Montessori

How to give your child what they really crave, calm simplicity.

What does your child really need?  

More experiences, more educational toys, more outings, more play dates, more, more...., more?

Perhaps what they really need, what would really make them happier and more satisfied is not more but less. 

Many adults are attracted to the philosophy of de-cluttering, and find that simplifying their life brings a sense of peace, the same applies to the young child.  

Less for most children would very definitely be more.

A simple Montessori-inspired approach to parenting has a lot to offer busy parents.

It offers practical, easy to understand strategies to simplify home life and most importantly it helps parents understand and focus on the needs of young children.

How to start?

Step 1. Press the blue button

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3 simple steps to calm your frustrated child

Photo by Harald Groven on Flikr

Photo by Harald Groven on Flikr

"Help me to do it myself"

The young child, through their actions, tells us over and over they want to do things for themselves and that they experience enormous frustration when they are restricted in their efforts. 

Where do we start to help our young children to do things themselves?

It's not always practical is it? They get frustrated and you get frustrated it’s very exhausting for everyone.

So how can we minimise their frustrations and help them on their journey toward independence and at the same time, help ourselves too?

Well let's get started:

Step 1: Child’s place:

Create a space specifically designed to meet the needs of your young child, a space that has the things they need for positive play.

  • Ensure there is enough child-height, safe, open shelving and comfortable child-sized table and chairs.

Step 2: Begin the process:

  • Clear out the clutter - be ruthless, really this is SO important

  • Remove everything that's broken or incomplete

  • Evaluate what's left. Too easy? too hard? Remove and store

  • Find trays/containers/baskets for each item on the shelf

  • Make sure each activity is complete and the tools (such as scissors) are efficient and the correct size for the child to use

Step 3: Now you are ready to create some activities. 

I'll start by giving a few examples of activities that provide your child with the opportunity to develop, refine and enjoy the skills of everyday life :

  • Make practise examples of the things your child is trying to master such as

    • spooning,

    • pouring

      -dry ( beans lentils or small pasta)

      -liquid depending on age/ motor development)

    • cutting a banana,

    • putting on their shoes

    • brushing hair

    • folding

    • pairing socks

  • Think carefully about the skills of the child and make sure the activities are within the child's capabilities, with a little practise.

  • To help your little one achieve success show them how to do each activity with slow and careful movements.

  • Store the new activity on a shelf where your child can the easily reach it. That way they can choose to use it as often as they wish.

You can replicate this approach with almost any activity/toy.

Marie Kondo and Maria Montessori have a lot in common

The day I read this Domain article I was immediately struck by the similarities between the KonMari method and Montessori principles and practises.

Montessori advocated for children to be surrounded by beauty, the beauty of good, simple design in an attractive, ordered environment. She believed such an environment necessary if the young child is to fully experience (inner) peace and engagement.

We also know through an increasing body of research that children do better with fewer rather than more toys.

The best environment for our children:

With that information in mind how can we provide the best possible environment for our children in the important early years?

A favourite Montessori slogan is "Help me to do it myself" and as adults that's precisely our job, to help the child in their quest for independence.  We do this through the creation of an environment which supports rather than hinders those needs.

It's not always easy, the toddler years can be very testing as your child is driven, by their strong desire for independence, to do things by themselves at their own pace, a pace which is not always practical or convenient! 

Supporting the development of independence:

What we can do is support the development of independence though an ordered play-area and through organised age-appropriate tools and toys.

If the child is (for example) driven to do some cutting and knows where to find the scissors and the cutting paper, and they have a place to work, they are freed from dependence on the adult and can do this even when adults are busy with other tasks.

When a child is overwhelmed by clutter and frustrated in their quest is it any wonder they can become cranky?

It's so important that the adults surrounding the child are partners, rather than obstacles on on the child's journey to independence.

Physical changes really will make a huge difference

Creating order in your child's play-area/bedroom and developing a streamlined, practical storage system is a great place to start, as an investment it will pay dividends.

I can only agree with the final paragraph in the Domain article:

  • "There’s a real sense of calm in an ordered home and it transmits to everyone living there (sounds woo-woo, but it’s true.)

  • Getting a professional in is always worth it!"

I'm a professional, an early childhood specialist, with decades of experience creating beautiful, practical spaces for pre-school children.

If you'd like to create calm beautiful order in your home contact me here, I'd love to help you.

