With toddler in the kitchen – Our Montessori Prepared Kitchen

A play kitchen for Agastya (16 months). He can open all the kitchen doors independently now. Few weeks ago he couldn’t reach to upper portion but now he can manage himself. Kitchen has “growing legs” so can grow together with him.

All his cutlery, plates, bowls and food table mat are arranged in places marked by red tape. Like this they have they stable places and it is much easier for little one to remember what belongs where. It took him one day to absorb new information and apply it in real.

He can get his small glasses from top left shelf and glass jar from the right one.

Upper wardrobe works as storage for some of his snacks that he can take independently.

“Growing chair” is best for the child to teach him table manners and socialize. We can just move the seats up and down according to our convenience so he can climb up and down independently. Till now he didn’t find out the exact way of doing so but I give him maximum 2-3 days and he will be there. This chair doesn’t have table which is allowing him to enjoy the meal times and gives him feeling of importance.

Table mat you can make very easily by yourself. It again helps to define the space. He was very happy when he found out that spoon fits in its outline.

We have also small stand with two upper shelves for us and three down ones for Agastya. He can come, serve himself, use ingredients for his play cooking (which is not so often as he wants to cook in real on real gas with me) and on low shelf he has his basket with cleaning stuff. We do not keep toy food for play. Instead he plays with real pasta, walnuts, cinnamon sticks, dried grapes…

Learning tower is one of the best inventions in the world. We have it from the time Agastya was 12 months and it is one of the most widely used item in our house. As he has “kitchen fever” or “dry-liquid-pouring-stirring-mixing sensitive period” it is most often utilized in the kitchen but we already used it everywhere. Only two days ago he found out how to get in and out by himself.

 

25 PRACTICAL TIPS HOW TO START MONTESSORI AT HOME TODAY

Ok, so let’s say I have the idea who was Maria Montessori, what was she doing and what she aimed for. I know the basic principles, I know the respect for child is the most important and I also know that me as a guide of my child I should provide him the safe space where he can discover and thus learn independently by himself. 

Yes, theory – check.
But how to put all these information into our everyday life? How to incorporate them into our home environment? 
I find myself scattered lot of times. My mind is wandering from thought to thought from kitchen to bathroom and to bedroom and to creative space and and and… I had to (still have to) learn how to focus on one thing (and my son will not have same problem as we follow Montessori that’s teaching that mostly, isn’t it :P)
I got a baby to teach me what I was not taught in my childhood. He came to me to show me how to enjoy the moment to the fullest and focus focus focus.
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The one can not teach kids how to swim, how to climb the rock or how to focus on one task if the one can not do it by herself/himself. That’s what I recently discovered. Wah, that’s great, but what to do with this information?
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Learn to swim, learn to climb the rock or become Montessori in the core of your personality.  
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There are lot of information about Montessori method available on internet, in books or you can join training centers, preschools or mother toddler classes.
Only once I am sure THIS is my way, this is what my child and ME (along with him) need I can prepare our space and start our Montessori life, isn’t it?
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How to start Montessori with your child? 
1) Be sure you are not going to be disturbed, everyone is sleeping or out of house. It is difficult to think constructively with toddler hanging on your leg.
2) Take a pen, notebook, make a coffee and sit down. Get ready for some serious thinking.
3) Take a deep breath and focus!
4) You are going to write down the list of things that are the spine of Montessori method according to you. Try by yourself… You can check with my list below to get an idea of prepared environment (we don’t get into materials yet).
5) Now think! Write next to each and every point you mentioned how you can achieve that.
a) ADAPTATION OF SPACE
b) CHANGE OF APPROACH
6) When thinking about change of space,  think from the child’s point of view. Literally!
Go down on your knees, belly (depending on age of kid) and see what can he see. Can he switch on the light? Can he wash his hands? Can he choose his clothes? Can he lie down on bed once tired?
If you found out the answer is NO you just started the Montessori journey.
Now you see how much the child must be stressed when he has to rely on adult all the time he needs something.
7) Try to work with whatever is available. If you decide you need to buy something first you will never start. I will show you our Montessori home in next post.
8) Think about all the changes IN DETAIL so you don’t have to change it again and again. Children love the order and they just don’t cooperate when our house or we are in mess.
9) After all the changes done keep the house clean and neat. All should have it’s space so child learns. Order equals to clarity. Clarity equals to focus. Focus equals to peace.
10) When I find my boy disturbed, running from activity to activity, messing around I stop. I stop myself, let everything be just as it is (means lot of days without home made food) and clean the mess in my head.
11) Work on habit to clean after yourself. Not talking about toys or materials only. Our kids are watching and absorbing all they see.
Today I got amazed,my 16 months old took out CD from drawer and CLOSED THE DRAWER like it’s completely natural thing! 
12) When you think about your approach to child,  being Montessori mother (click to read When to crown yourself Montessori mother?) means to respect the child as human being, give him choices and respect the final choice (even if you don’t agree). Give him safe and prepared space to do everything by himself so he gets the feeling of independence and importance. Ask him to help you (provided he wants to) so he feels important part of your family.

