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How Poetry Engages Young Children

 

Remember how much you loved poetry as a child? The songs, the nursery rhymes, the rhythm and meter of sing-songy poetry that engrained itself in your brain and that you can still recall to this day?

Poetry is powerful, and in the Montessori classroom, that power is recognized.

Poetry Speaks, a large volume of classics encased in a beautiful hard cover and containing cds featuring the poets themselves reciting their own poetry, has been a bestseller for years. The child-friendly version, Poetry Speaks to Children, is a must-have to introduce pre-schoolers to the world of language. Featuring famous writers such as Langston Hughes and Ogden Nash, the book engages young ones by tapping into their inherent desire for rhyme and rhythm. Recited repeatedly, the poems are easy to memorize and give children a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Take this a step further by watching YouTube videos of other children reciting poetry, and your kids will be extra motivated to do the same. Aside from the joy of discovering sounds and the entertainment value found in songs and poetry, it turns out that early exposure to this form of literature is crucial to later reading success.

“When children from six months to six years are exposed to the various sounds and rhymes awash in children’s literature, they are better prepared for the task of decoding the words in text when they begin to read,” explained Maryann Wolff and Stephanie Gottwald, researchers specializing in literacy.

So what can you do at home to make poetry part of your child’s life? It can be as simple as enjoying a Poem of the Week! Choose a fun, easy poem appropriate to your child’s readiness level. Read the poem aloud several times, then encourage your child to join in whenever he recognizes a word or phrase. Create a Poetry Basket containing the items mentioned in the poem. This can include found items or ones you make yourself. As you continue to read the poem aloud throughout the week, point to or have your child select the corresponding items in the basket. Now your child is making word, sound, and visual connections, all key to becoming a future reader.

The beauty of poetry is that you and your children can evolve from very simple to quite complex selections as they mature and grow in their intellectual abilities. You can change poetry selections based on seasons and holidays, and you can even create a unit of study that contains poetry applicable to a theme, such as the ocean or wildlife. Your child’s birthday month is a special time to explore poetry all about your child, at first written by you, and eventually by your child! Because poetry varies wildly in form and format, you’ll never face boredom or redundancy. Each time you explore a new poem, you will open your child to a new world of sound and language that will entertain and delight.

There’s a reason why nursery rhymes have been around for centuries. Parents recognize the value in these early forms of literature. Reading creates a natural time of bonding and a shared experience children will treasure forever. So don’t hesitate to introduce your children to poetry and take every opportunity to expand their world of language.

January 19th, 2018

Posted In: Montessori Education, Tips

How Behavior Can be Influenced by Sensory Processing Disorder

Behavior problems in school interfere with the educational process for all students in the classroom. If your child’s behavior is getting him in trouble at school, it may be due to issues with sensory processing disorder.

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What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is a condition where the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information received via the senses.

What are Sensory Processing Issues?
Some children with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things, such as sounds, bright lights, or the touch of a shirt on their skin. Oversensitive kids respond easily to sensory stimulation and may find it to be too much to deal with. Examples of these behaviors are:

  • Inability to endure bright lights and loud noises, like police or ambulance sirens
  • Easily distracted by common background noises
  • Fearful of being touched or hugged…especially when caught by surprise
  • Exceedingly fearful of swings and other playground apparatus
  • Often bump into people, furniture, etc. Their concept of personal space may be skewed.
  • Difficulty recognizing the amount of force they’re using; for example, they may unknowingly slam down objects.
  • Experience meltdowns when overwhelmed

On the other end of the spectrum, under sensitive children seek out sensory stimulation. They may:

  • Constantly desire touching people or objects, regardless of whether it is socially acceptable
  • Have problems recognizing personal space
  • Have a very high tolerance for pain
  • Can’t realize their own strength
  • Fidgety, can’t sit still
  • Enjoy activities that include jumping, bumping, or crashing
  • Desire fast, intense movement

Unfortunately, behaviors influenced by sensory processing disorder may be at the root of those phone calls from the school reporting your child’s disruptive behavior. These behaviors can also be mistaken for ADHD, as the symptoms overlap, making diagnosis and treatment difficult.

Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues

Parenting a child with sensory processing issues can be quite stressful. Currently, there is no medication available to treat sensory processing issues. However, therapy coupled with everyday changes can make life easier for both of you. Here are some ideas to try.

  • Learn as much as you can about the symptoms of sensory processing issues, as well as available treatments.
  • Identify patterns in your child’s behavior to further anticipate situations that may be difficult for her.
  • Help your child learn what things are appropriate to touch.

January 9th, 2018

Posted In: Tips

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Stop the whining!

Research has confirmed whining as the most annoying sound to the human ear. Unfortunately, parents of preschoolers face the sound of whining on a regular basis.  Most agree that whining is a habit that they hope their kids will break soon.

Have you ever wondered why kids whine? Is it purposely or unintentionally? What is the best way to get children to behave? Moreover, should you ignore the behavior or give in to your children’s demands?

Preschoolers know that they can get your attention quickly if they use a certain tone of voice. This is why children start whining when they are tired, hungry, or thirsty. They may also whine when they are not feeling well. In these cases, it is best to comfort your children and attend to their needs.

Unfortunately, for children, negative attention is better than no attention at all. They are aware that whining works. Whether you have said no to an extra cookie, more screen time, or a candy bar from the checkout aisle, they know that they will succeed in getting what they want as soon as you hear the sound of their high-pitched wail.

How to un-whine children

As parents, we are often embarrassed by the sudden outbursts of our children, especially when they are misbehaving in a public place. We usually give in to their demands and assume that simply getting them what they want will prevent any extreme meltdowns. However, not addressing the behavior can cause it to continue well into the child’s teenage years.

If the child is throwing a tantrum because of any physical discomfort, tending immediately to their needs will solve the problem. Nevertheless, if the child is acting up for their own advantage, here are some ways to put a cork in the bottle.

  1.  Take action

To avoid whining, respond to the first call of action by your child. For example, if you are on the phone and your son comes up to talk, make eye contact and signal for him to wait. Attend to your child as soon as you are finished with the conversation. Additionally, make sure you avoid potential tantrums by sticking to a daily schedule and keeping snacks and water in your purse.

  1. Relate to them

Children have a habit of asking for things that they cannot have. For example, they might ask for more than one gift at the party. Instead of scolding, make them understand that there is only one gift for each child at the party. If your daughter pleads at the top of her lungs for one of the candies from the checkout aisle at the grocery store, divert her attention by asking her to choose the apples or the flavor of ice cream for dinner.

  1. Be calm

Ask any parent and they will admit that it is hard to stay calm in such situations. Nevertheless, don’t mimic your child’s tone of voice by shouting back. Instead, speak in a calm voice and say something like, “I don’t understand when you don’t use your normal voice. Please speak properly so I can understand.”

  1. Give rewards

When your child does repeat his request in a normal voice, don’t hesitate to respond immediately. Of course, this does not mean you have to give in to their unreasonable demands, but you can appreciate their effort by saying, “Wow that sounded so nice, but I am sorry you can’t have more cookies now. It’s almost time for dinner.”

  1. Don’t give in

Giving in to children’s demands is the best way to get them off your back, especially when you are tired or preoccupied yourself. Simply saying, “Go ahead, do whatever you want!” seems to be the ideal solution for many of us but if you make it a habit, be prepared to hear a lot more whining in the future.

Connect with children

Ignore your child’s whining. However, if he continues to throw a tantrum after you have attempted several times to make him calm down and pain or illness is not the cause, then ask yourself if you have been too busy lately. Has a new sibling joined the family? Or perhaps your family is going through a life-changing event such as death, divorce, or remarriage. Children often find it difficult to cope with changes in their life and convey their frustrations and confusion through whining.

If this is the reason, then try to  reconnect with your children. Spend more time with them. Read stories. Play games. Simply spending a few minutes of your day with your children will make a huge difference in their behavior and give them the positive attention  they require.

