My children have been arguing, bickering, yelling, and getting frustrated with each other more often recently. I am usually pretty good at predicting when a conflict might arise between them, like if they have been spending too much time together … Continue reading
Welcome to those of you that have found your way here after attending or hearing about my parent education presentation from Friday.
Attached you will find the PowerPoint and below that are links to some of the referenced posts from yesterday!
Preparing the Kitchen Environment:
Preparing the Environment Around the House:
Integrating Montessori Language and Actions at Home:
My children have helped pack their own school (or daycare!) lunches for about two years. It has always been a small, daily way to build practical life skills. Now that they are 4 and 6, they are expected to pack their lunches with little to no intervention from an adult. They are able to accomplish this goal for the following reasons: We have carefully prepared the environment of our kitchen to allow them total freedom within the set limits, we have invested in a few tools to increase their independence in food preparation, and we have streamlined the process over the last two year.
I believe it is important to teach my children what to pack in their lunch and provide only food that is acceptable for our family as choices. I want them to have total freedom to decide what “snacks” to pack and therefore have to make sure I am only buying things I am okay with them consuming.
A properly packed lunch in our house must contain one thing from each category:
- A “Main Dish”: this is a term we use to mean something with protein like a sandwich, pretzels and hummus, apples and peanut butter, etc.
- A fruit
- 2 “snacks”: cheese, yogurt, raisins, nuts, applesauce, etc.
- A drink
These limits allow the kids to chose what they want to eat without ending up with a lunchbox full of cereal bars.
The Prepared Kitchen
We designate two shelves of the pantry and the lowest shelves of the refrigerator for lunch supplies and food. This means that the kids never have to ask for help in making their food selections. The set-up also helps facilitate snack time and if the kids need water throughout the day.
This is a picture of the lowest drawer in our pantry. It houses all of the kids’ lunch and snack supplies.
One of the main lessons learned came after I observed a Children’s House lunch period in the cafeteria. I watched the poor lunch monitors zooming from kid to kid helping them open various parts of their lunch. It was then that I decided to make sure my kids could access every part of their lunch without the teacher’s help. This is why we switched to using the Ziploc containers and remove all excess packaging during the packing process. The next lesson is that my kids are totally capable of packing their lunches, but when I hover too much or nag too much they ask me to do much more for them. If I am hovering in the morning, all of the sudden I am being asked to open the peanut butter jar or slice apples which didn’t seem to be an issue for them the day before. I also push myself to say “no” when asked for help. I want to make sure that they have attempted the action before stepping in. Most of the time they surprise themselves by being able to complete the task.
Lunch preparation is an important part of our day. Yes, it takes time and a bit of effort, but the payoff is huge!
A note: If you are concerned with time in the mornings, I recommend having children pack their lunches the evening before.
Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mothers out there! I had a great day yesterday and wanted to share what my children, with assistance and guidance from their father, made for me as a gift. A mosquito pot!
If you live in a region that has mosquitoes then you know how much they can cramp your style during the summer months. It is so hot where we live that the only time we can really spend outside, not emerged in water, is morning and evening. This also happens to be the time that mosquitoes also like to be out and about. When I heard about the idea of a mosquito pot from a friend and from Pinterest I knew it is what I wanted for Mother’s Day! It is a bonus that it is also a practical life activity that the kids can make together.
What is a mosquito pot? It is a large planter filled with a diverse mix of mosquito repelling plants with the theory being that the concentration of the variety of plants will increase the repellent power and provide the user with a nice mosquito free area, in our case our deck.
What type of plants should be used? We used catnip, citronella, marigolds, lemon grass, rosemary, and mint. We mixed the variety in two different pots.
How can the kids get involved?
If you make a mess, clean it up!
Simple, straightforward, and applicable to all stages of life. Here is how we implemented the above rule for our sanity and our kids’ independence!
1. Start Early: Children as young as one year have the ability to put their toys away. (Make sure your home is setup to allow this to happen. Toys should be stored on low shelves and in open bins). Starting at two, children can sweep up crumbs from placemats and floors and sop up spilled milk. Make it a habit and you won’t get many complaints.
2. Help as Little as Possible: As parents we have to back off from helping physically and verbally. It is easy for me to not rush in with the towel when water is spilled, but it is hard for me to not verbally help. I have a tendency to jump in to offer a suggestion on how to clean up a particular spill or mess so it is important for me to remember that the kids can figure it out if we give them enough time and space. To help mitigate this problem, I try to offer a question instead of an answer when they are stumped. Such as, “What do you think you could use to get all of the water off the ground?” Physically we only help when asked and even then it is best to limit the help to either demonstrate how to do something or to put your hand over the child’s to guide them in the proper procedure. I often have to put my hand on my 3 year old’s to help corral the last few crumbs into the dust pan.
3. Invest in the Right Tools: We bought our hand sweeper and children’s broom from Montessori Services, but I know the Dollar Store sells similar tools. Make sure that paper towels, cleaning spray (non-toxic), and other cleaning materials are accessible to children.
4. Suppress the Type A: When children clean they often don’t do it as you or I would. They miss spots. They use four times as many paper towels as necessary. Even with all of that, take a deep breath, it will be okay. Resist the urge to go back over there work too much and to intervene. I find it best to walk away so as not to nag or jump in. I have to remind myself that they are learning and every time they clean up they are improving.
5. Cleaning can also be Restitution: Most of our cleaning is daily restoration of toys and belongings or cleaning up small spills and after meals, but occasionally it is to right a wrong. Before we implemented our new art station, crayon markings would stray onto tabletops often intentionally. Instead of getting mad, which is how I felt on the inside, I just gave my son a Magic Eraser and had him restore his table to its rightful state with a reiteration that we color only on paper.
Cleaning up after oneself is a skill that must be taught and fostered like any other and all of the work you do on the front end will help your children and yourself in the long run.