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Benefits of Physical Activity

Most people have heard the basic information that exercise and physical activity has many important benefits. But what many don’t realize is the benefits of physical activity also apply to children. In fact, there are some unique benefits for children. Here are some of those important benefits to encourage you to have an active child.

The most obvious benefit of physical activity is the physical health benefits. Children who are active at least 60 minutes a day, demonstrate lower rates of obesity. They also have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Physical activity also reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol levels, strengthens bones and builds up muscles.

An extensive review of 14 different studies, ranging from as few as 50 to as many as 12,000 participants found that the more physically active children are, the better they do academically. The strong belief is that regular participation in physical activity enhances brain function and cognition which thereby improves academic performance. Although it has not been proven, there are several most commonly held beliefs as to how this occurs. The first theory is that increased activity causes increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain heightening cognition. Another theory is that increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins that result from the activity act to decrease stress, improve mood, and thereby inherently lead better academic performance. That improved academic performance translates into higher reading and math test scores.

Many studies have proven that physical activity in children improves sleep patterns and a lack of physical activity has the opposite effect. For example, a research study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood reports that every hour of inactivity adds three minutes to the time it takes children to fall asleep. Additionally, it also reported that children who fall asleep quicker also sleep for longer. Another study analyzed level of physical activity and its correlation to time it took for the child to fall asleep. The study found that children who had higher levels of physical activity fell asleep faster than their inactive counterparts.

With many health benefits, improved academic performance, as well as improved sleep patterns, physical activity has a plethora of clear benefits for children.

June 18th, 2018

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Importance of a Montessori education for lifelong success

One of the main differences between a Montessori education and a traditional one is that the Montessori method focuses on individual learning at a child’s individual pace. Although it may seem as if that would slow the child down, it actually does the opposite. Because students are permitted to explore areas that they are most interested in, they are naturally encouraged to explore more challenging areas and dig deeper into a topic. The measures of achievement look at individual progress and development rather than traditional methods like grades and tests. A study conducted by the University of Virginia found that Montessori students had significantly better scores when tested against non Montessori students in mental performance, academic abilities and social and behavioral skills. The study further showed that the Montessori students were better equipped to adapt to changing and complex problems. This ability is often treated as a predictor of future success, another indicator that a Montessori education better prepares students for future success.

Another key value of a Montessori education is its emphasis on fostering independence among the students. In her book The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori writes, “The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his ‘natural development’, labeling independence as one of the key aspects of development. It is vital to begin fostering independence at a young age and Montessori allows that to occur.

The Montessori Method, especially when paired with Reggio Emilia enrichment, also serves to grow a child’s creativity. With Montessori, children are encouraged to follow their interests, leading to an inherent growth in creativity as they are doing tasks that they want to rather than to prepare for an exam or because they are told to do so. This allows children to enjoy the process of learning rather than just the end result allowing for a creative process to occur and for a child’s love of learning to grow. In an environment where students are forced to learn “for the test” or because the “curriculum says so” a student’s natural love of learning is often extinguished and along with it the ability for creative expression. A Montessori education avoids those issues by working for the opposite goals: fueling a child’s love of learning and allowing a child to explore his or her passions. When a Montessori education is also paired with the Reggio Emilia designated creative art space, creativity increases even more.

A Montessori education has many unique benefits that are vital to lifelong success and are not accessible with a traditional education.

https://www.education.com/magazine/article/10-benefits-montessori-preschool/
http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/pros_cons_montessori_education/
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2006/sep/29/schools.uk

May 2nd, 2018

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Summer Camp

As a person who attended summer camp for most of my youth, summer camp memories are some of the best I have. Spending days with my friends, learning from the counselors and just getting out of the house, made for incredible memories. On the contrary, the one summer I spent without camp I remember feeling trapped at home and simply bored out of my mind. My friends who attended camp echo the sentiment that simply put, summer camp rocks!

On a more psychological and developmental level, Peter Scales, Ph.D., a senior fellow with the Search Institute in Minneapolis, explains that “camp is one of the few institutions where young people can experience and satisfy their need for physical activity, creative expression and true participation in a community environment”. He further analyses that in a structured environment, such as camp, children get the opportunity to interact with positive role models who have time to talk, relax, and reflect. Children also learn to work together, make choices, take responsibility, develop creative skills, build independence and self reliance, and gain confidence. All of those skills are necessary steps on a child’s path to a healthy, productive life. Bruce Muchnick, a licensed psychologist explains that “the camp community seeks to satisfy children’s basic need for connectedness, affiliation, belonging, acceptance, safety, and feelings of acceptance and appreciation”.

