Monday, October 5, 2015

Young Montessori Toddlers in the Kitchen

One of the things that makes Montessori unique is its emphasis on practical experiences for young toddlers {12 to 18 months.} From the time the children start eating, they are presented with opportunities to help in the kitchen in real and practical ways.

There are so many ways that even the youngest toddler can help in the kitchen. I am by no means someone who enjoys cooking/baking/generally being in the kitchen, but these ideas even work for me!

With Nora, we started offering food when she was 6-months-old at her weaning table. From that time, we have given her a glass plate, cup and silverware. This has given her the opportunity to practice the same skills she sees us doing as we eat. Nora uses a spoon. For her, it has just been a natural part of learning how to eat.

But, as Nora started standing, climbing and walking, she has gained other opportunities in the kitchen. These have started gradually and increased with her interests, skills and ability. We haven't done everything on this list, but we will get there eventually!

Food Preparation

  • Peeling sliced bananas 
  • Pulling apple slices from cutter
  • Slicing chunks of banana (or other soft food like cheese or fruit)
  • Washing fruit
  • Spreading butter or peanut butter on toast 
  • Mixing prepared ingredients (while baking bread, muffins or cookies, for example) 
  • Pouring pre-measured ingredients (again while baking)  
  • Cracking eggs
  • Placing ingredients into a blender or mixer
  • Slicing eggs or strawberries 
  • Kneading dough 
  • Scooping batter or dough 

Food Service

  • Placing food onto plate 
  • Putting a place mat on a table
  • Bringing empty plates/cups/silver wear to table
  • Carrying plates of food to table 
  • Pouring water into cup 

Clean Up
  • Washing hands 
  • Wiping hands/face 
  • Wiping table 
  • Bringing dishes to sink
  • Wiping counters
  • Washing dishes 
  • Throwing away food or garbage 
  • Sweeping floors 
  • Putting away groceries or items used

This list is far from exhaustive -- always remember to follow your child in the kitchen and see what they are interested in. Trust their abilities and go from there! 

To make these skills and tasks possible, it's important that you have the right tools for your young toddler to use. By using smaller tools, they can easily perform tasks instead of trying to accomplish them with larger less adaptable tools. Some of my recommendations include -- 

Glass Pitcher; Ceramic Dishes; Tall Stool; Spreader Knife; Toddler flat wear; Egg Slicer; Cutting Board; Toddler Apron; Small glasses; Small pitcher; Mini Utensils

What do you do in the kitchen with your children? Do you get your baby or young toddler involved? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Montessori Moment

Sometimes it's in the smallest moments that I remember why I love Montessori so much. Through all the challenges that parenting presents, its really these remarkable moments that make you take pause about how awesome these little beings truly are. 

This morning was like any other, I was working in my office before Morgan left for work. He had gotten the children fed and dressed before we switched roles -- him off to work and me off to parenting. Henry and Nora were playing happily when I returned from my office. 

Shortly after I came up, Nora started getting a bit crabby. Sometimes my presence reminds her that she would like to nurse. Except she wasn't signing to nurse. She was making large sweeping motions with her arms, similar to signing all done. I asked her "all done with what?" but that just made her crankier. 

She just kept looking to me and sweeping her arms. Finally, I said "show me Nora." She stopped suddenly walked over to Henry and pointed at his face. Sure, enough some of his breakfast was still on his face! 

It all clicked! The motion was the same as how she "wipes up" her table after meals. "Oh! Brother needs to wipe up!" She instantly smiled and shook her head yes. We walked to the sink, got a rag and helped Henry wipe his face. Henry and I were equally amused and impressed. 

See that's the thing about Montessori. It teaches us to respect even what the smallest children are saying to us. It helps us remember to stop and listen. They have a voice and they often have something very important to say! 

Had I ignored her pleas and attempts at communication, I wouldn't have missed much. Henry's face would have eventually been cleaned. But, I would have missed Nora. I would have missed something that was important to her. An opportunity to make her a whole {heard} member of our family. I'm so happy I didn't miss this moment, this opportunity. She's valued, she's loved, she's respected -- even if she's little.

{I hope you enjoy this sneak peak at our new playroom! More to come on that!}


Monday, September 21, 2015

Peace Day 2015

Today is International Day of Peace! One of the most beautiful parts of Montessori education is it's focus on peace.

Teaching peace and conflict resolution from the youngest age -- sitting together and working out a solution, is in important part of every Montessori classroom. At home, even the youngest children are respected, listened to and loved. Teaching these qualities to children can help make the world a better place.

Over on Montessori 101 we are discussing peace and Montessori education all day long! Come join us for lovely conversations and peace resources! 

One thing I would really love to incorporate in my home is a peace table. It's a small table where children can sit to contemplate peace or to work out conflicts. I need to start gathering some supplies! A small table with a book or zen garden, or earth puzzle, just lovely!

What are you going for Peace Day!?

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

When Your Montessori Child Won't Do Math

I've been wracking my brain for the past several weeks trying to come up with a math related activity to share for the 12 Months of Montessori series this month. I've truly been stressing about it! But, it finally occurred to me, that I just can't share an "activity" with you, but that I need to be honest. 

Henry is not interested in math right now. And, that's O.K.! I mean, he knows how to count from 1 to 20ish. He can skip count by 10 up to 100 -- sometimes. He knows how to tell time, and basic shapes. And, that's O.K.! 

I think a lot of people think about Montessori and assume excellence in math. I mean, have you seen the beautiful math materials?! I'm drooling over here. 

The young children are adding, subtracting, counting to 10,000, doing division, understanding fractions. It's simply amazing. And, Henry has no interest. And, that's O.K.!

Montessori is so much more than beautiful materials. At it's heart it is about following the child, its about meeting the child where the child is and accepting that. Your interests, don't need to be their interests. It's also about trust. Trusting that your child will eventually learn basic math skills and that their pace is more important than yours.

Sometimes you just need to put your own desires aside and know that children are programmed to learn. As Maria Montessori said: 

“We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.” ~ Maria Montessori, Absorbent Mind

For now, I'm trusting that Henry knows what he wants to learn and what he has to learn. He's motivated and driven to learn everything he can about his interests -- which right now is geography and reading. Those are the things that make him tick. The things that get his wheels turning. And, that's O.K.! 

So, what do I do in the mean time about math? Because, obviously math is important. He needs to understand mathematical ideas and principals -- eventually. 

  • I don't push it, but I will suggest it. I never force him to choose a work he is uninterested in. Sometimes, Henry just needs a gentle reminder of all the work in the classroom. And will choose math.  
  • Entice him -- move the math materials around. And provide beautiful materials for him to use if the mood strikes. 
  • Sneak it in! I use his interests to sneak some math in! "How many states are there?" "You've finished 2 words, how many words are left on this sheet?" "You ate a cookie, how many do we have now?" By making it conversational, he's absorbing concepts without directly focusing on the subject. Works every time! 

Do you have a child that is reluctant to learn a subject? How do you handle it?

12 Months of Montessori Learning!

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Series! Our topic this month is mathematics! Visit these wonderful bloggers for Montessori and Montessori-inspired math topics!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Favorite Rainbow Inspired Toys

Nora is going through a major sleep regression right now. She's never been a great sleeper and has yet to consistently sleep through the night, but over the past week or so, we've been lucky if we get two hours of sleep in a row. She's up constantly wanting to nurse, or sometimes wanting to play. Throw a dirty diaper and some screeching in for fun. 

This morning, Nora was up well before the sun, despite having been awake from 2:30 to 3:30 and several other times through the night. As she toddles around, it' easy for me to forget about what a miracle she is -- how lucky we are to have her here. Sleep or no sleep, she is truly our amazing rainbow baby! Instead of getting cranky or frustrated, I'm going to choose to celebrate her today, to remember just how lucky we are to not be getting any sleep. 

So in honor of my rainbow baby, here are some of my favorite Montessori-friendly rainbow themed toys! 

There! I don't know how you can look at these beautiful toys and materials and not be happy. Off to guzzle some coffee and snuggle my rainbow! 

Do you have any rainbow materials that you or your children love? I'd love to see them! 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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