13) Get rid of all the plastic toys. Go for soothing natural materials.

14) Learn about and apply minimalism.
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Tips on changes in the space:
1) Bathroom – stool to reach sink, soap, toothbrush available, towel on low positioned hook.
2) Toilet – potty at one place (can be marked by tape so child always knows where it is)
3) Bedroom – bed on the floor. 2-3 books available at the height of child. Space for his clothes,easily reachable for him with choice of 3 different shirts, pants…His dressing table should contain hairbrush and mirror also.
4) Kitchen – shelf for snacks and water, space to keep spoons, forks, plates.
5) By the door – keep a chair so he can wear his shoes, hanger in height of his shoulders and space for shoes.
6) Learning tower (I will blog about this point in few days).
7) High chair without table
8) Small table with chair for eating, working
9) Creative space
10) Reading space
11) Cleaning material space
Take these tips as a guideline as for every family there are different ways of how to do and what to do.
Just remember it really doesn’t have to be lavish and most cool Montessori furniture the world has ever seen. You can come up with lots of creative ideas once thinking about it.
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HAPPY MONTESSORI

TIPS ON HOW TO FOLLOW UP THE SENSITIVE PERIODS OF YOUR CHILD.

You must have observed that your child gets very much involved in whatever he does. He is literally possessed by doing same thing again and again and then you proudly tell everyone how your son is going to be pianist, famous painter, architect… And here we go,after 1 month you already forgot he was that awesome artist to be and he will for sure be cook now.. Oh yes, he is going to be very famous chef. 

Everyone around us think how caring son we have. He gives food to people, he gives money to people, he gives everything to everyone. So generous 16 month old toddler 😛

But no, this is Sensitive Period for giving. He loves the process of giving – grabbing – stretching the arm – reaching and contacting the other person who gets happy. This process makes him satisfied and he will just give and give till this period is lasting. 

Dear mum, Montessori named these ‘what-I-love-today-activities’ as Sensitive Periods.
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What is Sensitive Period?
Sensitive Period is the block of time in child’s life. Child under the age of six goes through very specific periods of interest and becomes completely absorbed with some one particular activity or characteristic of the environment.
He just doesn’t bother about washing his hands even though yesterday he was complete freak for water based activities and in last one month you have surely seen more bathrooms in the world then in whole your life.
Sensitive periods have their meanings and it’s waste of time and energy to go against them and mold the child according to your convenience.
They disappear just as they arose. Once the Sensitive Period is over it will never come back in the same way. It can repeat again but with very less urge and interest as before. Child’s capacity was (or was not) filled up. He can still learn new skills but with much bigger difficulties. His brain doesn’t absorb the information, it has to learn and memorize it.
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What is the child experiencing?
Just a pure joy. He is driven by internal motivation to learn and develop. Nature is the one who takes care of that and child can not fight it. His energy and dedication are extraordinary but terminate just abruptly as they began.
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But I can’t hold him at the sink while washing the hands hundreds times a day…
Yes, often we can’t follow up with child. We either don’t have time, or can’t because of physical difficulties. But it’s easy. Just find some way how to allow him to do what his heart cries for. You can’t hold him? Put a small stool next to sink. You can’t cook with baby in one hand? Make your learning tower and keep it next to your work table. You can’t hold him while playing with switches? Find some lower positioned ones or make extensions with the switch in his height… It’s so easy we just have to find time to think about it.
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How to understand my child is going through Sensitive Period?
* child completely melts into activity he is doing
* he is repeating the task over and over without tiring because of his own will
* he is focused
* child possesses tremendous effort towards the task
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What extra to do as a mother to support the Sensitive Period?
All we have to do is to follow nature’s plan for the child’s self-formation. We can not determine at what age a particular challenge is best dealt with – such as toilet learning, for example. There are optimal moments for mastering each skill and we have to cooperate with the energies of childhood.
You can also introduce other activities that support the emergence of the skill.
Here are only few examples of the Sensitive Periods.

What NOT TO DO when my child is playing?

Imagine…

You just came to your new office. Full of excitement you are walking to your table. Wearing your favorite skirt and aaah those new shoes you were saving for this moment. You smile at every new colleague on the way. You feel so confident and so happy. All is new and you love new challenges. Then you move your chair and sit. Look all over your table and proudly turn on the computer…

“Wooooow, awesomeeeee!” You turn and people standing around you watching you so closely you can’t even breath are nodding their heads for you. “Oh, you must be the most clever woman living on this planet! Look at her! Isn’t she the most clever woman? Let’s clap for her. Yaaaayyyy”… You just don’t understand what has just happened. “Heeey, my friend didn’t see how awesomely you pressed that button..Come on, show her! Show, show!” You really don’t feel like to do it again so you are just looking at all these people till the woman behind you takes your hand and presses the button again and again so you can listen to another yaaaaayyyyy chores for few more minutes. Feeling all that overexcited attention you just lost your interest in new job…And so much excitement it was at the beginning…

Now let’s try it little bit differently.