 

January 7th, 2018

Posted In: Tips

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What to do when your preschooler lies

As a parent of a preschooler, you must have noticed children telling occasional fibs or tales about scenarios that never really happened. And just like any other parent, you must have ignored these ‘untruths’ without questioning the child. Even though the random stories narrated by your child don’t mean you have a future criminal on your hands, you should teach children the importance of honesty from an early age so they don’t have to rely on lying to resolve unwanted situations.

Before we discuss the reasons kids lie, let me assure you that it’s perfectly normal for kids between the ages of 3 and 5 to tell untruths now and then. They are not trying to deceive you in any way, as children of such young age are not aware that lying represents a lack of moral character. At this age, the line between reality and fantasy is still a bit fuzzy which is why their stories may sound somewhat exaggerated. However, it is important to start teaching children the difference in their early years to prevent the habit from becoming customary.

Why do preschoolers lie?

There are many reasons children lie to their parents, teachers, and caregivers. One of the primary reasons is to please the adults around them and/or avoid getting in trouble for any mischief. For example, a child who is often punished by parents is encouraged to lie in order to cover something up so they don’t get in trouble. Additionally, preschoolers who yearn for their parents’ attention might mistakenly believe that the only way to interact with them is through lying. Although the child is aware that he or she will be punished for the wrongful act, sometimes parental attention can only be won through inappropriate behavior rather than appropriate conduct.

Sometimes children lie because they are confused. As mentioned above, young children are unaware of the difference between fantasy and reality. They are unsure of what really happened and may innocently fill in the gaps with their active imaginations.

Children often fib to adults to get something they want, as well. For example, they may tell their grandma that they are allowed to have candies before dinner when in reality, they are restricted. Moreover, children make up stories to feel important in front of others, especially their peers.

Most importantly, preschoolers learn to lie from us. We adults often tell “white lies” as an excuse for something we were unable to do. Although we may have a good reason to lie, our children will consider it acceptable behavior and do the same in the future.

Ways to encourage honesty in children

The best way to make children understand the difference between truth and non-truth is to emphasize the importance of honesty in your family. Praise children for telling the truth and let them know that you feel disappointed when they lie to you. Share stories about honesty with children to teach the importance of being trustworthy. One good example of moral stories is The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which explains that lying can have serious consequences.

Connect with children

Reassure your preschooler that you love her no matter what. If she accidentally spills juice on your carpet, don’t scold her. Instead, be sympathetic and tell her to be more careful next time. Have her clean up with you and avoid making a big fuss over it.

Don’t accuse

Avoid situations in which your child has to lie. For example, if you find toys in the living room, beware of statements of blame. Instead, encourage confession from your children by saying, “I wonder how these toys got here?” or “I wish someone would help me clear up the area.”

Don’t punish

If your preschooler admits to doing something wrong, don’t be angry or punish them for their behavior. Children who are punished for the smallest of mistakes often become rebellious and avoid telling adults the truth in the future. Appreciate children for owning up to their mistakes and tell them that you trust them no matter what.

Avoid judgments

We all know that parental labels like “You are a good girl” or a “brave child” go a long way in building children’s self-esteem. The same goes for negative labels such as “You are a liar” or “Why can’t you ever tell the truth?” For children, these labels can become their identity. Rather than blaming them for what they did wrong, encourage them to be honest by saying, “This is not like you” and “You are always truthful to me.”

Be a role model

Children exhibit what we show them. Just like you, children can also foresee your untruths, which is why it is important that you model truth in front of them. As discussed above, children learn to lie from us. To make sure it doesn’t become a habit in your children, avoid the white lies that are a part of your daily living and be a role model of honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

December 20th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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The Benefits of Independent Learning

If you have a child, chances are the word “independent” causes some concern. With all the trouble children can get into, leaving them alone can be a daunting idea. However, in the right circumstances and with a watchful eye and guiding hand, independence can be a blessing for your child.

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Standard classrooms involve a teacher in front of a group of children going over the curriculum assigned to them. Whether they like it or not, your child must understand the information in the way it is provided. Montessori classrooms, on the other hand, allow your child tons of ways they can approach the lessons. Instead of a single lesson taught to the class, children can safely roam through the learning materials provided in their classroom under the watchful eye of their teacher. This way they can benefit from having a say in their learning, and reap the benefits of their independence.