The results will be truly remarkable.

Realistic expectations - Understanding what drives your child

messy eating.jpg

Why is it important?

When adult expectations are realistic and in tune with a child’s developmental drivers it is easy for the child to experience success and enjoy a sense of achievement. It’s also likely they’ll be more cooperative and easier to get along with.

No matter how carefully or how many times you explain it, a young child cannot understand adult values, adult problems or time scales, they can’t, they really really can’t.

Very often this mismatch of expectations and capabilities causes tension and unhappiness for both adult and child.

The big difference between children and adults

It doesn't matter to a young child that their parent will be late for work as they’re taking too long to put on their shoes or that spilling juice will ‘ruin’ the carpet or that their brand new top is stained by paint.

The child is intensely driven by a completely different motive, the quest for independence. The young child really does need to put their shoes on themselves and to pour their own drink, feed themselves.

It’s the job of the adult to understand the needs of the child and to work out how the needs of the parent and the child can both be met, most of the time.

What drives the young child?

From birth the child is powered by their internal timetable, each step along the way is a step toward the goal of independence and self direction. 

Children are absolutely desperate to do things for themselves almost as soon as they grasp the idea of what it is that needs doing.

As adults it's our job to create an environment where the child can, wherever possible, succeed in their ever-growing quest for independence and understanding of the world around them.

Practical ideas to support independence:

"Help me to do it myself" is often used as a short-hand way to describe the Montessori approach to meeting the child’s developmental needs, it’s a practical approach which can be used at home to create pathways toward independence.

As the toddler starts to want to do things for themselves here are some simple things you can do: 

  1. Open shelves at child height with activities categorised and organised with all components needed. These activities are age and interest specific, put away everything that does not fit that criteria.

  2. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can use the dining table.

  3. A step to allow access to the hand-basin / toilet. A hand-towel at the right height.

  4. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.

  5. Child safe kitchen utensils and a child sized chopping board, plus a place to work.

  6. Organising practical storage so the child can access appropriate clothing and shoes.

  7. Purchasing clothing and shoes which make it easy for the child to dress themselves and go to the toilet.

  8. Walk at a pace that allows the young child to explore their surroundings.

  9. Time - allow enough time for the child to be successful and enough time and space for you to observe and really understand what your child is ‘telling’ you.

The more activities the young child can do by themselves for themselves the happier and more content the child will be and so too the parent as life will be much less of a battle.

Children are most content when their developmental needs are met.

What the child cannot do is understand or appreciate adult priorities and time frames, and it’s not their job. Their job is to strive for independence and ever increasing control, and when adults help them to do that everyone is happier.

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Do parents expect too much?

Photo by  Senjuti Kundu  on  Unsplash

No matter how carefully or how many times you explain it, the young child cannot understand adult values, adult problems or time scales, they can’t, they really really can’t.

Very often this mismatch of expectations and capabilities causes tension and unhappiness for both adult and child.

It doesn't matter to a young child that their parent will be late for work as they’re taking too long to put on their shoes or that spilling juice will ‘ruin’ the carpet or that their new top will be stained by paint.

The child is intensely driven by a completely different motive, the quest for independence. The young child really does need to put their shoes on themselves and to pour their own drink.

It’s the job of the adult to understand the needs of the child and to work out how the needs of the parent and the child can both be met, most of the time.

From birth the child is powered by their internal timetable, each step along the way is a step toward the goal of independence and self direction. 

Children are absolutely desperate to do things for themselves almost as soon as they grasp the idea of what it is that needs doing.

As adults it's our job to create an environment where the child can, wherever possible, succeed in their ever-growing quest for independence.

Practical ideas to support independence:

"Help me to do it myself" is often used as a short-hand way to describe the Montessori approach to meeting the child’s developmental needs.

Parents can use this practical approach to create practical pathways toward independence.

As the toddler starts to want to do things themselves here are some simple things you can do: 

  1. Open shelves at child height with activities categorised and organised with all components needed. These activities are age and interest specific, put away everything that does not fit that criteria.

  2. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can use the dining table.

  3. A step to allow access to the hand-basin / toilet. A hand-towel at the right height.

  4. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.

