My Blog

pre-schoolers

Making Peace with Star Wars

My husband and I put a lot of effort into keeping our home free from violent media influences. It's an uphill battle that we're committed to fighting, andone that sometimes requires a little creative thinking.

Zachary's male classmates (ages 3 and 4) are fascinated by Star Wars. Yes, you read right: ages 3 and 4, not 13 and 14. They know all the characters, all the spaceships, and, of course, all the violence that goes with it. Zach would come home every day, his head a jumble of confusion:...

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Manic Brain

When I decided that screen time would no longer be a part of my 4-year-old's life, I knew I would have to deal with screen detox. The first day of Spring Break was also the first day of the "No More Screens" rule. Almost immediately after waking up, Zach asked to watch videos. I said no and reminded him of the new rule. He got very angry and cried. I acknowledged his feelings and stood my ground firmly and with love. When he calmed down, we had breakfast and played trains while the baby...

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The Medium is the Message

Screen time update: A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook about screen time at our house. I wrote about how Zachary was frustrated when it came time to turn off the computer after his daily 15-minute screen time allotment, and how he had found a healthy outlet in crying.

I wish I could report that he had either developed the ability to turn off the screen without getting upset, or had at least continued to cry without escalating to anger. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), after a...

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Three Steps to Academic Success

3-period-fruitThirty thousand. 30,000! That’s the number of words scientists say you should be speaking to your child daily to increase his chances of academic success. Most parents reach and exceed this magic number, but how do you know if your child is really benefiting from your efforts? Do you feel you might be choosing the wrong words or confusing your child by rambling?

I’m about to share with you a simple but powerful Montessori technique that will put your worries to rest. To find out what it is,...

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Communication for Peace

So many struggles with our children stem from conflicting goals: you need to go grocery shopping and they want to stay home; you need them to sit down for dinnerand they want to keep playing. Imagine if there could be a way of communicating with your child that allowed you to achieve your goals while respecting their priorities. Well, there is.

The practice of Nonviolent Communication recently came into my life. NVC is a way of expressing"what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling,...

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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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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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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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Hands Behind Your Back

From the time we were pre-schoolers, my brother and I constantly visited world-class museums and galleries with my parents. There was one rule that we were expected to adhere to without fail: hands behind your back. For us, "hands behind your back" meant: "We trust you and believe that you deserve to be in this beautiful and inspiring place. Show us that you can be trusted." Even now, whenever I enter a museum or a store that sells fragile things, my hands swing instinctively behind my back.

...

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