We are a home based Montessori Preschool in Halifax, Nova Scotia & we love children & helping them grow.
Wow !!! Long time no see. It has been a busy, crazy year and I haven’t had much time to write.
I do not forget you though and I know that Montessori education is still a subject you guys want to read about.
So let’s talk about it more !
First let me catch you up quickly… in June 2020, in the heart of the pandemic, I got pregnant with our second child, of course, like the first time, it meant a lot of nausea and hard times during the 1st and 2nd trimester. I eventually felt better and was working in my classroom as usual but we had to move houses… so we moved as I was entering the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. We had to navigate a lot of changes for our toddler who was gonna become a big sister, had a tired mom and was adapting to a change of home. We got lucky, managed to be allowed to have my parents around to help out with classroom, toddler, cooking, and life… as I gave birth to a wonderful baby boy in February.
Fast forward 6 months… and here we are, in the heart of the summer, ending our vacation and ready for summer school before a new school year with new students and my baby ! Talk about added challenges lol
I love it though… all of it !
Today, I quickly wanted to talk about freedom of choice. You know how it is (or not and that’s ok, we are here to learn), we offer choices for children to get a say in what activity, toy, material they want to have at the moment. We talk about it a lot for toddlers in the Montessori classroom… but what about babies !?
It goes the same… babies as they get out of the first three months of life in the outer world and are getting used to be less of a newborn and a little more active (rolling, wiggling and laughing on purpose, smiling, answering to their name…), they have shown some preferences in what they like and who they like. They have habits and you better follow their lead to adapt to their growing personality. It’s fascinating !
To answer their needs, we allow choices. Yes ! Babies can make choices. So as our baby is 6 months, it looks like:
Babies will learn, this way, that their voice, choice is being respected, because to me, in Montessori, freedom of choice is RESPECT.
Here is a list of some possible toys for babies around this age:
Sensory ball set – so baby gets to touch, mouth different textures
Wooden building blocks – Get the set and offer just one or two to baby and as he grows, offer more so baby can start building later on.
Teether – all sorts exist, our favourite is Sophie la Girafe teether
Rattle ring – so much fun as it rings when baby shakes it and it is easy to grab and mouth
Let me know what are your baby’s favourites !!!
With Montessori love,
We are about to finish 2020, Christmas has passed and it was calm and fun as I had wished. I feel very lucky and a little overwhelmed now that this magical phase has come and gone…
Why ? Well, because now we are heading towards the next chapter of our life : a family of four.
As I have observed some of my contemporaries and/or friends go through this phase, I am not sure what to think. Some seem happy and their life has changed but habits and routines have stayed quite the same with an extra member, others seem to have been overwhelmed and chaos can ensue. How do we know what will come ? How do we know the best way to prepare ourselves ?
I think we don’t know and being oblivious that a big change is coming would be going towards chaos but stressing about it is not helpful either. I am lucky that my husband takes over extra to make this transition easier on me, our toddler but also our business, we can’t forget about that either because we help people raise human beings and everything is not going to stop because of baby to be born so the support system has to step up where I can’t and will not be able to do it all myself. My pride might take a hit but the well being of the children I love around me is more important. We all need the extra care.
I am asking some people around me for extra help and that’s ok, creating our support system when family is far away is even more important. I wanna thank this support system (friends mainly).
One month away, I also need to prepare my daughter to what is to come, there will be a huge change, we want to keep some routines normal so she can feel safe however, the change is undeniably coming, a baby will enter the home, a sibling will be in her life and… what is to expect is unknown… more or less.
So here is what we have been doing:
We have talked about the baby growing into mom’s belly – she is allowed kisses and cuddles to baby sibling as much as she wants. She loves it and talks to baby everyday, she says hello, asks baby to move around when mom says it hurts, she says good night, sings… she is building their relationship already, the one I can guide but will not interfere because it’s between her and her sibling.
We asked her to be involved in our family of four’s life and what best way to do it than using Practical Life ? She is part of the nesting process of going through baby clothes, help wash, sort, fold so we are ready for baby. She is gladly sharing her baby clothes and toys as we make baskets and carts ready for baby.
She has asked to learn how to put a diaper on. We cloth diaper mainly so we have used our newborn diapers on her baby doll (quite realistic even in size) and she loves it. We do know that a real baby might be moving and not always agree but we are here for them to develop this bond eventually as well. We just want her involved not in charge of baby.