Imagine…

You just came to your new grandmas’ house. Full of excitement you are walking to your new play corner. Wearing your favorite skirt and aaah those shoes you were saving for this moment. You smile at everyone around you. You feel so confident and so happy. Every day brings some new challenges and you love it. Since you heard your grandparents have new house with awesome corner for you, you find yourself imagining how you will play and what toys they must kept for you…You sit and look all over your space, take that awesome colorful pencil and start to draw…

“Wooooow, awesomeeeee!” You turn as you got distracted and people standing around you watching you so closely you can’t even breath are nodding their heads for you. “Oh, you must be the most clever girl living on this planet! Look at her! Isn’t she the most clever girl? Let’s clap for her. Yaaaayyyy”… You just don’t understand what has just happened. “Heeey, your daddy didn’t see how awesomely you draw..Come on, show him! Show, show! Don’t feel shy. Why are you shy?” You really don’t feel like to do it again so you are just looking at all these people till your grandma behind you takes your hand and draws some lines again and again so you can listen to another yaaaaayyyyy chores for few more minutes. Feeling all that overexcited attention you just lost your interest in new play space…And so much excitement it was at the beginning…

Do you feel comfortable in any of the situations? Then why kids should? There are millions of situation daily when we just kill the excitement and curiosity of our children. Incurious child = disaster. Not now, not tomorrow but later in his life. He will just not have the sparkle in his eye, no questions in his head, no answers to the difficulties that arise in front of him, he will not have opportunity to discover “light bulb” or “radio” as we-adults took that chance from him in his childhood. 

What NOT TO DO when my child is playing:

  • Never distract the child that is deep in play. His brain works 100% when in the state of flow. Play is work of your child. After new information is obtained he can move on to other activity. If we talk about distraction, we talk about both negative and positive one. Means, “wow you did it so well” is causing same disturbance as “oh god,let me show you”.
  • Do not choose the activity for child. Yes, you can offer him some options but let him choose what is best for him at that moment. Tomorrow it can be something completely different. These urges to some activities we call Sensitive Periods. It is important to follow his lead as he is master of his brain and he is being led by the strong power of nature. It’s nature because of which our kids are walking, running, talking, singing, memorizing…It’s not us-parents. Every child can master all the possible abilities because he has that predispositions but if they are not honored and developed in proper way he will just stay illiterate. Living with a wolves will make him like a wolf.
  • Do not interfere in your child’s play till he doesn’t ask for it. As adults we really don’t understand about the awesomeness of the world how our children can see it. Then why to show him how to do some things faster, easier, better if he doesn’t want it? Child is playing because of the pleasure he gets during the process of play. He is not rushing to get the result. He is not stepping on the escalator because he wants to reach second floor…He just loves the escalator. So do not come up with suggestions that will stop your child from exploring and being happy in the process of playing.
  • Do not force your child to finish any activity, if he doesn’t want means he is done. He absorbed whatever was possible and now he can move on.
  • Do not switch the TV or radio on. Do not add anything extra to the space where child is playing. His senses and brain are developing best while isolated. When visual play is going on do not add on auditory experiences. The brain will get disturbed and sight will not develop to its best.
  • Do not rush! We always have soooo much of work around the house, outside the house, everywhere…Do you feel that you give your child whole day’s time and he is still demanding more and more? Just stop yourself! Give your child and yourself one hour of a day where you are 200% his play mate. No cook, no charwoman, no wife, only mother. WHEN OUR CHILD WAS BORN WE BECAME MOTHERS NOT HOUSEWIVES! 
  • Do not check your mobile. That’s so disrespectful to your child. Imagine you are small baby and while you are having your daily dose of breast milk you mamma is browsing facebook behind your head…I must admit, I am still fighting with this one :/

What other DO NOTS would you suggest?

When to crown yourself ‘MONTESSORI MOTHER’?

“Hi, I am montessori mother!” … Sounds cool, isn’t it? But what does it really mean? When are you enough mature, enough clever, enough suitable, enough skilled, enough, enough, enough… to fit into the definition of the term ‘MONTESSORI MOTHER’? You really do not need to know all the dates from the history books, sizes of biggest sea mammals or the speed of the fastest animal. All this and more you can find in books and on internet… To be Montessori mother means to work on yourself, on your inner qualities and to let the old models of education vanish. Understanding the wisdom and capability of child is the most important.