The difference between us and most other summer camps is that while we are focused on providing a fun experience, we also aim to keep each child mentally stimulated and learning. According to the Wallace Foundation Study, by the end of summer, students perform, on average, one month behind where they left off in the spring – and these effects are cumulative. To combat such negative effects, the study identifies that students must continue to be mentally engaged. If a child experiences severe skill deterioration over the summer, they are likely to fall behind their peers the following year, and that cycle is very likely to continue if summers are wasted.

Summer camp offers so much for every child. It offers great memories, a great community, a fun learning environment, lays the groundwork for future success, and so much more.

March 30th, 2018

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How to Balance Technology and Montessori

We live in a world overrun by technology and our kids are growing up in an era when technology is at the forefront of almost everything they do. While it’s clear that we will not be returning to the days of Leave it to Beaver, we have to be careful not to embrace technology to the point of excluding other modes of fun, communication, and learning.

 

The Montessori classroom does a fantastic job of keeping the focus on learning through hands-on manipulation and through doing, versus studying from a screen. Montessori materials are designed to bring out critical thinking skills that develop patience, multi-step processing, creativity, and problem solving. When students learn math, they don’t do so through computer games that provide an array of answers and make jubilant sounds when the correct answer is chosen. Instead, students select the material that catches their eye and are guided through a process of learning that leads to self-discovery and long term understanding of math concepts.

 

Likewise, in language arts, they form letters in sand and learn to trace on sandpaper letters. This tactile approach is a proven method for memory, much more so than typing or reacting to a computer screen. And it should come as no surprise that science comes alive through manipulation of materials, witnessing real-life changes in structure, studying animals and plants up close and personal, and planting and tending to a garden.

 

According to the National Academy of Pediatrics, the average American child spends 7 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort, whether it be a TV, computer, or phone. The recommended amount of time is one hour per day. Yet parents still question if Montessori schools shouldn’t use technology more in the classroom.

 

The answer is that many Montessori schools have found a beautiful balance that welcomes technology while making sure kids have plenty of time on the floor, being active and engaged. For instance, students can use computers to create documents, learn how to submit papers on popular share drives such as Google Docs, and discover how to use email to communicate. But for every hour spent on these pursuits, the students spend 5 being physical and social. The belief is that in these realms, real learning takes place. And it’s a given that once they’ve left the Montessori environment, students will have plenty of time to use technology at home.

 

The key is balance. Montessori Kids Universe offers that much sought after healthy balance where students can discover the joy of learning while also discovering the wonderful world of socializing with friends, following good examples set by adults, and getting physical exercise for good overall health.

March 5th, 2018

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Montessori Christmas Gift Guide

 

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Christmas is coming and many of us still have some last minute gift shopping to do. However, it is difficult to find the perfect present for each loved one. Especially kids.

Every year, toy manufacturers develop numerous new toys and games for children.  Most of them are made from intricately-designed plastic pieces while others come with bells and whistles.

Regardless of which toy you buy, most offer very little educational value – and in the end, you spend a lot of money on something that usually ends up in the toy bin.

Montessori toys are different. They are usually made from wooden material and last for years to come. Montessori inspired toys not only offer children educational support but also encourage imagination. Moreover, these toys are safe, non-toxic, and quiet – in short, they will not pollute your home with chemicals and noise.

If you are also in search of a perfect gift for the youngsters, then you are in the right place. This guide consists of some of the best gifts for a Montessori toddler.

Stacking and nesting cups:

The perfect gift for children between the age of 6 months and 1 year, stacking cups not only help fine tune children’s motor skills but also develop hand-eye coordination and balance control. Stacking and nesting cups are available in varied shapes and colors.

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Wooden stacking rings:

Wooden stacking rings promote a child’s understanding of colors shapes, and sizes. They also teach children the basics of problem solving. These come in various lengths, shapes, and colors and are the perfect gift for children above the age of 1 year.

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Shape sorters:

Shape sorters are a classic favorite amongst toddlers. The challenge to put the shaped block in the right hole keeps kids mesmerized for unlimited hours. With these shape sorters, children learn to identify shapes and colors while developing hand-eye coordination.

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Lacing toys:

Lacing toys are fun especially for those children who are aspiring to become crafters. These toys are also available in various shapes and offer children unlimited lacing and tying practice fun.