We remind her that change is coming but that she is first and foremost loved. We have taken the time for extra cuddles and time together as I need to lie down more and more.
We have prepared a gift basket for big sister so she knows on D day or Birth day that this a step up for her as well: she will get a few books on being a big sister but also on family love and how much she is loved, she will get a carrier for her baby doll – made by my mom out of my carrier (when I was a baby) and a present just for her.
Having a baby in the middle of a pandemic also means that she will not be allowed in the hospital to come see us, this is the part that I find hard… but we accept once again that change is happening.
Pregnancy is a roller coaster in many ways even more at the end when we are all preparing our best for what is to come, the miracle of life and a new life for our family.
How do/did you prepare for a sibling to come ? Tell us in comments.
Happy new year, take care.
With Montessori Love,
Here it is, the time to talk about what you’d like to give your child around Christmas or even more, a list to give to family members so you don’t end up with things you don’t want.
Our daughter is not a child growing with tons of toys, she has access to a Montessori classroom so the needs outside of it can be pretty simple.
I will reiterate the importance of practical life activities in the home for your child to feel included and participate in home life (sweeping, moping, cooking, washing etc).
Here is the list of our favourite toys for the past year:
Wooden blocks – this is a 100 block toy box from Melissa and Doug. it’s been loved for way over a year by Alexis and my students. It gives opportunities for creativity and imaginative play. I love that there is no colour, it makes for even more imagination.
Magnatiles – one of the only plastic toy we have but we did not cheap out on quality, the real magnatiles are hard plastic, very resistant and also screwed on so if mouthed by a younger sibling, no magnets get out of it. The hours of play with this one are countless for both our daughter and her friends.
Baby doll – this is a realistic one, we love reality in our toys especially as we are getting ready for a sibling to arrive in a few months, it makes even more sense. This baby has been sleeping with her for a year now.
Soft fabric doll – this one we love because it shows diversity of colour in people/toys. she loves playing with it and carrying it around. It makes for a lot of pretend/real life play as Rosie (doll’s name) has a life full of excitement.
Alexis has developped a taste for drawing and she does it on paper with crayons pencils but also loves this erasable board, we take it out as well it’s super practical.
Geoboard is great for manipulation and creativity, shapes etc
BOOKS… we will never have enough as long as they are quite realistic in their story. We are still dealing with first plane children (0-6 years old). I will make a specific article soon. 🙂
I hope this helps. Enjoy, the Holidays as a family and with friends, there is nothing better than experiences to share together – those are also invaluable gifts from life.
With Montessori love,
PS: some of these links are helping me get a commission at no cost to you. Thank you for contributing to my work to bring Montessori parenting into your home.
Il est maintenant temps de commencer à se préparer pour l’arrivée de bébé n°2. Je suis enceinte de 25 semaines donc sur le point de rentrer dans le 3eme trimestre. J’ai hâte et maintenant que j’ai plus d’énergie et que je mange mieux c’est polus facile – je peux manger correctement maintenant que les nausées ont disparu. Il faut encore travailler à un équilibre alimentaire autour des brûlures d’estomac mais somme toute, je me sens mieux ! Yay 2ème trimestre! Ma fille et mes élèves ont tous tellement hâte et nous sommes de nouveau dans une routine scolaire normale, nous avons même accueilli 2 nouvelles élèves cette année.
Je vois et lis beaucoup d’articles sur ce qu’il faut pour être prêt à accueillir bébé et je suis honnêtement choquée de voir à quel point on nous dit d’acheter, acheter, acheter, vous avez besoin de ceci ou de cela et la liste est longue. La plupart de ces articles sont subventionnés par des compagnies donc c’est une forme de publicité et cela vous fait dépenser plus d’argent que nécessaire. Je pense que ce dont les nouveaux parents ont besoin c’est de se sentir rassurés, plus qu’ils n’ont besoin de PLUS DE CHOSES. Bien sûr, vous êtes libres de dépenser ce que vous voulez et de remplir votre maison de choses (utiles ou non) mais je vous assure qu’au bout du compte, quand bébé sera arrivé, vous vous sentirez plus dépassé par le bazar et la quantité de choses autour de vous qu’autre chose. Tout le monde a des besoins différents donc il est difficile de vous dire ce que vous devriez avoir, mais je peux vous aider par une approche Montessori et minimaliste.
Si je n’avais qu’un seul message pour de nouveaux parents, ce serait : votre bébé a besoin de vous, de vêtements adaptés à la saison/ au climat où vous vivez, de la nourriture et un endroit pour dormir (et parfois, c’est aussi sur vous que l’enfant dort).
