning but the ability to concentrate, persevere and think for themselves as well as the ability to interact well with others. Children who have been given the right kind of support during these formative years grow into adults who are self-motivated and love learning, can think flexibly and creatively and who are not only conscious of the needs of others but actively foster harmony as they go through life.

Traditional Versus Montessori:

In traditional education adults decide what children need to learn and the ability to retain and reproduce information is used as a measure of academic success. The teacher is the active giver of information and children are passive receivers. In the Montessori approach it is all about the activity of the child. The teacher takes on a different role, that is, to provide the right kind of circumstances so that children can be guided to find what they need from what is on offer. Children then become active learners and are able to reach their own unique potential because they are learning at their own pace and rhythm focussing on their own particular developmental needs at that moment.

The Montessori approach provides:

  • An environment that serves the particular needs of each child’s stage of development
  • An adult who understands child development and acts as a guide to help children find their own natural path
  • Freedom for children to engage in their own development according to their own particular developmental timeline

Source: Aid to Life, aidtolife.org.

Food for Thought

The importance of nutrition in the development of the young child cannot be understated. It is essential that during this rapid period of growth in bodies and minds, the young child receives a well balanced diet of carbohydrates, both simple and complex, fats, proteins, water, minerals, vitamins and enzymes for optimal health.

Just as important, in these early years are the positive attitudes of the adults nurturing the young child as a social being. As soon as the infant is aware of how others around him are eating, there is an intense interest and desire to imitate this new way of receiving food. This is best supported by offering finger foods and opportunities for the use of utensils by the child, in collaboration with feeding, in a social setting. This acceptance of one of the child’s first attempts toward independence sets the stage for lifelong attitudes about food, family, respect and gratitude.

In the Toddler Community, we offer Food as an Occasion of Education. The children are eager to participate in the preparation of our snack foods and all the activities that prepare the room for our small meal together. Washing, peeling, chopping fruits and vegetables, mixing, rolling, cutting dough for biscuits or grating and spooning cheese onto tortillas are all carried out by the children on a daily basis.

The work area is set up with care so the children may be as independent as possible in their execution. A small cutting board, peeler and a basin for the peels to go into, a chopping tool and a serving bowl provide just what is needed to prepare cucumbers for our snack.

Clean up of the area is another aspect of great interest to the children. Wiping a table with a small sponge or practicing the hand skills for sweeping into a dustpan and carrying it level to the receptacle provide an immense feeling of accomplishment. If nothing makes it to the destination, there is an opportunity for repetition to sweep again. There are always dishes that need to be washed after we work in the kitchen. This is another relaxing but sequence oriented task, that helps a child work with a process to accomplish a goal; dishes are scrubbed, rinsed, and placed in the drainer.

Tables need to be moved together and set with a complete place setting for all the children. These are tasks that require cooperation, collaboration and completion! The younger children are often guided by their more capable peers and little by little, everyone has a spoon, fork, plate, cup and a folded napkin.

The fresh foods that are provided by our generous families offer a variety of healthy, seasonally available fruits and vegetables with a variety of smells, tastes, textures and techniques for preparing. What fun to open a pomegranate and gently coax the arils out into a bowl of water, or scoop the seeds and membranes from inside the pumpkin shell, to enjoy the pumpkin after it bakes. Foods that a child may be unfamiliar with and at first are declined, may be tried as it becomes apparent that others at the table are enjoying them.

As we come together at the tables for our ritual song of thanks and snuffing of the candle, the children are part of a caring community offering nourishment to one another through their foods and their deeds.

There is a precious twinkle in the eyes of a two year old who has been asked, “Will you please help me in the kitchen?”

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and special moments together as your family prepares for a wonderful meal.

Toddler blog
Toddlers at work
Toddlers at work
Toddlers at work
Toddlers at work
Toddlers at work
Toddlers at work
Toddlers at work
Toddler blog

Language Development

Language is an intrinsic part of the human being; we all possess the innate possibility to develop language in our genes. The presence of the gene FoxP2, which is unique to human beings and aids in language and speech development, tells us that our linguistic ability is at least partially hard-wired. These genes are activated, or expressed, only through experiences the child has with spoken language during their formative years. Maria Montessori wrote that “The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself. A single observation is enough to prove this. The child grows up speaking his parent’s tongue, yet to grown-ups the learning of a language is a very great intellectual achievement. No one teaches the child, yet he comes to use nouns, verbs and adjectives to perfection.”

Toddler and GuideThe way in which adults and the child’s environment have a direct impact on language development is of great interest to Montessori educators, as well as how the structures of the child’s brain will be influenced by their experiences. From birth to three years old, children are in the sensitive period for language and the quality of their language environment is crucial to their brain development. In the Toddler Community, opportunities to support language development are offered not only through specific materials but in communication and conversations with the children consistently throughout the day. Children are learning not just words as vocabulary, but every single aspect of language and need to be spoken to like adults so that they can learn the complex version that they will be speaking.

The importance of conversation as a tool for language development is further explored in the article below: