WATCHING TV HAS NO LOGIC…

Who has ever witnessed murder? Who has ever been standing next to killed person? If you or your parents are not from police, most probably you haven’t.

Most of the people didn’t, only very very less people need to have this experience in their life and make themselves appear in such situations in which someone is loosing their life. But when we switch on TV we are witnessing more than just one murder per day.

It’s just a TV, isn’t it, you tell to yourself, but your brain doesn’t know it. Brain can not decide what is real experience and what the story from TV. Whatever you see becomes the physical reality. Whether you are crying, laughing, or you are scared it becomes reality for you. Your feelings make it real. And this brings lot of stress into your life.

You didn’t decide before coming to Earth that you need this experience in your life, you did not create this experience and still you are putting yourself through these experiences every day when watching TV. Your brain becomes confused. Things have no logic which causes disorder – the main reason for stress.

On other side the order is the base for everything good and right. Order in the universe is the foundation for all. The infant’s exploration of the real world through his senses brings him the world of abstract thought. Mental order has to be developed to achieve organizing skills and communicate thoughts in language. And therefore the first and most important assistance we can give to our child is the order within our own lives. Order, so important in the education of Maria Montessori.

Let’s switch off the TV for now and let’s bring the order to our lives, because only when we are living orderly life we can offer the same safe place for our children because only then such actions are natural to us.

BECOMING MINDFUL MOTHER

It’s 10 pm and my full powered 2 year old is still jumping  between the pillows. I just can’t stand it anymore and blast, almost like every day. I feel bad, I say ‘sorry’, I caress him…and I do it again next day – just like some magic circle that I can’t step out of.

♥♥♥

It’s 10 pm and my full powered 2 year old is still jumping between the pillows. I just can’t stand it anymore and I almost blast…but I suddenly remember to breath. I am working on being mindful parent.


Getting through the day with your little one can become challenging and lot of times difficult task. Never ending questions, needs, cleaning and after you think you are done, just doing it all over again… Being mother should be bliss and joy, isn’t it? Don’t we feel guilty thinking the opposite? Being mother is the most difficult job in the world and we have right to think whatever we want, without anyone judging us. Being mother is hell of work and stress. 

 

I believe children are sent to us for a purpose. It’s not only them who are coming to learn something from us, but we as mothers are getting the opportunity to work on ourselves. Children are our shadows, children are our mirrors. Only through them we see who we really are and we can change our lives to better and happier ones.

Many adults go through their day not mentally or emotionally present as they interact with their children. “The smile is there on my face but I don’t know why I smile…” Thinking about all the chores, work or anything else makes us dull, takes the life out of our soul and then it is easy for the brain to get stuck feeling stressed. And yes, stress doesn’t help us to be the best parent we can be.

We have a chance to work on ourselves, to improve the quality of our lives. The simple answer is mindfulnesswhich gives us the power to stop any type of stress response, which gives us the strength to fight our worst shadows.


“Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.” 


There is only one thing to remember: “I want to be conscious and aware of how I am parenting.” Calm parent equals calm child. Stressed parent equals lots of tantrums.

Once you catch yourself becoming angry, STOP and TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Do not do anything, do not say anything. Just breath and be. The more you calm yourself down the more you will come to state of mindfulness and the more you will be able to stay present and mentally and emotionally calm. Controlled breathing through nose prevents our brain from keeping us in state of stress, leaving us mentally present, logical, creative and kind.  Only when we take time to pause, we can follow the child. 


“Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.” – Maria Montessori


To be as mindful with children as one could possibly be helps to enjoy the time spent with children. Take a deep breath and seek to be mindful observer of your child, stay present and then only you will treasure the time you give to your family.

 

How to do Montessori without going broke?

Last weeks I could see lot of people being concerned about following Montessori method because it seems to be too expensive or already became too expensive. In fact, Maria Montessori started her teaching in the poor environment and worked with orphans, used only few special materials designed by herself. So if whoever tries to make you believe that Grimms rainbow, rocking board, busy board or wooden cutting fruits are Montessori musts and you really have to have them to be cool, you can be sure it’s just the good seller’s marketing tactics. 

Montessori method is something else then just colorful wooden educational toys. I can only recommend reading few books of Maria Montessori to understand what she really was talking about. The layman would buy all the wooden toys, because this is the first impression that people get when we speak about Montessori. You really don’t need to buy anything to be Montessori, the best tools are available everywhere around us and in nature. Less is always more in Montessori.

Montessori is a philosophy, not a brand.

Montessori is an application of concepts, not a bunch of stuff and fancy shelves. Use what is at hand right now without the urge to do unnecessary shopping.