Points to be met to win the title ‘MONTESSORI MOTHER’ are not so far away and are more easily obtainable than one could think. It is just so natural that once you break that wall which was built around you by the old system of school and parenting you will know everything and you won’t need any books or blogs to guide you.

  1. Never forget, your child is the genius. He was borne as genius and will remain like that if you let him. That is the real meaning of ‘parenting’. To let…Offer child safe space to discover the world. DO NOT SAY ‘NO’ INSTEAD SHOW HIM HOW TO DO IT RIGHT. Let him develop his own will and do not pass on him your fears and worries. Those are only yours.
  2. Be present. Nothing less nothing more. Let your child know you are there for him anytime he needs but do not interfere.
  3. Be passive at the moment of discovery. Let the child unfold the truth with his own intelligence. Only then he is learning. Stay active in the moment of true need.
  4. Be the positive model. Do only what you want to child to do. They are one big absorbent mind sucking all the information in like a sponge picking up the behaviors and qualities that an adult models for them. You set the foundation for living in social environment and it must be met with the respect for child’s well being.
  5. Slow down. Our everyday activities are very complex for the brain of small person who just came to our world and really doesn’t know anything. Show the process in slow motion divided into phases.
  6. Do not repair the mistakes of the child. For you it might look like mistake but for someone else not. Everyone has different way. And so does your child. If you feel it is mistake and you really need those shoes standing in one perfect line just put them there once the child do not see. Always remember it is the best he can do that time and by repairing his ‘mistakes’ he can loose interest to do it again..and child without interest equals adult.
  7. PRESENT the activity. Do not just SHOW. Think about it as giving a gift to child. Wrap it in nice colors, natural materials and offer on beautiful tray.
  8. Present the activity once or twice but with full concentration on how you do it. Slowly, steadily, easily.
  9. Do not talk abstractly about the things your child doesn’t know yet. How can he know that real drums have different color membrane than his small ones when he never saw it? Always follow the pattern REAL – ABSTRACT.
  10. Stay in the present. Do not run away into the past nor future. Be consistent and stable entity in child’s life.
  11. Simplify the environment of the child so his mind is not distracted.
  12. Study more about: Absorbent mind, Sensitive periods, Natural tendencies and Four planes of Development. We can not give what we don’t have. We can not teach them to love animals if WE don’t love them. So learn about everything in this world to keep your child genius.
  13. BE A GUIDE NOT A TEACHER!

HAPPY MONTESSORI MOTHERING TO ALL AWESOME MAMMAS.

10 NOTES FOR MONTESSORI PARENT

Imagine…

You are 4 years old. You have small body, small shoes, small clothes…The minute hand on the clock finally points to that sweet white puppy. For a while you imagine how would you play with it, how would you train it. It’s time to go home and you are waiting for your mum to unlock your wardrobe. Before that you ask the teacher to take you to toilet. It was very exhausting day. Even before you entered the building this morning you understood it was playtime. You could hear loud banging, shouting, laughing and … cry… As you entered the room you got overwhelmed by all those bright colors, toys and confusion. You played with some doll, built a house for her from plastic blocks, run here and there… Then your mum comes, ties your shoe laces, makes you wear the coat, and as you rush back home you imagine what your mum must have cooked today.

You are 4 years old. You have small body, small shoes, small clothes…The minute hand on the clock finally points to 1pm, oh that sweet white puppy. For a while you imagine how would you play with it, how would you train it. It’s time to go home and you are waiting for your mum. You rush to unlock your wardrobe. Before that you use the toilet. It was very peaceful day. When you entered the room this morning you understood it was welcome time. You could hear your friends talking and laughing. The teacher warmly greeted you and invited you to sit in the circle and the day started by singing the song. You just love that peaceful and organized space and smell of wood. You worked on your water pouring skills, built a pink tower, learnt about the frog life cycle and measured the size of the biggest bird in the world…. Then your mum comes, you are tying the shoe laces, wearing the coat, and as you walk back home full of peace and feeling of achievement you imagine what will you and your mum cook today.

Can you see the difference in two approaches? Which one do you like more?

Montessori education is different from conventional ways of teaching and proves to be more perfect and efficient. The curriculum was developed by Dr.Maria Montessori, who believed that children are not “empty vases” waiting for us-adults to pour the information in them. The children have the potential which is there waiting to be unleashed.

Montessori mistress (the word teacher is not used) is treating children with respect which enables them to realize their self-worth and abilities which is crucial for effective learning. Acknowledging them as individuals helps them to grow their potential to a greater degree then otherwise.

Education is a natural process carried out by children themselves, not by teachers. Teachers can only help the great work that is being done by offering prepared environment, materials and presentations.

Children learn in the process. Children learn while working with hands not while listening to lectures.

NOTES TO STICK ON FRIDGE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montessori works for us and will for you. We will get through all the points in next posts. Stay tuned 🙂