J’essaierai donc d’être succincte dans ma liste de ce qui nous a été nécessaire dans notre maison Montessori la première fois et en préparant cette arrivée nouvelle pour 2021 :
Et voilà ! J’espère avoir du lait pour bébé, ma pompe et des biberons afin que d’autres personnes comme le papa ou sa grande sœur puissent être investis – nous avons adoré notre coussin d’allaitement (Boppy) mais j’ai vu des gens s’en sortir à merveille avec un gros coussin régulier. Nous avons encore notre porte-bébé et une écharpe de portage pour les débuts.
Tous les besoins sont addressés : manger, changer, dormir, bouger.
Cela peut sembler peu conventionnel de ne pas avoir de lit à barreaux ou de table à langer ou un chauffe-biberon etc mais nous avons trouvé des moyens, nous avons moins de choses, nous nous sentons bien et nous sommes confiants que nous nous adapterons aux besoins de bébé lorsqu’il/elle sera arrivé(e). J’espère que vous aussi pourrez vous sentir confidant et si non, je ne suis pas loin, juste un email et je vous répondrai.
Hello dear readers, bloggers, parents, caretakers !
Today, I want to take the time to answer a few questions I received after my article on language activities 3 weeks ago.
How do I know if my child is ready for sandpaper letters ?
So, no need to start on SPL too fast unless you have done sound games and your child has picked up on finding the 1st sound of any word and/or you feel you child’s interest lowers – sign that they need more. Sandpaper letters come to add the visual letter associated with sounds they can identify in sound games. Then, never forget it’s also about learning the tracing, the feeling to prepare the brain and hand to write later on.
Which SPL should I present first ?
This is on you and the child’s interests – letters associated with names in the family or friends’ are a good starting point. Try to present letters that are graphically different from one another at first and not too hard to trace. We want the child to be interested and challenged but not discouraged. Avoid, a, c and o in the same lesson. With one of my students, we did j,d, e. These letters do not trace the same and they meant something to the child – aka first letters of names that are familiar to her.
When did you know when to start working with the movable alphabet ?
That’s a tricky one because all trainings do no teach the same thing. Some agree that the child needs to be able to recognize all letters/sounds from SPL work. I don’t disagree with this, however, to me, it’s more about how sound games are going. The child needs to be able to identify beginning sounds, last sounds and middle of a word sound(s) before you start this work. If not, this can be very frustrating for both the child and the adult as you will feel like some work is missing and a lot of words cannot be written since the child is missing some important info – like identifying the middle sounds, understand that words are made of sounds in a certain order. Even if we start only with CVC word (3-letter words with consonant-vowel-consonant, ex: car, cat, lip, far), there is a process not to be rushed in the brain of the child to analyze sounds and be ready to do so. If a child is rushed, there will be too much frustration and this will backfire and potentially slow down the process more than needed as the child will be confused and mix things up. Our goal is to help and guide, not create language problems.
Another thing and this is a pet peeve for me : nobody needs to care about the names of the letters unless later on when working on alphabetical order and dictionary, knowing the names of the letters is confusing children and slows down the writing/reading process. I already had students who could spell their names with letter names (as they can recognize letters by names and they have been taught to do so) but are confused when it comes to identifying sounds. I repeat, to learn how to understand the analyzing process of sounds coming together into words, you need sounds not letters’ names. Rant over.
What if my child is over 3 and can’t seem to identify sounds ?
Leave your child time to do so and make sure to make sound games fun, not a chore when the adult gets frustrated because the child cannot seem to get it. It’s an analysis process. The child’s brain needs to be ready and needs lots of practice. We never rush this process – sound games can last for months, years depending on the child. It’s about respecting the child’s rhythm.
Do I let my child make mistakes, it drives me nuts ?
So this mom was talking about spelling mistakes with the movable alphabet. My answer is YES, your child needs to go through this process – these ‘mistakes’ are not real unless the child can correct himself/herself by reading later on and realize by himself/herself that this word is written a certain way. As teachers, we interfere way later in the process. It will fall into place and we, the adults, need to breathe and realize it is part of the process.
There you go, those are some questions I had over the past weeks and I hope they can help you as well.
Have a great week.
With Montessori love,
Yes ! Finally ! It’s fall and I cannot be happier. I love Fall, this is the most beautiful, colourful season. The fashion is the best, the temperatures are bearable and enjoyable. Since I am in my second trimester, I enjoy it even more this year.
