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Stop the whining!

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

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

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

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

How to un-whine children

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

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

  1.  Take action

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

  1. Relate to them

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

  1. Be calm

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

  1. Give rewards

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

  1. Don’t give in

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

Connect with children

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

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

 

January 7th, 2018

Posted In: Tips

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What to do when your preschooler lies

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

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

Why do preschoolers lie?

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

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

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

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

Ways to encourage honesty in children

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

Connect with children

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

Don’t accuse

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

Don’t punish

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

Avoid judgments

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

Be a role model

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

 

 

 

 

 

December 20th, 2017

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The beauty of Montessori materials

 

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

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

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

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

  1. Moveable Alphabet

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

  1. The Golden Beads

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

  1. The Pink Tower

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

  1. Brown stairs

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

  1. The world map

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

  1. The Checkerboard

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

  1. Practical Life Materials

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

 

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

 

December 7th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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The unique Montessori classroom

A Montessori classroom is a child’s second home. In fact, it serves as the child’s first step into the new world. As the child slowly makes this transition, it is essential that he is provided with an environment that not only makes the shift easy but also facilitates learning to the maximum.

According to the Montessori Method, a Montessori classroom should be planned and equipped in such a way that children adapt easily to the environment without compromising their learning process.We are all familiar with the setting of the traditional classroom where young students are provided adult-sized furniture while the shelves and cupboards are placed so high that the child is always in need of an adult’s assistance. Additionally, in a traditional classroom, children are usually confined to their desks while the teacher dictates the same lesson to the whole class.

However, Maria Montessori was contrary to the traditional learning environment and believed that, “The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.” Her desire was to provide the children with a learning space where they had the freedom to explore, learn, and experience at their own pace and desire. This led her to create the Montessori Method which focuses on shaping the child as a whole being while making the learning process pleasant by equipping the classrooms with a variety of different materials.

The focus of the Montessori prepared environment remains on the six basic principles – Freedom, Structure and Order, Beauty, Nature and Reality, Social Environment, and Intellectual Environment. Here is a brief description about each of the principles and why they hold importance in the child’s learning and developmental process.

 Freedom

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

-Maria Montessori

The prime principle of the Montessori prepared environment is freedom. Just imagine how you would feel if you had to take assistance for the smallest task or were limited to the same task daily without any challenges. Our children are the same way. They have the potential that we, as parents, oftentimes ignore.

The Montessori Method is based on the belief that children who are given freedom can learn with their own natural instinct. The prepared environment of the classroom allows children to choose the activity according to their own preference and pace while enhancing social interaction amongst peers.

Structure and Order

Parents of preschoolers will agree that a temper tantrum can be expected whenever their child’s routine is disrupted. This is because children between the ages of one and five pass through a sensitive stage. Montessori believed that during this phase, children should experience order, consistency, and familiarity in their environment. Since children of this age have limited verbal skills, any disorientation can create chaos which can be avoided by having a consistent schedule and ground rules.

The Montessori method meets the child’s need for order by providing a space that is organized and structured according to their needs. Materials are in the same place every day while lessons and activities are conducted at the same time. The school day ends with children placing all the materials and their completed work in the given space. This sense of order enhances children’s understanding of the world and allows them to organize their time and space efficiently.

Beauty

Visit the MKU classroom and at first glance you will notice how well-organized the environment is. Everything is beautifully displayed while the classrooms are neat, uncluttered, and orderly. Maria Montessori emphasized the aesthetic appeal of the Montessori classroom and always encouraged teachers to decorate classrooms in such a way that learners come eagerly to learn and work. The environment should reflect peace and tranquility while the arrangement should always be well-maintained.

Nature and Reality

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that 60 minutes of unstructured free play daily is essential for the child’s physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, studies show that children are spending less time outdoors than they were 20 years ago. However, Dr. Montessori agreed with the benefits of outside play and always emphasized that educators should take children outside as much as possible. Children don’t like to sit inside, and keeping them confined in one room can make them cranky and sluggish. Giving them outside time daily enhances their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

Social environment

In Montessori classrooms, children are grouped with different ages. This structure allows children to share and work cooperatively while enhancing empathy and respect towards each other. Multi-aged classrooms allow older children to develop leadership qualities and younger ones to learn to return the favor in the coming years by being in the same spot as the elders.

