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The role of the Montessori teacher

Most of us have a fixed mindset of a teacher’s role in a classroom. She stands in front of the room and dictates material while the children listen intently. The students, regardless of their pace and interest, are required to follow the lessons according to the teacher’s academic plan.

Although this method of learning has been practiced effectively for centuries, Dr. Maria Montessori had a different theory. She believed that the teacher, student, and the environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher with activities and materials according to the child’s learning abilities and interest. The students make use of the environment and develop various skills while taking guidance and support from the teachers when needed.

Her belief is that the focus should remain on the children’s learning and not on the teachers’ teaching. This is why Montessori teachers are not the center of attention in the classroom. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to spot the teacher in a Montessori classroom as she often steps back,allowing the children to learn from their own discoveries and draw conclusions. Rather than giving children answers to the many questions they ask in one day, the Montessori teacher asks them how they would solve the problem while actively engaging children in the learning process and enhancing critical thinking skills.

A prepared environment

Montessori teachers provide activities based on six areas of learning: practical life activities, sensorial activities, numeracy, literacy, understanding of the world, and creative abilities. The children are given the freedom within limits to choose the activity according to their interests and abilities.They are allowed to spend as much time as they need on one activity, and while the Montessori teacher will not interfere in their working, she will be readily available to guide them as needed.  By following this approach, children of Montessori become more confident about their ability to understand what they are learning. This also limits the necessity of coercion, which often increases feelings of stress and inferiority in children.

A Model, Mentor, and a Guide

In a traditional classroom, the teachers present the lesson to a large group of students who are expected to listen and take in all the information provided. However, in a Montessori environment, the teachers work with only one or two students at a time while the learning material is provided on the basis of children’s interest.

If a child is not interested or making an incorrect association, the Montessori teacher does not force the child to learn. Instead, she gives the child time to clear the air and continues the topic another day. The Montessori system believes that pushing a child to learn will only make them frustrated while allowing them to learn at their own pace with patience will empower them to learn more.

Observe students

The most important role of a Montessori teacher is of an observer. The Montessori teacher makes careful observations of each student while they work. The teacher does not interfere or disrupt the students while they work, nor do they give out punishment or rewards.This allows the teacher to understand when a child has mastered a specific skill or concept, thus moving them on to an advanced curriculum. Progress notes are shared frequently with parents and caregivers.

We at Montessori Kids Sugarland believe that children are full of curiosity. By giving them an environment to learn with freedom, they can grow up to be intelligent, independent, responsible, and contributing members of society.

As Maria Montessori would say,

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say: The children are now working as if I did not exist.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 3rd, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Why Open Houses Are Worth Your Time

Open House

 

For many parents, choosing the right preschool for their child is as stressful as selecting the right college for a teen. There are so many schools out there with varying curriculum that it’s no surprise parents become overwhelmed.

Luckily, it’s a norm for most schools to hold open houses to give parents a glimpse of what to expect. Not just for new parents, these events are beneficial for parents whose children are already attending the particular school. By taking part in such events, you can see the children’s progress, meet up with teachers, and get a good look at the classrooms.

And of course, open houses are a great way to communicate with other parents. Regular school days are usually filled with the hustle and bustle of picking up and dropping off, but open houses provide a great opportunity to visit with fellow parents and share experiences.

To make the most of these events, follow these suggestions:

Go early: Try to reach the venue early so you have sufficient time to chat with other parents, teachers, and the leadership of the school. Sometimes, open houses follow a program and you don’t want to miss important introductions and information.

Talk to the teachers: Although these nights are not about individual children, they are perfect for getting to know the teachers, their expectations, and their personalities. This helps make future conversations more productive and pleasant.

Check out the curricula: The curriculum is a guide to what the children will be learning during the school year. Since different preschools follow different teaching philosophies, it may be a good idea to find out about them in advance.

Voice your concerns: Although an open house will not give you a chance to discuss specific issues your child is facing, you can still voice your concerns during the event. For example, if your child is complaining about not getting enough time to eat lunch, open house is the perfect place to get clarification on the duration of lunch time.