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Building blocks:

The wooden block set is a great addition to any children’s toy collection. They provide years of building, designing, and inventing fun for children (and even adults) of all ages.

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Abacus:                                                  

The abacus is helpful for improving children’s mathematical skills. It also teaches them logic and is a great way to exercise the brain. In ancient times, the abacus was used to calculate, but now these are used as one of the many brain development tools for children.

blog-abacus

This year, think about going for the classic toys that make learning fun. You’ll give your kids a gift that will teach, entertain, and develop creativity – what more could you want?

December 22nd, 2016

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5 tips for surviving holiday shopping with kids

mall-shopping

Christmas is just a few weeks away and even if you have completed your holiday shopping in advance – there are some people you are likely to have accidentally overlooked. As parents we know that it’s far easier – and faster – to keep the kids at home to complete the shopping list. Unfortunately,  this may not be feasible and you have to make the dreaded trip to the mall with kids in tow.

To help you out, here are some tips that can make the shopping experience, despite the traffic and crowds, pleasant for both you and the little ones.

  1. Have a plan ready:

Before going out, prepare a shopping list so you know what to look for and where. Try to pre-plan your parking to be close to the section of the mall where you need to shop. Pack some snacks and lightweight books/puzzles ready in your bag for kids if they become cranky. It is easier to shop if your kids have something that entertains them and bringing along a favorite activity will go a long way in keeping your kids’ attention.

  1. Explain rules in advance:

Just as you have rules for proper behavior at home, you should have rules for proper shopping behavior. Make these clear to your kids ahead of time so they know exactly what’s expected of them. Remember safety and make sure you tell your children that stores will be crowded and they are to stick next to you. You can also offer rewards for good behavior, such as a stop in their favorite store or a milkshake in their favorite flavor. Everyone needs incentives, and if it will cut your shopping time in half to promise a treat at the end, it’s well worth the reward.

  1. Involve them:

No one likes to stand around feeling useless, even little kids. Give them a task according to their age. If they are young, ask them to hold on to the shopping list and track your progress. Or ask them to select between two shirts for grandpa and actually listen to their opinion. By making them feel useful and important, you are likely to limit any behavior issues. They will naturally want to help when they see you value their input. In addition, you are showing your respect for them as little people, and they appreciate that!

  1. Take Breaks:

Are your kids acting up? Are they cranky? Maybe they are tired, hungry, thirsty, or just plain bored! Take a quick rest by having a snack or maybe even a nap for the little ones. Visiting Santa is also a great activity that kids look forward to when in the mall. Grab a bite to eat, get off your feet, and take a few minutes to rejuvenate. After a little break, everyone will be back in shape to finish off the shopping list.

  1. Have some fun:

Shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it fun by singing carols on the way to the mall or skipping from store to store. By keeping your kids happy and entertained, your shopping trip will go by in a breeze. Remember that learning can be fun and keeps little minds engaged, so get them to help you with the math of a purchase or aid you in  finding the best price. Ask them to count how many people they see wearing red sweaters. Games can come out of the smallest moments, but they make a big impact when it comes to creating a pleasant shopping experience. They also make long memories that your kids will treasure when they get older.

With these tips in mind, your holiday shopping trip will be a fun experience for all and not an overwhelming hassle, like you expected. Give these tricks a try and happy shopping!

 

December 12th, 2016

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Divide and Conquer: Chores for the little ones

Toddler child washing dishes in kitchen. Little boy having fun with helping to his mother with housework.

Doing chores is (and should) be a tradition in a family. Children learn responsibility by doing their chores and of course, by sharing chores with the family members.

Not sure where to start and which chores to give your little ones? Don’t worry! We’re here to help and make doing chores a positive experience for all.

By giving children responsibility, they feel needed and know that they are making a contribution to the family. If children learn to help in their younger years, they will work harder later in life. Even children as young as two years old can help around the house and are more able than you think they are. They can easily use the modern gadgets, so tasks at home are simple.  However, they are not born knowing everything and just like you taught them how to walk and talk, you must teach them how to do tasks that are appropriate for their age group. Don’t insist on perfection but praise them as they struggle through each job that you have assigned them.

Make a Chore Chart

Create a list of jobs for every member of the family. Hang it in a place where everyone can see and follow. Rewards can also be given to children to motivate them to do their tasks on time.

2-3 Years old

  • Put toys away.
  • Put clothes in hamper.
  • Wipe up spills.
  • Pile up magazines and books.
  • Fill a pet’s water and food bowl.