Intellectual environment

The last but the most important principle is the Intellectual environment. The Montessori Method claims that children develop a love of lifelong learning when they take responsibility for themselves and their education. The intellectual environment moves students from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. Each Montessori material can be used in multiple ways to enhance learning, whether it be through language, sensorial, life skills, math, culture, or art.

When all the principles of the Montessori prepared environment are combined, the child develops independence, focus, adaptability, self-confidence, self-discipline, and patience. The freedom to fully learn not only helps the child succeed in academic endeavors but also in practical, everyday life.

October 24th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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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

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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 build gross motor skills

Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills involve using the large muscles of the body to perform everyday activities such as walking, running, and jumping. They are also important for sporting and playground skills such as climbing, catching and throwing a ball.

How do you know if your children are reaching important gross motor milestones? Children who have problems with gross motor skills are likely to:

  • Achieve sitting, crawling, and walking much later than average
  • Move stiffly
  • Avoid physical activities
  • Get tired frequently
  • Have trouble maintaining an upright position when sitting on a tabletop or mat
  • At an older age, have problems following instructions during physical tasks (e.g. stepping forward before throwing, maneuvering through obstacle courses)

Weak gross motor skills can get in the way of having fun. Children who lack gross motor skills also often lack fine motor skills that are necessary for formal school work and day-to-day tasks, so ignoring this problem can lead to other problems that affect every area of your children’s lives.

You can help children build strong gross motor skills by practicing these fun activities at home.

Hopscotch:

A game of hopscotch helps strengthen muscles along with balance and coordination. The one and two-boxed pattern will allow children to gain a sense of balance as they hop on two legs then one and vice versa.  The game can also be played indoors by using colored tapes.

You’re It:

The traditional game of tag requires a lot of running and dodging. It can be played indoors as well as outdoors and accommodates any amount of players present. You can vary the game rules and have kids run in pairs or have them hold hands.

Indoor obstacle course:

An obstacle course is a fun way to give children lots of physical exercise while also giving them goals to accomplish. Use furniture, pillows, blankets, and even cardboard boxes to create areas for children to crawl on and through. This is also a good way to teach children new vocabulary such as through, under, inside, and over.

 Ball play:

Whether it is throwing a ball, catching, kicking, or hitting with a bat, playing with balls is a fun way to improve concentration, aim, and coordination. Use a variety of shapes, sizes and textures from plastic to basketballs and even footballs to keep the games interesting.

Water play:

Most children love to kick, splash, and run around in water. While water play is a fun activity, it is beneficial for developing gross motor skills as well. And this is not limited to swimming only. Just running around the garden trying to dodge sprinklers or pouring water from one bucket to another can develop muscular and core strength.

Encourage children to take part in the above activities and with time and a little effort, you will be amazed at how quickly their initial clumsiness turns into coordination.

 

July 9th, 2017

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How to stimulate even the youngest infant

infant-stimulation

Many of us have heard the term infant stimulation but don’t know what it is or why it is important.

Infant stimulation is using specific activities to arouse babies’ senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. This helps in improving their attention span, curiosity, and memory which enables them to reach developmental milestones faster.

Recent research on children’s brain development has shown that infants’ environments have a dramatic effect on their growth. This impacts how well they think and learn as both children and adults.

There is no need for special training or products to stimulate the young mind. As parents and caregivers, we have several simple, free opportunities throughout the day to satisfy children’s natural desire to learn.

Make eye contact. Infants start recognizing faces much earlier than you think. You can make the most of the time when their eyes are open by maintaining eye contact with them. Talk to children while changing diapers and make funny faces. Remember, every time they stare at you they are building their recognition memory.

Interact with them. Instead of leaving children with their stuffed toys in the crib, make stuffed animals come to life. How? By giving them a voice and moving them around. This will enhance their imagination and encourage their creativity.

Play peek-a-boo. Lightly cover the baby’s face with a blanket and talk to her, so she can hear even when her eyes are closed. Pull the blanket away with a “peek-a-boo!” This will not only bring a few giggles but will also teach her that Mom may disappear for a while but she always comes back.