As my son is getting older and older, I can see the things and activities that attracts him most at home are different from what I would imagine for him. Home environment is not a school and till you don’t do your homeschooling, it will never be. My beautifully arranged shelves are right now, in his 25 months, most of the time covered in dust but yes, I still continue rotating the materials and making new ones, because I LOVE IT. I am enjoying the order and cleanliness of newly arranged shelves and I admit I do it for myself 😀 He is just in the phase of practical life activities, doing everything from cleaning the wash basins to repairing broken stuff at home. What do we need to make child feel independent in practical life activities? Lot of time and PATIENCE, everything else is there around us, stool to climb on to repair broken light, knife to cut mushrooms, spray bottle to wash the windows 100 times a day, soap to clean the wash basin.

Maria Montessori designed her special material for children of 3 years and above. Only 11 months more and my shelves will get some use 😀 … that’s what I am imagining. To get the understanding which materials are Montessori and which just fancy educational toys, you can read Dr. Montessori’s own Handbook by Maria Montessori, it’s written in simple language and all her materials are nicely described. You can be sure you won’t read about Grimms rainbow in her work.

On the other side, Montessori materials can be handmade and you can find lots of ideas on  Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. Using your own materials made up from recycled items will make your Montessori way of living very reasonable.  Simple things like cutting the legs shorter on tables and chairs which you already have at home instead of buying fancy new furniture makes Montessori accessible to everyone.

Do not feel like you are not enough Montessori without having all that fancy stuff outside. Preparing your space for independence, practical life activities, patience and respect for the child are the most essential tools and all available for free.    

Bellydance with toddler

After 21 months of break and thinking I will never get back I danced again and I loved it. The first second I played my bellydance music I felt in love with it again and then every other minute again and again 🙂

Yes, I was professional bellydancer performing in Europe and India, I established ONA Women Centre and taught lot of ladies and girls to bellydance. But today I was dancing with my son and he loved it. Little bit ‘heavy’ start up but good to keep myself in good shape 😀

Click on photo to see some short piece of video.

Easter Eggs Montessori activity for toddlers

Easter is coming and I was thinking how to make it special for my little one who does not yet fully gets the meaning of Easter. And I got it! EGGS of course! So creative isn’t it? 😀

My son is just in that phase of life when we have to have scrambled eggs every day, well I have to have as he just loves to break and cook, eating is not that exciting.

So we bought 12 eggs from the street (yeah, here in India, you get eggs on the street)really cheap and rushed home. That happiness in his eyes when after breaking first 6 got another 6 eggs… 🙂 Once all broken he enjoyed making scrambled eggs which we gave to street dogs in the evening. Win – win situation for everyone. Mom has few minutes off, child learning experience and dogs food. Will surely repeat it in coming days.

IN THE KITCHEN WITH 17 MONTHS OLD TODDLER

We love to cook…Actually the truth is I don’t like to cook so much but as my little one is big fan of kitchen, all the utensils and specially gas stove we really spend majority of our time there. What one loving mother doesn’t do for her child 😀

Whenever my son is sleeping and I have some time I always think what to do. Is this the activity my little one would love to do or it’s still too difficult for him? Most of the time I answer to myself…”This he would love to do. This you can do with help of child. This is his favorite. This he would love to learn for sure.” So I end up writing blog and leaving all the work to my toddler at home. Child labor? What to do, he just loves all that adults hate, so as the best mother, I allow him to learn. 😛

There are lot of practical life activities we do at home and I would like to sum up all we did in the kitchen in his 17th month (yesterday he turned 18) 🙂

He loves to put things in pots and stir and stir and stir.

Pouring the rice from small jar.

First he breaks eggs and then adds pre-cooked homemade pasta.

Adding some food color to our homemade non-toxic play dough. You can read about it in the post Make super easy non-toxic play dough in 10 mins.

Dry spooning.

Officially this activity started as spices smelling activity but little one decided to make his own spices mix which we now use in kitchen.

Peeling the onion is awesome activity to develop fine motor skills.

Play dough cooking. How? See in older post.

Every morning preparing tea for dad…

…and coffee for mum 🙂

Another great activity for fine motor skills development.

 

How to start with MONTESSORI MOBILES FOR BABIES

The common mistake of the parents is that they think newborn babies do not remember anything and that’s the reason they keep little ones unattended and alone. But the first years are the most important ones. Whatever child’s absorbent mind soaks in is creating his personality. First 6 years child absorbs all the available information and learning happens without the efforts, naturally. If you are expecting baby or have one infant at home and you are reading this article you just started your Montessori lifestyle 🙂

You really don’t need a lot to prepare the environment for little one so you incorporate Montessori principles directly from birth. All you need is mattress on the floor/floor bed, mirror, mobiles, order and time. I would like to get more into details of Montessori visual and tactile mobiles.

Montessori mobiles are first specially designed materials used for the smallest babies to develop the eyes, vision and focus. As the sight of the baby changes also mobiles changes. You can make them at home by yourself or you can get ready made ones.

