Is your child getting enough unstructured play time each day? With the very scheduled lives that most children have these days, it’s important to fit in some free time for your preschooler. Not only does it give your child time to unwind, but her intelligence and creativity are further developed during free play as she figures out how things work on her own.
Benefits of Free Play
Why is unstructured play so important? Free play is vital to both the physical and emotional well-being of children. Some of the benefits include:
Examples of Free Play
Free play is any unstructured activity that inspires your child to use her imagination without constant adult direction. Examples include:
Children need opportunities to play and explore freely. Daily free play prepares them to work well with others as they approach learning with a sense of enthusiasm.
Admn February 8th, 2018
Posted In: Tips
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.
manager January 19th, 2018
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.
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:
On the other end of the spectrum, under sensitive children seek out sensory stimulation. They may:
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.
Admn January 9th, 2018
Posted In: Tips
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
manager January 7th, 2018
Posted In: Tips
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.
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.”
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.
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.
manager December 20th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
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.
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.
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.
Admn November 15th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Today, let’s take a look behind the scenes in the classroom to give you some ideas for Montessori-style activities you can recreate at home. Montessori teachers refer to them as “practical life activities”
Practical life activities in the classroom
As the name suggests, practical life activities focus on skills children use on a daily basis. Children observe these activities in their own environment and gain knowledge through the practice of daily duties.
Some typical activities that are implemented in most Montessori classrooms include:
Ideas for the home environment
It’s quite easy to incorporate any of the above activities at home for your child. Simply remember to keep child-sized objects ready for handling various tasks. For example, if your child is helping you butter toast, have a small amount of butter ready on a separate plate.
Other ways you can incorporate life skills at home are:
When applying practical life skills at home, always remember:
Don’t allow your children to sit in front of the TV or play iPads while you perform various tasks around the house. Instead, encourage them to join you and help out. Children love to stay involved with their parents and with some simple activities, they can gain life skills at the same time.
Remember that the main reason we at Montessori Kids Universe teach practical life skills is that we value children and the contribution they can make to the family, and later, the world. We believe they are capable of doing so much more than what the media tells us. They can handle breakables if they’re taught how. They can take responsibility for themselves if we teach them how. In other words, they can learn, if we give them the room to grow.
manager September 20th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Tags: 2 year olds, child development, children, education, learning, Montessori, Montessori classroom, Montessori Education, Montessori Method, parenting, parenting tips, pre-school, Small Children, sugar land, toddlers
You are busy shopping at the supermarket and suddenly you hear an ear-piercing shriek. Upon turning around you see a little girl wailing to buy the Frozen toy while the mother (tries to) ignore the embarrassing behavior.
For a parent this is not a new scenario. In fact, ask anyone and they are likely to agree that handling a toddler’s tantrum is one of the most challenging parts of parenthood. Toddler tantrums are common, especially in children between the ages of 1 and 4 when they are still learning to communicate properly. It is estimated that more than half of young children will have one or more tantrums a week to vent their frustrations and inability to control emotions.
Of course, as common as they may be, toddler tantrums can be distressing and embarrassing to the parents, especially when they occur frequently.
Why do kids have tantrums?
Temper tantrums can take a variety of forms from crying and whining to screaming, hitting, kicking, and even breath holding. Tantrums usually happen when kids are hungry, tired, uncomfortable or can’t get something (either a person or an object) that they want. It’s children’s way of showing they are frustrated or upset. Over time, children’s language skills improve and thus the frequency of tantrums decrease. But until they are able to communicate their desires or problems, parents must deal with the tantrums.
So what’s the best way to handle tantrums?
Do everything you can to avoid tantrums in the first place. Here are some tips that may help:
• Give your child plenty of positive interaction throughout the day. Sometimes kids act up when they want more attention from their parents. Praising them for good behavior and spending time with them will reduce the occurrence of tantrums.
Most importantly, keep your cool during the tantrum and avoid screaming to let out your own frustration. Remember, your job is to teach children how to stay calm and it will do no good if you are not calm yourself. Hitting and spanking doesn’t help. It will show children that using force and physical punishment is acceptable and can result in negative behavior in the future.
And of course, don’t give in to your child’s tantrums. This will only prove to them that their tactics were effective and can be used again and again.
When to call the doctor
It is best to consult a doctor if the tantrums become frequent, intense, or haven’t stopped by the age of 4 years. It is also advised to call your healthcare provider if the child is in danger of hurting him or herself or others.
The good news is most toddler tantrums are not a cause of worry and usually stop as children mature and learn to communicate. Until then, try your best to handle the tantrums in the most positive way possible.
manager September 4th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Educators and parents alike know how crucial language and communication skills are to a child’s development. Because parents are a child’s first teacher, it’s important for them to comprehend language development in toddlers as it expands their ability to work with their child to enhance communication skills.