  5. Child safe kitchen utensils and a child sized chopping board, plus a place to work.

  6. Organising practical storage so the child can access appropriate clothing and shoes.

  7. Purchasing clothing and shoes which make it easy for the child to dress themselves and go to the toilet.

  8. Walk at a pace that allows the young child to explore their surroundings.

The more activities the young child can do by themselves for themselves the happier and more content the child will be and so too the parent as life will be much less of a battle.

Children are most content when their developmental needs are met.

What the child cannot do is understand or appreciate adult priorities and time frames, and it’s not their job. Their job is to strive for independence and ever increasing control, and when adults help them to do that everyone is happier.

Don’t forget to register your email so you can get helpful posts like this straight to your inbox, no searching required.

 

Get real! Do parents expect too much?

Photo by  Senjuti Kundu  on  Unsplash

No matter how carefully or how many times you explain it, the young child cannot understand adult values, adult problems or time scales, they can’t, they really really can’t.

Very often this mismatch of expectations and capabilities causes tension and unhappiness for both adult and child.

It doesn't matter to a young child that their parent will be late for work as they’re taking too long to put on their shoes or that spilling juice will ‘ruin’ the carpet or that their new top will be stained by paint.

The child is intensely drive by a completely different motivation, the quest for independence. The young child really does need to put their shoes on themselves and to pour their own drink.

It’s the job of the adult to understand the needs of the child and to work out how the needs of the parent and the child can both be met, most of the time.

From birth the child is powered by their internal timetable, each step along the way is a step toward the goal of independence and self direction. 

Children are absolutely desperate to do things for themselves almost as soon as they grasp the idea of what it is that needs doing.

As adults it's our job to create an environment where the child can, wherever possible, succeed in their ever-growing quest for independence.

Practical ideas to support independence:

"Help me to do it myself" is often used as a short-hand way to describe the Montessori approach to meeting the child’s developmental needs.

Parents can use this practical approach to create practical pathways toward independence for their young child. 

As the toddler starts to want to do things themselves here are some simple changes you can easily make: 

  1. Open shelves at child height with activities categorised and organised with all components needed. These activities are age and interest specific.

  2. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can use the dining table.

  3. A step to allow access to the hand-basin / toilet. A hand-towel at the right height.

  4. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.

  5. Child safe kitchen utensils and a child sized chopping board, plus a place to work.

  6. Organising practical storage so the child can access appropriate clothing and shoes.

  7. Purchasing clothing and shoes which make it easy for the child to dress themselves and go to the toilet.

  8. Walk at a pace that allows the young child to explore their surroundings.

The more activities the young child can do by themselves for themselves the happier and more content the child will be and so too the parent as life will be much less of a battle.

Children are most content when their developmental needs are met.

What the child cannot do is understand or appreciate adult priorities and time frames, and it’s not their job. Their job is to strive for independence and ever increasing control, and when adults help them to do that everyone is happier.

Don’t forget to register your email so you can get helpful posts like this straight to your inbox, no searching required.

 

Parents are you drowning in kids toys? Have a huge clear-out and feel the calm descend

20141023_shelves.jpg

Many parents of young children express frustration that their house is filled with toys yet the toys don't seem to satisfy their child for more than a moment.

There are many reasons for this:

  • the activities are designed for an older child and are too difficult or they are too easy and provide no challenge at all.

  • Parts are missing or many different toys are jumbled up together

  • The tools/materials required are not on hand or they are not effective

So how can you make better use of the toys you have so your child will be able to select an activity and work with it (on their own)?

Yes, this is possible!

  1. Sort through the toys you have, discard any which are incomplete or if the pieces are lovely use them to create an entirely new activity.

  2. Decide which activities are right for your child's stage of development and interests. Remove those which are too easy or too hard

  3. Shelving: safe, child-height - shelving is vital.

  4. A designated work space (perhaps defined by an attractive mat) which contains a child-sized table and chairs.

  5. Trays / containers/ baskets which contain all the pieces of an activity.

  6. Trays / containers which are practical for containing materials which may be used in different activities e.g. scissors, paper, pencils,crayons, glue etc.

  7. Arrange the activities attractively on the shelves, categorising them where possible.

You don't need to put all toys out at once, rotate some from time to time.

You don't have to do this all by yourself, I can help you.

If these changes sound like exactly what's needed at your place, but you haven't the time or feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, don't worry because help is available, this is one of the services offered by even better parenting.

 

One more thing, do you know about the Free Taster? 

An introductory session, absolutely free. No obligation, nothing to lose and potentially much to gain.

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