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early childhood development

Bathroom Botany

I was sitting outside, enjoying a bit of sunshine, when Zachary walked out ofthe bathroom and approached me with an inquisitive look. "Mom, can plants grow with pee?"

The question from my just-turned-four year old caught me off guard.

"Uh, I'm not sure."

He reasoned: "Well, pee comes from water, right? So maybe they can."

"Huh. Maybe they can." And then I realized the potential this question had.

"Hey, do you want to do an experiment? We can try to see if plants will grow if we water them with...

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Spooning & Point of Interest

This is the first installment in a joint effort between The Full Montessori and Voila Montessori. Every week, we'llshare with you a video (by Jeanne-Marie) and a blog post (by me) highlighting one presentation from the Primary curriculum and explaining one aspect of Montessori theory. It's bite-sized Montessori training that you can immediately put to good use at home! If you enjoy this, please share with others so our efforts can reach many families!

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When little children...

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Extensions

One of the activities I felt was lacking in my child's previous Montessori experience was the use of extensions. No, I'm not talking about artificial hair pieces! Extensions are activities that are introduced after the initial presentation with a material, in order to encourage the child to re-visit the material and solidify the skills and/or concepts it's designed to provide.

Yesterday, my son came out of his new school with a huge smile, holding this painting:

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This is a perfect example of an...

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Letting the Child Lead the Way

You might be familiar with the idea thatchildren learn best when they are following their interests. But you might not know that by "following the child", you're also helping them develop executive functions: skills like impulse control, delayed gratification, problem-solving, strategizing and concentrating, whicharemuch bigger determinants for success in life than IQ.

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Steven Hughes, where he focused on the development in childhood of executive functions.I...

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Pom-Poms vs. Broccoli

Practical Life activities shouldbe, above all else, practical: real activities that have a purpose and a goal. Practical Life IMG_0309should never, EVER be busy work. Busy work is insulting to the child's intelligence and developmental drives.

So, let's say you want to introduce transferring with tongs. Instead of the ubiquitous pom-poms you see all over Pinterest, how about using broccoli?

Here's what I did with Zach (who just turned 3), when he asked if he could help in the kitchen:

I had already...

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To Follow the Child

Now that Zachary is three years old,I'm constantly surprised by how differently Montessori happens at home and in school.

In a classroom, you plan your lessons in part around the child's interests and abilities, but also based on the sequence in your album. The children are (for the most part) happy and willing to receive the presentations. Not so at home when it's your own child. I've learned that nine times out of ten, we'll only do anything productive if Zachary initiates it. If I invite...

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Floor Bed Confidential

It seems like there are two major complaints when it comes to using a floor bed: the baby rolls off while sleepingand/or the baby crawls off to explore the room instead of staying put and falling asleep. I've experienced both situations, and I hope that I can provide some encouragement and realistic expectations for parents going through the same scenarios. Because the truth is, when used correctly, the floor bed is an amazing tool for supporting your child's development, both mental and...

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Art & Montessori

A common misconception among Montessori skeptics is that there isn't enough emphasis on teaching art in the Montessori classroom. If their definition of teaching art includes 25children sitting together, making paintings that look almost exactly the same, based on the teacher's original idea, then they are absolutely right: you will NEVER find this type of art instruction in a genuine Montessori environment.

(As one friend says: "In conventional school art classes, the teacher has to write...

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Montessori Children Don't Throw

When my son was around 14 months old, he started throwing things: toys, silverware, food, you name it (although he wisely never threw a glass!). My first instinct should've been to stop and observe him to find out why he was throwing. But instead, my ego got the best of me and I began thinking: "You shouldn't be throwing; you're a Montessori child!" As if a floor bed, cloth diapers, and a weaning table were a vaccine against normal infant developmental phases.

It took many throws before I...

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10 Quick Tips for Baking with Your Toddler

Note: You'll find our fabulous, healthy, and toddler-approved recipe at the end of this post! Try it out and let us know if you like it!

I love to cook, and I'd love to include Zach every time I'm in the kitchen. But as a working mom, I rarely get more than 15 minutes to cobble together a semi-healthy meal during the week. Instead of pressuring myself to involve my toddler in weeknight dinner preparation, Zach and I bake muffins on the weekends, and we've been making the same recipe for the...

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