Communication refers to both speech and language. Speech is the actual sound of spoken language. Language denotes words and symbols—written, spoken, and body language—used to communicate meaning. Mastering these skills empowers children to socialize and learn from their daily surroundings, as well as through classroom instruction.
Development of early language and communication skills is vital for student success both in school and later in life. This includes the ability to understand others and appropriately express oneself using words, gestures, and facial expressions. Children who master age-appropriate language and communication skills tend to have a greater desire to learn when they arrive at school and are more likely to have higher levels of achievement in both school and beyond.
Children’s brains are developing quickly during their first years, so it is important for them to have meaningful interactions with the adults in their lives. Parents, along with our teachers at Montessori Kids Universe, have ample opportunity to provide toddlers with exchanges that enhance growth and development, specifically language and communication skills.
While every child does not develop at the same pace, there are practices that parents can incorporate into their child’s daily schedule to develop speech and language skills.
• Elicit regular conversations with your child throughout the day.
• Use advanced grammar and vocabulary.
• Provide children with descriptions of objects, emotions, activities, and events.
• Read, read, read! Read with your child several times each day. Point to pictures and identify images.
• Use props. Introduce objects that spark interest during story time.
• Use dramatic gestures with words to emphasize meaning.
• Children love music. Be sure to engage in musical activities every day.
These daily interactions benefit children from numerous language and cultural backgrounds, including dual language learners. By implementing these activities, parents and early childhood educators can team up to provide children the extensive experience and opportunities needed to enhance their language and communication skills.
To help your children reach their full potential, Montessori Kids Universe embeds this philosophy within its curriculum through social interaction with other children, development of language and practical life skills, and music and movement activities.
Admn August 23rd, 2017
Babies turn into toddlers very quickly. And parents are surprised (and of course, happy) by how quickly the stages of night-waking, dealing with colic, and constant nursing have passed.
But they now have a new set of challenges to face as toddlers can be a handful. Raising toddlers and preschoolers is not for the faint of heart and even though elder parents might tell you that the phase goes by quickly, there will be moments when you will feel like losing your mind.
So how can you keep your sanity while your cute and adorable 3-year-old is throwing a fit, kicking and screaming at you for not cutting the cheese in the way he wanted? The good news is that with (a lot of) patience, stamina, creativity, determination, and sense of humor, you can sail past these days and actually enjoy the tantrums thrown by your “heart-melting” toddler. Here are some tips:
Kids have a lot of energy that needs to be released, and they need outside play time every day to do this. On rainy days or when the weather is too cold to go outside, set up some constructive play indoors where they can take part in physical activity. Obstacle courses, forts, Hide & Seek, and songs with accompanying movements will all help to quell temper tantrums by channeling energy into something positive.
Keep reminding yourself that “all messes can be cleaned up.” Resist the urge to have a meltdown when you see your new lipstick being used as crayon or mounds of toilet paper trailed on the bathroom floor. While nothing can be done about ruined items, every action can be turned into a learning opportunity. Make a game of cleaning up and sing the song “Clean Up,” to make doing so part of the game, not a punishment.
And don’t forget to take a picture of your children when you catch them in mischief – after some years you all will share a good laugh over it.
The Montessori method encourages parents to treat children as small adults. As such, you should be able to have knickknacks and decorative items around your home that you teach your children to handle carefully or not at all. Montessori kids learn that “this is china and will break, so we must carry it with two hands and be very careful.” They also learn that there are items precious to mom or dad that they shouldn’t touch without permission. While childproofing to remove any hazards is important, children can and should be taught how to handle various common household items.
Parenting can be lonely. But there are many parents out there who are looking for friends to share their days with. Join a Mom’s or Dad’s group or go out with friends who have kids the same age as yours. A little time out in a different atmosphere will be refreshing and fun for all of you.
Respect the pace at which they are developing and don’t push them into reaching a certain milestone that they are not yet ready to reach. The key is to encourage discovery with a positive attitude but to recognize when a child is becoming frustrated and has reached his or her limit. At that point, step in and take a break. You can always revisit that task another time.
This goes for the both of you. Just like your children are different from others, you are also not like the other moms. Just because one mom looks like she has her kids under control on social media doesn’t mean you are a failure (plus, she might not have it all under control).
The same goes for children. Children have distinctive interests, skills, and developmental speed. Comparing them with other children will put stress on them and lower their self-esteem. It is likely that the comparison might lead them to shy away from social situations and make them reluctant to take part in activities.
Most parents are so focused on their children that they hardly take time for themselves and their spouse. Children are your first priority but you still need to pamper yourself and spend adult time with your better half. Hire a babysitter at least once a week or, if finances are an issue, trade services with another parent. It doesn’t matter what you do with your free time; what matters is that you have it.
You might feel like you are fighting a never-ending battle but remember, the “little days” will go by quickly. Keep reminding yourself of this mantra and embrace each day with your toddler.
manager August 16th, 2017