Volunteer: Most schools appreciate parent volunteers during trips, events, and with everyday classroom resources. As a parent, you might have your hands full, but remember, school is more than a pick-up, drop-off point. It’s a place where children spend most of their childhood. Seeing you there and helping out will go a long way in giving children a more meaningful school experience.

Always Remember:

An open house is neither the place nor a setting to discuss your child’s unique needs. If your child is attending the specific school and you have a concern about his development or behavior – schedule a meeting in the future where you and the teacher can talk about the problems at hand.

May 31st, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education, Tips

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How to stop kids from hitting and biting

kids fighting

You are enjoying a sunny afternoon at the playground when suddenly you hear a loud wail. Imagining it is your toddler, you rush to the area where children are playing and are horrified to find your child’s playmate sporting a teeth-imprinted arm while the mother of the victim gives you (and your kid) cold stares.

As much as you want to sink into the ground with embarrassment, you remain (somewhat) calm, apologize, and remove your child from the scene.

Surprisingly, biting and hitting are normal parts of childhood development. By the time children are in preschool, most of them have bitten or hit at least once and have also been on the receiving end of an unfriendly blow.

Why Children Bite And Hit?

Children become aggressive for a number of reasons.

  • Expressing emotions: Since young children can’t talk, they use biting and hitting to express anger, fear, frustration, or even love.
  • To seek attention: When children feel ignored, they use biting, hitting, or other aggressive measures to get noticed – even if the attention they receive is negative instead of positive.
  • Coping with change: Has another sibling entered the family? Are you moving or have you started a new job? Children become frustrated when they are coping with change and ultimately resort to hitting and biting as a way to express their fear over the changes happening around them.
  • For defense: Young children hit and bite for defense. If another child is hitting or biting them continuously, you can’t expect your toddler to stay quiet, right?
  • Teething: If your baby is teething, then it’s likely that he or she is biting to get that irritable itch out from their gums.

How To Stop Biting and Hitting?

In all instances, don’t throw a tantrum or spank children when they behave negatively. Using the retaliation protocol can teach children that violence causes violence. But of course, don’t leave the issue as it is – children should know that their behavior is wrong and should not be repeated.

  • Remain calm: We know it may be difficult but don’t lose your temper. Take a deep breath, make sure the other child is okay, and take your children away from the scene. No blaming or punishing during the first phase!
  • Talk it out: When you feel that your child has simmered down, ask about the cause behind the biting. Explain that it hurts their friend and we don’t hit/bite when upset.
  • Teach them problem-solving methods: Use imaginary play to teach children how they can resolve issues. You may pretend to be a friend with your child’s favorite toy. Teach them to express their emotions with words like, “This is my toy” and “Please give it back.”
  • Give attention: If you feel that your children are acting out due to lack of time with you, give them plenty of love and attention throughout the day. If you are a working parent, set aside an hour or two each evening for uninterrupted one-on-one with them.
  • Talk to the teachers: Make sure that the behavior is not being repeated at your child’s preschool. Talk with the teacher and find out about the preschool’s environment and whether or not some other children are biting, hitting, or teasing your toddler.

Even with the best prevention methods, incidents will happen until children grow out of the phase, which most children do after a certain age.  So stay firm and keep teaching children empathy. Give your kids the tools to deal with conflict constructively.

 

 

 

 

April 17th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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Building literacy every day

showing book

The ability to read, write, speak, listen, and understand starts at birth. These skills are considered the key to success in school and practical life. Researchers also agree that the time frame from birth to the age of 8 years is crucial for children’s development.

Although children learn primarily from their homes, preschool teachers also play an important role in laying the foundation for early literacy development. By exposing children to expanding vocabulary, knowledge, and experiences, the teachers at Montessori Kids Universe use a variety of fun and engaging strategies to develop literacy in the classroom.

Here are some literacy activities that are favorites in our classroom:

Read aloud

Reading aloud is one of the most important activities teachers and parents can do with children. In classrooms at Montessori Kids Universe, children gather in a circle while the teacher reads from a book holding it up so children can see and discuss the illustrations. The teachers also ask the children to make future predictions which enhances their understanding about how stories are structured.