With toddlers, there are many ways to honour the new equinox:
Art : we have 2 activities that we change for fall, the punching holes to make leaf shapes (and paste them), as well as our poking activity (leaves, apples, pumpkins…).
-Apples are a must this season, as well as pears, pumpkins and other squash. We already made delicious apple sauce a couple of weeks ago, we will be working on apple pies this week at school and soon will come pumpkin pies and my plan is to have an orange thanksgiving so all the food will be orange.
This is for all seasons but I find that fall is perfect because it’s not too hot, my child is wearing pants so she is less scared of scraping her legs while trying on new things like climbing this rock at our favourite Nature park. That’s a perfect moment for observing squirrels and other animals getting ready for Winter. I love it !
Last but not least – Books:
There is so much to know about pumpkins, apples, Halloween, Thanskgiving, animals getting ready for cold weather, colours… that books are also a perfect way to convey our love for Autumn.
I hope you enjoy yourself this season because it is packed with great fun and learning activities. Decorate the house with pieces of Nature found outside, no need for fancy decorations you need to put away in a bin cluttering your house when all we need is right there for us.
In Montessori love,
Now is the time to start thinking about what we need to get ready for, when it comes to baby #2. I am 20 weeks pregnant so half-way through this pregnancy. I am really excited as I have a little more energy and I eat better – back to balanced meals as nausea disappeared. I still have to work around some heartburn and cannot eat my heart’s content but I eat better so I also feel better – yay 2nd trimester ! My toddler and students are also happy as it means back to our routines and our regular work cycle. We even have new students arriving this time of year.
I read and see a lot about what we need to get ready for baby. I am honestly appalled at how much there is out there that tells you to buy buy buy, you need this and that. These blogs and articles are all sponsored a way or another by companies that want you to get more so you spend money on them. I understand that of course, however, I do think that what new parents or second time parents need is peace of mind more than STUFF. Of course, you are free to spend as much as you want and get your house full of things if it makes you feel better but I can assure you that eventually, when baby is here, you will feel more overwhelmed than anything else. Everybody’s needs are different so we can’t really tell you what to get but I can help you with a minimalist and Montessori approach.
If I have only one message for parents-to-be it will be this : your baby needs you, clothes for the season, food and a place to sleep (which sometimes, is YOU).
So I will be succinct in my list of what suits our needs in our Montessori home:
And that’s it ! I will hopefully have milk to feed baby, my pump and bottles as well so other people can feed baby such as my husband, grandparents and the big sister – we also loved our nursing pillow (Boppy) but I have seen people doing great with a regular pillow. We also still have a carrier and I will get a scarf/wrap to carry baby at the beginning
All needs are addressed: feeding, changing, sleeping, moving.
It might seem unconventional to not have a changing table or a crib or a bottle warmer etc etc but we find ways around this, we have less, we feel good and we are confident that we will adapt to our baby’s needs as she/he comes. I hope you can also feel confident and if not, I am one email away !
Do you love Montessori but you feel lost when it comes to how handling language ? Then, I am here for you !
I have talked about vocabulary for younger children here. I will now try my best to explain the next steps.
One of the first thing to do with children 2,5 year old and up is keeping on building vocabulary: surroundings (home, garden, store etc) but also less familiar words like animals, even the ones they don’t encounter and we still try to keep pictures as realistic as possible. Instead of the 2-period-lesson I wrote about above. We add a third period – for this one, the child needs to be verbal – as it involves the child naming what he recognizes on the picture.
Step 1: Giving the name
Let’s say you work on the classified cards/vocabulary cards of the kitchen, you can ask the child what is on the key card (card on top which shows which category it is like the picture of a full kitchen). Ask the child about his own kitchen. Then, take a card and ask the child if he can name what is on it, ex: the toaster. You can acknowledge: yes, this is the toaster – and proceed to ask/discuss what we use it for and place the card(s) in front of the child in columns. If the child does not know it, name it yourself and place this cards in a special pile for later. This pile will be used for the 3-PERIOD LESSON.
Take one card, name it and place it in front of the child. Repeat with 2 more cards. “This is …, this is…, this …”. Then, 2nd period.
Step 2: ASK and PLAY
This phase is the one that will lead to memorization of the words. Ask the child to take, move, point to a certain card/object. Have fun with it ! They can just show you the card you are asking for at first and then, move it onto another one, they can give it to you and you move them around etc. Make sure at this stage, that you move the cards around so the child does not memorize it based on its place on the table. After quite a lot of this game, comes the 3rd period.
