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Practical life skills at home

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:

  •    Peeling and cutting bananas
  •    Squeezing orange juice
  •    Washing dishes
  •    Pouring water
  •    Watering flowers
  •    Caring for self by washing hands, brushing hair, etc.
  •    Cleaning up after playtime

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:

  •    Helping with laundry – taking clothes out of the washing machine, adding soap, sorting, and folding
  •     Getting dressed and undressing with little help
  •     Helping set up meals such as pouring milk and cereal, washing vegetables and fruits, setting the table, and cleaning up
  •    Getting ready for visitors – preparing beds, setting a flower arrangement, hanging towels, cleaning up toys
  •    Taking trips to the supermarket and helping in loading and unloading of grocery items
  •    Helping with baking and cooking

When applying practical life skills at home, always remember:

  •    To provide child-sized tools easily managed by small hands. For example, a child-sized mop for cleaning up, travel-sized bottles of dishwashing liquid, and even small gardening tools.
  •    Focus on the process and never on the results. Children take time to master the practical life skills and their end result may not look perfect. But they are learning and after they master the skills, you will have a lifelong helper at home.

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.

 

September 20th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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All about temper tantrums

Temper

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.

  • Give them choices over little things. For example, “Do you want apple juice or orange?” or “Do you want to take a bath now or after dinner?” This empowers children and gives them a voice.
    Keep off-limit or hazardous objects out of children’s reach to avoid struggles. Obviously, this may not be possible outside the home, but try to avoid areas that trigger your child’s tantrums.  
    Distract your child during the tantrum phase by offering them something else in place of what they can’t have. Start a new activity or simply change the environment.
  • Consider your child’s request carefully and avoid the abrupt “no”. Maybe their demands are not so outrageous
    Keep your child’s limits in mind and avoid activities like shopping during their naptimes or snack time..


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.

September 4th, 2017

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Staying sane during the toddler years

messy toddlers

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:

  1. Let children burn energy.

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.

  1. Remind yourself of what’s really important.

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.

  1. Teach children to respect “nice things.”

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.

  1. Arrange playdates.

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.

  1. Don’t force them into milestones they are not ready for.

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.

  1. Don’t compare.

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.

  1. Take time out for yourself.

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.

Happy parenting!

August 16th, 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

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How to spark creativity in children

pretend-play

Creativity is all about expressing oneself. It is all about being imaginative and trying new things. There is a misconception that creativity is limited to arts, crafts, music, dance, and writing. But creativity has no bounds and can be expressed in other areas of life as well.

It is sometimes assumed that children are more creative while others lack the talent. However, that is not the case and each one of us (including children) is capable of expressing ourselves in a unique way.

Of course, some children do get lost in the wonders of their imagination easily while others require more prompting. It is up to the parents, teachers, and other caregivers to encourage children and use real life experiences to spark their creativity which makes them more confident and competent learners in the future.

Here are some ideas to spark kids’ creativity:

Ask questions.

Children are born curious. They ask a lot of questions. Listen to them and inspire their imagination by asking them more questions. Make them wonder, “What if” and “What would have happened if we had a dinosaur for a pet?”

Don’t hover.

As much as we want to interfere, it is sometimes better to stand back and watch from afar. Let children play their own games without trying to manage them.

Limit TV and computer games.

TV programs and computer games are enjoyable for some time but children should not be allowed to zone in on the screen for long periods of time. Screen time should always be limited for young children.

Create art pieces with children.

Foremost, parents should keep an abundant supply of art materials in their home. From simple items such as papers and crayons to adornments like rhinestones, gems, and beads, children should have access to all and encouraged often to create pieces of art with them. It is also a good idea to sit down with children once in a while and make crafts together.

Encourage pretend play.

Young children love to play pretend with dolls, costumes, and accessories. Stock up on old dresses, Halloween costumes, hats, jewelry, and any other items that can help children jump into a new role. Keep them all accessible for children so they can enter the world of make believe whenever they like.

Read to children.

Books open a gateway for children to unlock their creative and imaginative potential. Read as often as you can. Make reading fun by changing your tone of voice or dressing up as the character in the book. Ask them to draw characters from their favorite book or allow them to act out the scenes from the story.

Most importantly, be a positive role model for children and enjoy the fun, creative, and imaginative life. If your children seeing you living life, they will do the same!

February 10th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Multi-Age Grouping in a Montessori Classroom

Multi-Age Grouping in a Montessori Classroom
In a traditional school setting, classrooms are divided by a single age group. Montessori educators believe that multi-age grouping is more beneficial for students, a concept that makes a lot of sense once fully understood. Montessori children are almost always placed in classes of a 3-year age group. This practice is tried and true, designed to bring the best educational experience possible to your child.

Multi-Age Groups and Small Children

Small children are often eager to learn from other children. It is common to see children play “school” during recess or pretend time. Younger kids tend to learn best when their education is disguised as play. Montessori Classrooms take this “game” and use structured activities to allow children to “teach themselves.”

Students are given direct lessons from their teachers but also benefit when learning from their peers. The younger students learn from the older, and the older students learn through teaching and example. Small children can watch the older kids take on more advanced lessons and learn through observation. This way, it is easy for Montessori educators to get a feel for where each child stands in their development.

Multi-Age Groups and Older Children

The same concept applies to older children, but in a more advanced way. Teaching someone else is an extremely effective way to reinforce your own knowledge. Children in Montessori classrooms teach each other real lessons that are often assigned by a teacher. A younger student enjoys being taught by an older student, and the older student can easily pinpoint what they do and do not know. This inspires them to go and seek the information that they are missing.

In a traditional classroom setting, opportunities for leadership are few and far between. What opportunities they may have are assigned by a teacher, giving little actual freedom to the student. In a Montessori classroom, these opportunities present themselves daily. Each child is free to express themselves, share knowledge, and sharpen each other’s skills.

Each child is unique in their gifts and development. Self-directed, peer-to-peer learning creates a student who is ready, willing, and excited to learn. The multi-age group concept breeds confidence in its older learners, inspires young students, and creates a unique and highly effective learning experience for everyone.

January 30th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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