Montessori mobiles are completely different from typical mobiles you can get in toy stores. Made simply and precisely from beautiful materials, without noise interrupting babies attention, they are great for learning about fixating the eye sight, following the movement, focusing on colors and dimensions and later developing motor skills. 

HOW TO INTRODUCE VISUAL MOBILES:

You can introduce new mobile every 2 weeks or once you see your baby became bored of the recent one. You don’t have to get rid of the old mobile, you can again take it out whenever you feel like if your baby is its fan. Agastya just felt in love with his Gobi Mobile and his love lasted till he was 7 months old and managed to remove the sphere and throw it to our dog 🙂

Following weeks are approximate only. All depends on babies interest. So prepare your mobiles in advance, hang one and just watch your baby.

  1. 2 – 6 weeks old babyThe Munari Mobile – baby sees only contrasting colors of black and white. Munari Mobile is developmentally appropriate. Not overstimulating or overwhelming neither. Develops both vision and concentration.

                                                  Source: www.lecoinmontessori.com
  2. 6 – 8 weeks old babyThe Octahedron Mobile – “The octahedrons are designed to lay the foundations for future understandings of geometric proportion, relationships and patterns. “ At Home with Montessori. Octahedron introduces basic colors.

                                                                                                                                               Source: www.mothering.cz
  3. 8 – 10 weeks old babyThe Gobi Mobile – The Gobbi mobile consists of light weighted spheres (so they can move in air) in graduated shades of one colour to stimulate the visual sense.

    Photo source: http://howwemontessori.typepad.com
  4. 9 – 12 weeks old babyThe Dancers Mobile – This mobile moves relatively slowly so can be introduced also earlier which can be helpful for teaching baby to fixate the eye sight and focus. 
  5. 12 – 14 weeks old babyThe Rainbow, The Butterflies

HOW TO INTRODUCE TACTILE MOBILES:

  1. start around 12 weeksBell on the Ribbon – Hanging the bell on the elastic would be best idea as it comes back again and again. It is great for developing eye-hand coordination, concentration and learning about cause and effect.

    https://lambrineblog.wordpress.com
  2. start around 12 weeksThe Primary Colors Mobile – When moved, wooden spinning disks in primary colors (red, blue, yellow) attract the child’s attention. Serves as both tactile and visual mobile.

    http://www.beginningmontessori.com
  3. start around 12 weeksRing on the Ribbon – Easy to grasp and if hanged on elastic it returns back after releasing. Great to understand and learn about cause and effect.

    https://lambrineblog.wordpress.com

IMPORTANT POINTS:

  1. Hang them at the time of activity (when baby is not tired). It is ‘work’ for baby and he has to remain active. Mobiles are not used to make baby sleep.
  2. Hang them approximately 25-30 cm above the baby so he can not touch them. (First weeks babies can focus only 30 cm max.and only on slow moving things.)
  3. Once baby is around 3- 4 months old you can introduce tactile mobiles where baby is encouraged to practice batting skills.

When I started with Montessori with my son, I did not have any idea one day I will end up writing about all I learned on our Montessori journey so all the photos used above are from different bloggers. Surely check their websites 🙂 Happy Montessori.

Montessori apparatus – abstract concept made into concrete material.

Few days ago I got into conversation about Montessori toys…As I think about it deeper, the term ‘Montessori’ became just fashion and label for all educational and cool stuff out there but Maria Montessori’s philosophy and her material is about something else. 

Photo source: www.montessoricircle.com
What is Montessori material? 
Montessori material was designed by Maria Montessori herself. As she first worked with mentally handicapped children the apparatus was primarily made for their use. Some of materials were taken from Itard and Sequin and adjusted by Montessori according to the needs of the children in her House of Children. When she made her own apparatus for the normal children she had let the children work with them and she observed the frequency of use and the advantages derived from them. Through the trial and error method she modified her apparatus that allows to detect the defects at an early stage and correct them. For example the sound boxes can detect deafness and the color boxes can detect color blindness.
Maria Montessori is not talking about the toys. According to her, child in process of play works and that’s why she is talking about materials. Materials which have to be presented to child in such a beautiful and organized way that it feels like getting the gift. Only beautiful things attract our senses, allow the brain to work and create millions of new neural connections.

Characteristics of Montessori material:
* Natural materials
* Beautiful – all of the material is aesthetically pleasing.
* Neat and clean
* Complete – all of the material must be complete. This allows the child to finish through the entire piece of work without having to stop and find a missing piece.
* It has control of error – this calls to the child to make the corrections himself.
* Each material isolates one quality – this allows the child to focus on that one quality.
* Limited -there is only one of each material in the environment (building of patience in other children present) and only few qualities are presented to the child. The child is not given every color in the world, but only a selected few. This gives the child the key to the information so it peaks his curiosity.