Independent learning:

Boosts Confidence – When children are encouraged to learn independently, they take greater pride in their work. Because it is their choice to learn and they are progressing, they will be more confident in their abilities to learn as well. Don’t be surprised if your child comes running to you to tell you what they learned today!

Enables Exploration & Elicits Interest in Learning – Children have vastly different interests from each other, and the only way for them to find a topic that resonates with them is through exploration. Montessori classrooms contain many different learning materials, which will allow your child to find something they like. Once they do, they will be motivated to continue learning and grasp the concepts better because they are interested in the subject.

Allows for Collaborative Learning – A huge part of Montessori classrooms is their emphasis on social learning. By encouraging children to communicate rather than sit quietly and listen, children can share their knowledge and learn from other students. This allows them to form greater connections with the information because they are hearing, seeing, and speaking it.

Children can be hard to control, but you’d be surprised how far a little independence goes when it comes to their education. Boosted confidence, an interest in learning, and developing social skills are all great benefits that will stick with your child as they progress through school. Independent learning is a great way to ensure your child receives the best opportunities to learn and helps keep their development as well-rounded as possible.

December 19th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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The beauty of Montessori materials

 

Maria Montessori had a view that education should prepare children for all aspects of life. She believed that each child is unique and must be free to learn at his or her own pace. To support her theory further, Dr. Montessori designed several materials and techniques that are an integral part of the Montessori prepared environment. Each set of materials focuses on concepts that compliment the curriculum.

Visit the prepared classrooms of Montessori Kids Universe Sugarland and you will see several different sets of materials on low shelves. This is because Maria Montessori emphasized giving children ‘freedom within limits.” The materials are easily accessible and children are free to choose one according to their interest. Once the students are finished with their material, they are encouraged to put everything back on shelves before moving on to the next activity.

The greatest advantage of the Montessori materials is that they are “self-correcting,” which means that students will notice their errors and don’t need adult supervision to rectify their mistakes. This improves their problem solving skills and makes them more confident and content with their accomplishments.

Parents who are new to Montessori often find it hard to understand the importance of these materials. To help you out, here is a list of some of the most popular Montessori materials and how they are used in the prepared environment.

  1. Moveable Alphabet

Montessori doesn’t teach the alphabet in the traditional way. Instead of A, B, C, the children are taught the phonetic sounds of these letters. Once they are familiar with the sounds, they are transitioned to the moveable alphabet that allows them to recognize the letters they are used to hearing. The main purpose of the moveable alphabet is not to teach children how to read, but to prepare them for writing.

  1. The Golden Beads

The Golden Bead material is included in the mathematical curriculum and introduces the children to the decimal system. Initially, children around the age of four use the golden beads as an introduction to counting. As the child progresses, the same set of material allows them to perform sums of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  1. The Pink Tower

The Pink Tower may look like an ordinary set of blocks to any person who is not familiar with the Montessori curriculum. However, it is one of the most recognized Montessori materials and teaches children a variety of skills including coordination and dimension. Most importantly, the tower is self-correcting since the child is immediately able to grasp his or her mistakes when the tower is completely built.

  1. Brown stairs

Similar to the Pink Tower, the Brown Stairs is another sensorial material that teaches children the different dimensions. As the name suggests, the children use the blocks to build “stairs” starting from the broadest to the narrowest. This allows them to further enhance their learning of sizes and shape.

  1. The world map

The World Map puzzle instills geography knowledge and skills. The cutouts of different continents teach children the name of seven continents as well as the names of their countries, their capital cities, and their demographic location on the globe.

  1. The Checkerboard

An advanced mathematic material, the Checkerboard helps children learn multiplication. The checkerboard material contains colorful beads and a large painted board. However, unlike the traditional methods that force children to memorize the multiplications table, the Checkerboard teaches abstract mathematical skills that allow them to calculate large numbers without counting.