4-5 years old

  • All of the chores mentioned above
  • Make their bed.
  • Empty waste paper baskets.
  • Bring in the newspaper.
  • Help clean the table.
  • Water flowers.
  • Help unload the dishwasher.
  • Wash dishes.
  • Help parents prepare food.
  • Be completely responsible for pet’s food and water.

6-7 years old

  • Vacuum rooms.
  • Mop floors.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Put the laundry in its respective places.
  • Empty trash cans.
  • Wash light load of dishes.
  • Take clothes from the dryer.
  • Take care of pet’s food, water, and exercise completely.

8 years old and up

 

  • Dust.
  • Clean kitchen.
  • Clean bathroom with help.
  • Mop.
  • Help clean car.
  • Tidy up drawers and cabinets.

With these tips in mind, you will be well on your way to creating a chore system for your household. We at Montessori kids Sugarland also believe that children should take care of their own belongings so we encourage them to clean up their class work and lunches. With this partnership. Children learn responsibility and feel that they are members of the larger community.

 

 

December 5th, 2016

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How to cope with separation anxiety

separation-anxiety-spxcc-full

 

For many children, saying goodbye to a parent or guardian brings tantrums, screams, wails, and tears. Young children are in a close relationship with their parents and are often hesitant about leaving them or seeing them go somewhere – even if they are just leaving the room for a minute.

However, it is perfectly normal for young children to feel anxious and worried when separating from their parents or important caregivers. And although it might be difficult for you to leave your clinging child, it is a normal part of growing up and fortunately for you, it can be relieved with patience and understanding of your child’s unique situation.

But before we look at ways to cope with separation anxiety, let’s learn more about what causes it.

When does Separation Anxiety occur?

Separation anxiety develops after children gain an understanding about your presence – usually around 8 months. Once they realize you are gone (even if you have just gone to the bathroom), they become unsettled and cry their hearts out until the parent or caregiver is back in the room.

The feelings of anxiety become stronger after the children’s first birthday. Children at this age become more independent and thus are more uncertain about their parent’s whereabouts.

Most cases of separation anxiety ease after the children turn 2. However, certain life-changing stresses can again trigger the feelings. These situations include starting school, having a new sibling, relocating, or dealing with an illness in the family.

How to survive separation anxiety?

There are several steps you as a parent can take to ease your children through this challenging phase.

  • Make goodbyes short and sweet – As much as you want to, don’t linger around the crying child. Say your goodbye, share a kiss and leave, allowing the caregiver you have selected to do her job.
  • Set a routine –Keep the same goodbye ritual each time you drop or leave your children. A predictable routine builds the children’s trust and confidence and makes them more capable of dealing with their anxiety.
  • Give them extra attention – When you and your child are together, make sure that you give him or her special attention. Experts believe that the additional one-on-one time boosts children’s confidence about their parent’s love and makes them less threatened at the time of parting.
  • Keep your promise – When leaving children, make sure you tell them what time you will be back. And of course, keep your promise and be back at the time you mentioned.
  • Practice staying away – Send children off to Grandma’s or arrange play dates over the weekends. Introduce them to new people and new places. Practice being away and leaving your child with caregivers for short periods so that they can get used to the situation and be prepared when the time comes for you to leave them with a babysitter, preschool, or a family member.

As hard as it might be for you, do your best not to cave in. have confidence that the caregiver or the school that you have chosen for your children will handle any situation. And it’s likely that by the time you are back in your car, your child will be happily engrossed in other activities.

Remember, in most cases the phase passes during the preschool years. However, if you feel that your child’s separation anxiety persists even after the preschool years, consult your doctor or a child specialist. 

November 28th, 2016

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Why kids ask why

kids-asking-questions

Why is the sky blue?”

“Why do I need to eat my vegetables?”

“Why do we sleep in the night and not in the day?

Why, Why, and Why? Studies have claimed that children between the age of 2 and 5 ask as many as 200 – 300 questions per day. Although it might seem to parents that the continuous chatter of questions is mainly to exasperate them, the queries are just a genuine attempt by the kids to understand more about the world in which they live.

Toddlers are instinctively curious and look up to their elders for an explanation about the things they see, hear, and do. Of course, ignoring the question or replying with an “I don’t know” or “You will know when you are older” stifles their curiosity and eagerness to learn which is something I’m sure no parent wants to do.

