Practical Activites

Realistic expectations - Understanding what drives your child

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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.

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.

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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The weekend is here and you have an active toddler

The weekend is here, the weather forecast mostly fine (here in Melbourne) and you have an active toddler.

I remembered about an article I read ages ago which listed lots of practical ways for toddlers to use their developing bodies and abundant energy so decided to write short list of my own.

Toddlers love big work!

Here's a taste to inspire you.

Ways that toddlers can exert maximum effort 

Here are a few easy ones -- 

  1. Carrying round a large bag or backpack

  2. Using large foam blocks (the Melbourne Museum Children's Gallery has fantastic large blocks)

  3. Carrying wood

  4. Walking over pillows

  5. Move a bucket or watering can of water

  6. Pushing or carrying a loaded laundry basket

  7. Lift a large(ish) suitcase with some weight in it

  8. Move a piece of furniture

  9. Taking the largest steps possible (stepping stones)

  10. Carrying a large box

  11. Digging and filling a bucket with sand then moving that to a new location .....

I hope you find several ideas which help to make your weekend even more enjoyable for you and your toddler.

You can send me your ideas and photos to my Facebook page

Register here and receive practical parenting information right to your inbox. So convenient. Never miss another article.

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.

 

What does it mean when Montessori talks about the work of the child?

"Play Is The Work of the Child” Maria Montessori

Research shows that 75% of brain development occurs after birth, most of it in the early preschool years.

Early experiences and relationships are vital as they stimulate and influence the development of your child's brain. These experiences influence the development of motor skills, language, socialisation, emotional well-being, creativity, problem-solving and learning ability.

To be positive the activities available to the child must meet the developmental needs of the child. If the activity is too hard or if it is too easy the child becomes either bored or frustrated.

It's important to regularly review your child's toys and activities to see that they are still appropriate, do they still provide enough challenge? If they don't then and they’re too easy, remove them.

Likewise, at times like birthdays and Christmas children often get lots of toys some of which will be too difficult. Put the too difficult ones away and use them later to replace those that have been outgrown.

If you take your lead from the child, especially with things they are desperate to 'help' with or to do by themselves you will see where they (and you) need to go.

Clothing is a good example. You can select some pieces of clothing which are easy to get on and off and put them in a practise basket so the child can choose to practise putting them on and off as often as they wish.

Giving your child a low stool to sit on when putting on clothing, slippers, shoes and such like makes it much more likely the child will be successful. 

Washing dishes may be a chore to we adults, to the young child, it is a deeply satisfying achievement. If a child is given the choice between pretend play and real tasks, real wins every time.

Find as many opportunities as you can for your child to participate in the real everyday activities of the family, if you can do this you'll all be much happier.  Things like: helping unpack or stack the dishwasher, sorting cutlery into the drawer, helping hang out the washing (on their own lower line) pairing socks, folding facewashers, wiping their own little table or chair, getting ingredients from the cupboard or fridge, and dozens more.

Also, by looking objectively at the toys your child uses and the ones they don't, and which activities they most enjoy and which they don't even when encouraged, you can begin to understand which are the elements of each. This valuable knowledge will help you to plan positive, meaningful activities and life will be more fun for everyone!

Enjoy these wonderful early years where each day the miracle of developing life unfolds before you. 

Your child is hard at work every day, working to construct the adult they will become.

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"

is often used as a slogan in Montessori centres, because it's the plea of young children everywhere.

The 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?

So how can we minimise their frustrations and help them on their journey toward independence and help ourselves too?

Well let's get started:

First: 

Create a work-space specifically designed to meet the needs of your young child.

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

Then we begin the process:

  • Clear out the clutter - be ruthless

  • 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

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 or liquid depending on age/ motor development), cutting a banana, putting on their shoes or brushing hair

  • Think carefully about the skills of the child and ensure the activities are within the child's capabilities.

  • To maximise the child's chance of success each new skill or activity is introduced by first showing the child how to do it (sit beside the child not opposite them) and where to replace it.

  • Store the new activity on a shelf easily accessible to the child so they can choose and use this activity at a time of their choosing and repeat it as often as they wish.

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

Want to nurture concentration? Here's how.

 Photo by: The Little House (Montessori)

Photo by: The Little House (Montessori)

Concentration and persistence are incredibly important to your child's current and future learning.

With the very best of intentions some parents aim to give their small children a head start by having them tutored in maths or reading and providing them with every educational toy they can afford.

Research shows that time (and money) would be much better spent ensuring little ones can sit and focus on a task, remember things and follow directions.

This topic links back to my earlier posts about creating a beautiful ordered environment where organisation and periods of calm allow concentration to develop.

Importantly, if we want to encourage the development of concentration we also require a range of age and interest appropriate activities. These activities need to be attractive, complete and organised in such a way that the child can independently choose, use and complete each one.

 

 

When all this happens the child's developmental needs are met, their quest for independence is both supported and enhanced and their choices respected.

Through these practical, organised, appropriate activities the child has a real opportunity to develop concentration and persistence (more to follow about persistence along with more simple practical activity ideas).

  • A simple practical example: cutting with scissors 

Requirements:  a tray, scissors which work (many scissors sold as children's scissors don't really cut anything), paper cut to size, as per the photo below, this is to increase the child's likelihood of success.

Some people like to add a small bowl or basket as storage for the cut pieces.

It's good to have a waste paper bin close by and a basket containing more of the prepared papers - as children rarely want to stop at one.

Paper_Cutting_1-6.JPG

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of creating this type of environment, don't despair that's something I can help with.  

One of the services I offer is de-cluttering toys and play areas and the establishment of beautiful, practical order. Contact me