  1. Practical Life Materials

As discussed in previous blogs, Montessori emphasizes practical life skills that help children in their daily routine and make them more independent and resilient in the future.  The practical life materials are a norm in Montessori classrooms and include the basics such as broom, dustpan, mop, and duster. Each item is child-sized so the children can conveniently access the items without asking for adult’s assistance. Children are also assigned duties during the school hours such as cleaning the shelves, watering the plants, and giving food to the class pet. This makes the children more responsible and instills them with a sense of pride for their contribution.

 

Montessori materials, while seemingly simple, can be used in a complex manner and through every stage of a preschooler’s development. More importantly, the materials develop a love of learning, advanced critical thinking skills, and the ability to problem-solve, even at this young age.

 

December 7th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Montessori and Children with Learning Disabilities

Is Montessori effective for children with learning disabilities?

Today’s classrooms are comprised of children who benefit from differentiated learning. Some children have learning disabilities, such as attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, or dysphasia. Montessori schools can be quite beneficial for special needs students because they encourage them to work at their own pace.

Montessori_student

The Montessori Method promotes the belief that children learn best by doing. Montessori does not implement a one-size-fits-all curriculum, which aids students of different learning styles. The creator of the Montessori Method, Dr. Maria Montessori, worked with children with learning disabilities. In fact, the Montessori Method was initially inspired by students with special needs. It embraces the unique qualities within each child. Each student determines their own learning pace while staying motivated throughout the process.

With the Montessori Method, learning occurs through active pursuit of experiences. Students are encouraged to progress at their own speed. They begin a new activity once they are comfortable with what they have learned from the previous activity. They can work alone, with a partner, or within a group, remaining with a specific learning activity as long as they want and progressing onto the next one when ready.

Additionally, children receive an abundance of personal attention from instructors…an effective technique for individuals with learning disabilities. Instead of sitting at the front of the classroom, Montessori teachers move around the room observing and assessing each student while providing needed support.

Another positive outcome is that children with learning disabilities often discover that the multi-sensory, interactive setting created within the Montessori environment can be stimulating, resulting in the ideal venue for learning. In addition, many special needs children benefit from witnessing other children acting in what is perceived as normal and appropriate behavior.

Because the pace of learning is typically established by the children, they tend to stay motivated and feel better about school. Most special needs students also benefit from the increased personal attention, a trademark of Montessori schools.

So, is Montessori effective for children with special needs? We say…absolutely! Montessori is intended to help all children reach their potential at their own unique pace. The Montessori classroom is a community where children learn from each other and everyone contributes without feeling ahead or behind in relation to classmates.

December 6th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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The Montessori Mat at Work

A few years ago while scouring for a Montessori for my son, I had the chance to visit several primary classrooms. Apart from the well-organized and attractive classroom environment, I was impressed with the different sets of materials that were being used effortlessly by the children. Another feature that appealed to me was the use of work mats. Although there were quite a few child-sized tables and chairs in the classroom, many children were utilizing the small mats for their individual activities.

At that time, I thought they were given to the children to minimize mess and make cleanup easy. However, I was wrong and cleaning had nothing to do with it. In fact, the lightweight work mats hold significant importance in the Montessori prepared environment.

The Montessori work mat is used to reinforce the primary principle of the Montessori prepared environment – freedom within limits. The mat defines a child’s personal space while other students are taught to respect the classmate’s work and privacy. The mat is considered a child’s sacred space and no one can interrupt the child unless they are willing to interact. Other children make sure to walk around the mat carefully and only join a classmate when given permission.

Another advantage of a Montessori mat is that the children can come back to their activity if they have to leave their work for any reason. For example, a child takes a bathroom break or has snack time. They can leave their belongings on the mat and return to find their work in the same place, undisturbed.

Each activity in a Montessori classroom starts with the mat. Children are trained to first unroll a mat on their desired space after which they can select an activity. Once they have completed their activity, each child rolls back his or her mat, being careful about keeping the edges even, and puts it along with the others in a basket. This not only teaches children order but also improves their practical life skills to help children become more independent and adaptable to society.

At Montessori Kids Sugarland, the work mats are the foundation of everything the children will learn. Visit us and see how the mats are integrated in every activity to create the perfect work space for each child.