“The technique of my method as it follows the guidance of the natural physiological and psychical development of the child, may be divided into three parts:
Motor education. Sensory education. Language.
The care and management of the environment itself afford the principal means of motor education, while sensory education and the education of language are provided for by my didactic material.” M.Montessori

Montessori categorized the Sensory Exercises into eight different groups: Visual, Tactile, Baric, Thermic, Auditory, Olfactory, Gustatory, and Stereognostic. The material she developed has either never been seen or never been used by the child in his everyday life. With this said however, the child will receive no new experiences through the use of the material. This was purposefully thought through in order to give the child what he knows, but might not yet realize, and to then refine his knowledge. In order to do this, the material is presented in a specific way or in a specific pattern.

“The didactic material for the education of the senses consists of:
(a) Three sets of solid insets.
(b) Three sets of solids in graduated sizes, comprising: (1) Pink cubes. (2)
Brown prisms. (3) Rods: (a) colored green; (b) colored alternately red and blue.
(c) Various geometric solids (prism, pyramid, sphere, cylinder, cone, etc.).
(d) Rectangular tablets with rough and smooth surfaces.
(e) A collection of various stuffs.
(f) Small wooden tablets of different weights.
(g) Two boxes, each containing sixty-four colored tablets.
(h) A chest of drawers containing plane insets.
(i) Three series of cards on which are pasted geometrical forms in paper.
(k) A collection of cylindrical closed boxes (sounds).
(l) A double series of musical bells, wooden boards on which are painted the lines used in music, small wooden discs for the notes.

                Photo source: http://julianagroup.com
Didactic Material for the Preparation for Writing and Arithmetic:
(m) Two sloping desks and various iron insets.
(n) Cards on which are pasted sandpaper letters.
(o) Two alphabets of colored cardboard and of different sizes.
(p) A series of cards on which are pasted sandpaper figures (1, 2, 3, etc.).
(q) A series of large cards bearing the same figures in smooth paper for the enumeration
of numbers above ten.
(r) Two boxes with small sticks for counting.
(s) The volume of drawings belonging specially to the method, and colored pencils.
(t) The frames for lacing, buttoning, etc., which are used for the education of the movements of the hand.
(u) Beads material.
(v) Binomial cube. ” M.Montessori

Most importantly, all of the material could be called “materialized abstractions”. This means that in Montessori materials, abstract concepts are made into concrete materials.
If above written is Montessori material then remaining toys can be called Montessori inspired or educational materials.  

Dry roses fine motor activities for toddlers.

It was a Women’s Day and I got the flowers,yaaaay 🙂 Once they dried out they became great material for sensory play, development of pincer grip, hand-eye coordination, strength in wrist and indirectly writing skills.

What to do with dry roses if your child is only 17 months (or less)?

Separate them into petals to develop pincer grip.
Grind them to develop strength in wrist and arm
‘Cook’ with them to develop circular movements of hand and arm.

Montessori inspired Holi Celebration for Toddlers

We live in India, country full of people, animals, music, smell and colors… There are all religions and cultures around us so we really get lot of opportunities to learn about different people and their different worlds. As my boy is becoming older I started to think about putting together a kind of calendar with all the world dates, hindu dates, christian dates, pagan traditions.

On Monday 13th of March we celebrated our first Holi together. And because I could not find any event suitable for toddlers I decided to host one and of course Montessori inspired.


Holi, celebrated in Phagun (March), the last month of the Hindu calendar is called ‘festival of colors’. It falls on the full moon day when bonfire (holi) is lit to drive away all the evil and purify the atmosphere. Holi symbolizes the destruction of demonic energies and start of new time, spring. Earlier ashes from the bonfire were applied on the body and remaining immersed in the flowing water invoking prosperity and protection. Nowadays colored powder has replaced ash. The bright colors symbolize new beginnings.


Yes, Holi is very nice festival and I can’t wait for next year once my son is older so we can dig deep into the topic.

For this day I decided to put up all the colorful materials. I divided activities into wet and dry ones. Age range : 15 – 22 months.

Practical life exercise – MIRROR CLEANING and Shape sticking with water
Practical life exercise – WATER POURING and WATER SPOONING
Dry spooning – Rangoli Making- pincer grasp development, eye-hand coordination
Dry spooning – colorful sand – pincer grasp development, eye-hand coordination
Shape sticking – pincer grasp development, eye-hand coordination
Homemade play dough – pincer grasp development, eye-hand coordination
Pincer grasp development, eye-hand coordination
Originally prepared as water pouring activity. Became water spraying activity. Great to develop strength in fingers and wrist, eye-hand coordination.
Rangoli Making – pincer grasp development, eye-hand coordination
Sensory bin with organic colors.
Water pouring activity – pincer grasp development, eye-hand coordination, focus.
Relax 🙂 Water painting.