Research conducted by the University of Michigan also claims that children continuously ask the same “why” questions until they are satisfied with the answers. During one study, 42 preschoolers ages 3 to 5 were provided various materials involving books, toys, and videos that prompted them to ask questions. The group that was given an explanatory answer to their question was more satisfied and avoided re-asking the question when compared to the group who was given a non-explanatory answer.

Another reason children ask “Why” questions is that they have found another easily articulated word (the first being “no”) that gets your immediate attention and better – a response.  Children need constant attention and when they don’t get enough of it, they find an alternate way to get it.

THE MAGIC PHRASE TO USE WITH KIDS ASKING WHY:

Experts recommend that parents not answer questions asked by children instantly. Instead, they should probe them further by saying:

“You tell me why.”

By asking them the question in return, children will get a chance to think more about the answer to their “why” question. They might need a little nudge from you but it will help them explore the answer that will build up their problem-solving skills for the future.

For example, if your child asks “Why does the cat have fur?” before giving them a full response, allow them to come up with an answer. You can also research the topic more with them by taking the children to the library and showing them books about the subject.

HOW CAN PARENTS FOSTER THE HABIT OF ASKING QUESTIONS?

Asking lots of questions and getting accurate replies is an important part of children’s learning. As a parent you can support their learning by:

  • Encouraging them to ask questions
  • Asking lots of “why” questions yourself
  • Reading books that stimulate their imagination and prompts them to ask more questions

Remember, your children won’t be toddlers forever and they may find other activities to drive you bonkers (especially in their teenage years), so make the most of your time with them and as much as you dislike all these “why” questions, try to see them as wonderful learning opportunities.

 

 

November 8th, 2016

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How to Ditch the Diapers

potty-training

Potty training is a major milestone in the life of both parents and children. The secret to being successful? A lot of patience and good timing!

Is it the right time?

Not all kids are ready to be toilet trained at the same, so as parents, it is important to look out for signs of readiness from your children. Otherwise, starting too early or rushing the process might be frustrating for both of you and make the process longer.

Generally, most children exhibit signs of readiness around by the time they are 2 years old, although some may be ready earlier or later. Instead of using age as an indicator, parents should look out for the following signs that will tell them whether their children are ready to “ditch” the diaper or not.

  • Ability to follow simple instructions
  • Interest in watching others use the toilet
  • Verbal or thorough physical expression indicating a need to go to the bathroom
  • Ability to stay dry for more than 2 hours
  • Motor skills to pull down pants and/or Pull-ups
  • Complaints about wet or dirty diapers

If most of these attributes are present in your child, then he or she might be ready for toilet training. If not, you should wait a few more weeks before starting the toilet training process. It is also a good idea to wait a while if children have recently faced or will be facing a major change in life such as the arrival of a new sibling, moving to a new house, or recovering from an illness.

Invest in the right equipment.

Now that you have decided to take the big step, it is time to buy the right equipment. Parents have two basic potty options which include:

  1. A toddler sized potty chair with a bowl that can be emptied into the toilet
  2. A toddler sized seat that can be attached to the top of your toilet seat so the children sit secured without worrying about falling in

Set a schedule and have a plan.

  • Have the children sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes several times a day, especially in the morning, at bath time and whenever your child is likely to have a bowel movement. You can also take children to the bathroom at intervals of every 1-2 hours to see if they urinate. Stick to the schedule and make sure you are taking them at the same time every day.
  • Pick out a few picture books and DVDs to inspire children and erase fear. Everyone Poops and Once Upon a Potty are some of our personal favorites.
  • Demonstrate to the children how and why you sit on the toilet seat.
  • Look for cues that your child needs to go to the bathroom. Some signs include change in posture, red face, and/or grunting.
  • Offer children rewards every time they are successful in going to the bathroom at the right time.
  • Make sure all your children’s caregivers, grandparents, baby sitters and teachers follow the same established routine for toileting.
  • Teach children to wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom.
  • You may have to wipe their bottom until your children can take care of it on their own. Remember to wipe from front to back, especially for little girls.
  • Make sure your children’s wardrobe is adaptable to potty training. In other words, make sure they are wearing clothing that is easy to pull up and down.
  • If your child misses the toilet and has an accident, don’t yell, show frustration, or even comment on it. Clean up the mess without a fuss and offer lots of encouragement.

Toilet training might take weeks, even months. It is not a competition so don’t be pressured by other parents. Just relax and let your children get the hang of it at their own pace.

October 31st, 2016

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