Reading aloud builds many important foundation skills including introduction to new vocabulary, provides children with a model of fluent reader, and helps children gain an interest in what reading for pleasure is all about.

Nursery rhymes

Nursery rhymes provide great opportunities for children to learn early language and vocabulary skills. The repetition of rhymes teaches children how phonics work and sharpens their memory capabilities. According to experts, children who know eight nursery rhymes by heart at the age of four are usually amongst the best readers and spellers by the time they reach grade 3.

Most importantly, rhymes are fun and considered a great group activity where even the shyest students become confident as they take part in singing, dancing, and acting with their fellow classmates.

Storytelling sessions

Whether the stories are read from a book or told from the mind, children love to hear them. Good stories not only teach children new vocabulary but also enhances their emotions. Done correctly, this time should be interactive and allow children to take part by asking questions.

Usually, children talk more than they listen. However, by encouraging them to participate in storytelling sessions, they develop the habit of listening and become better listeners in the future.

Print awareness

Preschoolers at Montessori Kids Universe are surrounded by printed words. They are everywhere around the classroom – bulletin boards, cubicles, furniture, and materials are all labeled so children can learn to correspond spoken words to written ones.

Alphabet and numbers

Learning letters and numbers is crucial to the foundation of education for preschoolers. Through various activities and resources, children are taught to recognize and distinguish letters and numbers. In fact, every material found in the Montessori classroom is designed to be used in multiple ways over the months or years students spend in the classroom. Children don’t tire of the materials because the possibilities for learning are endless.

To see Montessori learning in action, check us out and schedule a tour at www. MontessoriKidsSugarLand.com.

 

January 16th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU

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Start the new year right

reading

A New Year has started and most of us have resolved to make ourselves better in one way or other in the year 2017. Although most New Years resolutions focus primarily on developing healthy habits, we at Montessori Kids Universe have another one for our parents – to foster reading habits in young children that encourage them to be better readers.

Every day you and I and millions of parents around the world feed and care for their children so they grow into happy and healthy individuals; however, we should also provide them with all the essentials that enhance their learning abilities.

Reading plays an important role in the growth and development of children. Studies have shown that children who are read to from an early age are likely to do better when transferred to formal education. Through stories, children are exposed to a wide variety of words which further enhance their language skills. Additionally, reading is a great form of entertainment and can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

Sadly, in a world full of television, video games, and mobile devices – getting children to read and taking the time out to read TO them is becoming a challenge on its own. However, if reading skills are established at an early age – children grow up to be better learners, listeners, and speakers.

So, this New Year, let’s all join hands and make a resolution that we will encourage better reading habits in our children. To help you out, here are some tips that you can apply on a regular basis.

READ EVERYDAY!

Create a habit of reading to children every day. Whether it’s at night before sleeping or after school – set aside at least 20 minutes when you put everything aside and read different books together. By following a set schedule, children will understand that reading is an important activity and will look forward to spending more time with you.

FILL CHILDREN’S ROOMs WITH BOOOKS!

Purchase plenty of books that are in accordance with your child’s age group and keep them at their reaching level. For budget-friendly options, you can also visit Book Fairs and thrift shops. The more variety children have, the more they will be encouraged to read or ask you to read to them.

BE A ROLE MODEL!

Children do what they see. Instead of fiddling around all day with your smartphone, let them see you reading. Show them how much you enjoy reading books and magazines to encourage them as well.

GET A LIBRARY CARD!

Visits to libraries are always fun. Take children to the nearest library and allow them to find books that they would like to read. Let them choose in order to build their interest level and confidence as well.

READ EVERYWHERE!

Reading should not be limited to books only. Make it fun by reading signs on shops when you are travelling or on everyday items such as cereal and milk boxes, toothpaste, and juice bottles.

Try these tips with your young ones and start 2017 in the right way – by giving children the gift of reading which they can cherish for a lifetime.

January 3rd, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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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

Posted In: Uncategorized

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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

Posted In: Uncategorized

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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

Posted In: Uncategorized

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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

Posted In: Uncategorized

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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

Posted In: Uncategorized

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