Step 3: The child names the object.
Place the 3 cards next to each other as they were placed originally during the 1st step and ask, one by one: “What’s this?” and let the child answer. If she remembers and names, move on to 3 more cards as long as the child is interested. If the child cannot remember one, then name it and continue. It can happen that the child won’t remember any of them, it usually means the 2nd period was not long enough for her to memorize or maybe this is a bad day and the child is tired. No pressure, you can try this every day if need be and as long as the child is interested and happy.
Another activity we start around this age is helping the child being familiar with sounds so we play sound GAMES. I emphasize the word game because it happens too often that the child refuses because it’s hard or they cannot figure it out and they don’t want to do it. I also want to say that even if we start this as young as 2-2,5, it is never too late to play this game to build phonemic awareness.
They can look different but here are 2 examples played quite often around Montessori schools and homes.
“What’s the first sound/the first sound we hear in …. (insert word that are familiar to the child) ?” At first, the child might not understand what you are talking about so you give play the game.
“The first sound in Mom is [m] (x2-3), Mom” as you model this, eventually the child will start understanding where you are going with this and will start identifying the first sound on words.
Keep it fun, it’s a game ! Use words of things you are eating, we love to play it during lunch and supper or in the car based on what we see by the window.
Once the child is at ease with first sounds, we move to last sounds and middle sounds.
Another version, to mix it up a little is “I spy with my little eye, a word that starts with … (insert sounds). There is also, getting objects from the home or classroom and find the first sound etc
USE SOUNDS not letter names – they are very different and can make the child very confused when it comes to start making words or reading later on. If you are not sure about this, please contact me on IG or FB and I’ll gladly record an example for you.
These are the main exercises to do for the first year of the child in a Casa environment (3-6 years old).
As the child become comfortable with sounds, we move on to SANDPAPER LETTERS which will add the physical letter with the sound. Take one, trace the letter with index and middle finger together as you finish the tracing, give the sound. Do it a few times then invite the child to do it too.
You can even take 3 sounds/letters and do a 3-period lesson with it.
I will stop there for details as this is already quite a lot to process. Just for spoilers, after sandpaper letters will follow Writing activity as in, Movable alphabet so the child can analyse what sound is in a word and find its letter in order to write a word. It’s so much fun ! Don’t expect the child to get there too early and fast, this happens closer to 4/4,5 even if of course, it depends on children – it can happen earlier or later.
I’ll talk more about it in a different post. Writing which will be followed by reading later on, are gradual exercises that take time.
Remember to be patient, to have fun and if you feel or the child feels any frustration, take a break and pick up later or another day, there is no rush at all.
Hello everybody, I am so glad I manage some time to write today. These past couple of months have been full of changes and new projects: there is a pandemic, people wear masks (and look scary a little), we can’t go shopping, we are alone with our child(ren) at home – sometimes with no idea what to do because, well… usually they are at school. Just check what applies to you and you might have anxiety on your hands.
Personnaly, after the anxiety of the début subsided, I started enjoying the REAL slow living of balancing new work with cooking (and trying new things in my kitchen), keeping up with housework and stay cool so my toddler understands there is something going on but that it does not have to be scary as long as we stay in and enjoy what we have. I even started knitting again and I have read several books!!!!! My big win is that I finally had time to put more thought and action into launching a course on well-being and parenting (exciting!!!).
how are you ? How is life treating you in these trying times ? How do you feel?
I would love to know because we are all in this and at times, I do feel overwhelmed and the mess in the kitchen gets to me and I am never quite sure what to start with in the morning. Do you feel like this too ?
Being a community and helping each other have been so important to us. Being kind and receiving love as well as giving even more than usual has been amazing! I think this situation is teaching us a few things in terms of friendship, love and connection.
So I just want to tell you that, I am here to listen, talk, help if I can because this is what we need right now.
I created a Facebook group called : Well-being with Adeline and I hope that we can connect through it with talking about how we can feel better even on bad days, even when we feel like nothing will ever go back to normal or we’re scared of what the new normal will be. We keep each other accountable for taking care of ourselves with little steps.
We are even doing a challenge, just for fun to try new things that could help us feel happier. If you want to get in, you are welcome, no pressure. We are just here to give you Love and feel like our happy self.
in Montessori Joy,