November 16th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU, Montessori Education

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Implementing Montessori Practices at Home

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Parents of young children are jumping on the Montessori craze and it’s easy to see why. Incorporating Montessori practices at home to further establish the education they receive at their respective Montessori schools is quite easy.

What is Montessori?
Simply stated, a Montessori education encourages children to learn using their senses. The goal is to nurture a life-long love of learning. Children work self-sufficiently, focusing on one task at a time. In turn, they become motivated and tend to explore further into a topic that interests them.
So, how do you implement the Montessori Method at home? Try these tips to get your home Montessori practices started.

Stress Courtesy
One of the most important steps in Montessori is teaching your child how to conduct themselves politely and properly. This ideal is stressed heavily within their Montessori curriculum, so it’s a good idea to implement it at home, as well.

Facilitate Real-Life Skills
The Montessori Method teaches students to take care of themselves and to help others, in hopes that they eventually view themselves as esteemed members of society.

At home, young children can care for pets, like giving the family dog his evening bowl of water or sitting with Mom as she folds laundry and matching up socks by color, thereby enhancing confidence and increasing self-worth.

Encourage Concentration
Effective learning requires focus and concentration skills. You can help develop these skills by noting what interests your child and then providing the materials for her to further explore it as she pleases. For example, if your child seems interested in fish, a new goldfish to help care for along with a picture book about fish may further pique her fascination.

Nurture Inner Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is key to student learning. Montessori teachers put emphasis on nurturing each student’s individual sense of accomplishment versus using traditional extrinsic rewards. By communicating encouragement and appreciation for your child’s behavior, you are cultivating an inner motivation that she will value throughout her life.

Learn to Let Your Child Self-Correct
As a parent, you may have certain guidelines you would like your child to abide by in your home. For example, you may want to instill in your child that he should pick up his toys and return them to the proper area when finished playing with them. But after suggesting this to your child several times, he still forgets to put his toys away.

Perhaps he’s not ready. Let it go, relax, and re-introduce the concept the next day. It may take repeated requests before your child positively responds.

Remember, the motivation to complete tasks correctly is derived from an internal drive to learn, not from external consequences and rewards. Try being an unseen spectator and allow the improvement to naturally occur.

November 15th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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How to Get Young Children Back on Track After a Natural Disaster

Students Natural Disaster

Hurricanes, like the recent life-threatening Harvey and Irma, can cause tremendous turmoil in people’s lives. It can take months or even a year or more for family members, especially children, to feel that life is back to normal.

The psychological bearing of a storm differs between people based on factors such as age, prior experiences with natural disasters, and the amount of stress that already exists prior to the storm. The effects of natural disasters on children can vary based on the extent of the disaster, maturity, age, and personality. They can also differ based on the way the parents handle the disaster and work toward restoring normal life for the family. It’s important for parents to talk with children and respond to their needs to facilitate coping and recovery mechanisms.

Read on for ways to restore order and calm to your children’s lives in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Talk it Out

Talk with your children about what they were feeling during the storm. It’s common for children to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression, or anxiety following a disaster. They may even have difficulty focusing in school. Talking through a crisis can help reconnect with your children and can give them a positive means of expressing their fears. Furthermore, it enables parents to identify children who may need additional help dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster so they can seek assistance from professionals or school administrators.

Restructure Routines

The most important thing you can do for your children is get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Routines instill a sense of safety in children and ensure that everything is okay. Everyone, even adults, draws strength and refuge from a structured daily routine, so it’s important to start practicing bed time, dinner time, going to church, etc., even if you are staying in a hotel or with extended family. Children respond to these rituals by feeling safe and secure, regardless of the stressful changes taking place around them

Help is Available

Keep in mind that as a parent, you can’t be expected to guess how your child is feeling. It’s best just to ask them. If children assert that they are fine and seem to be functioning well, take it at face value. However, if you or your children need additional help coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster, you may want to consider the following resources:

National Association of School Psychologists

Red Cross Disaster Relief

Coping with Disaster | FEMA.gov

October 25th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU, Montessori Education

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