Grab a tissue. Most young babies love pulling out tissue from the box. It may be a few cents’ loss for you but tissues are one of the best sensory play items. Young children can crumple them, tear them, or smooth them out. The key is to allow them to explore their environment safely.

Read books. No one can disagree with the importance of reading. Young infants might not be able to follow the story but they will definitely enjoy seeing the colorful pictures and the sound of your voice. Plus, reading is a great way to connect with children and spend some one-on-one time with them.

Point out differences. Choose two pictures that are similar but have a minor difference and display them. Even the youngest infant will go back and forth between the pictures trying to distinguish the similarities and differences. Simple games like this one engage the mind and babies’ natural curiosity.

Let them smell YOU. Avoid exposing young children to artificially scented perfumes and deodorants. Instead, let them get used to your unique smell.  Hold them, cuddle them, and give them lots of kisses in order to enhance their oxytocin, aka the ‘love’ hormone.

Include them. Whether you are going somewhere or trying a new food, engage children by telling them everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. You may not realize it, but this gives children endless vocabulary-building opportunities.

Always remember, stimulation works best when babies are alert and giving you their complete attention. If you find your infant losing interest or acting tired, it’s time for less stimulation and a rest.

By applying these simple tips regularly, your baby will not only grow intellectually but will also grow more in love with you. Nothing can replace quality time together, so make the most of your time with your infants.

 

May 19th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Encouraging Independence – 9 Tips for Parents of Preschoolers

Preschool shoes

“I’ll do it myself!” If you’re a parent of a preschooler, you’ve likely heard this a thousand times.

Of course, it’s usually when you are running late that 4-year-old Cathy decides to put on her own socks and shoes. So you help her – but this time only!

Preschool experts say that children should be encouraged whenever they wish to exert their independence. Even though they may need plenty of parental help, preschoolers are typically able to do more than we expect from them.

So how can we as parents encourage their independence?

According to Diane Kinder, PhD and a professor at the University of Washington, “It takes more time in the beginning to teach independence, but in the long run, it benefits both parent and child.”

Here are some tips to encourage independence in young children:

  1. Expect more. At Montessori Kids Universe, children are expected to clean up after themselves, hang up their jackets, and pour their own water at snack time. However, when they leave the classroom…they change! The thumb goes in the mouth and the lunch bag is handed over to the parents. Maybe it’s a good idea to raise the expectation bar a bit more and allow children to stretch and meet it.
  2. Resist doing it for them. It might be quicker and easier for you to help them put on their shoes, but in the long run it won’t help children become more self-sufficient. Instead, ask them if they can do it themselves or if they need help. The words will work like magic and most children will take pride in doing it on their own.
  3. Assign chores. Assigning children age-appropriate chores not only builds their confidence but also helps them feel more capable as contributing members of the family.
  4. Don’t redo. Resist the urge to help children between tasks or “fix” their work. Praise them for what they have done well. If you redo their work, you might discourage them from trying in the future. If you find your child getting frustrated with a task or having difficulty, don’t just take over. Instead, say, “Wow, you did a great job and we’ll do it again tomorrow.” Don’t let them give up. You want them to learn perseverance and dedication to a task.
  5. No ifs. Most of us have a habit of saying, “If you clean up your books, we will go to the park.” How about saying, “When you are done cleaning up, we’ll go to the park.” Give it a try and see how a minor change in the sentence transforms children’s attitude.
  6. Let them work it out. Kids often get into mini squabbles about petty issues, and you won’t always be there to referee. Stand back and let kids work out their own problems (unless the mini tiff has turned into a beating competition).
  7. Involve them. If your daughter has colored on the walls, have her help wash it off. If she knocks over her friend’s block tower, tell her to reconstruct it. Include her in righting her wrongdoings.
  8. Lighten up. We parents also get frustrated easily. It’s okay if your children are not perfectly setting the table or buttoning their shirts. They are young and still learning. Let them learn at their own pace and make mistakes along the way.

As parents, we struggle when our children struggle. But have patience, take a step back, and watch from the sidelines so your children can learn new skills – regardless of the time it takes.

May 3rd, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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