Language – follow up questions

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 ?

BUS is a CVC word with one consonant, one vowel and another consonant. From SPL to movable alphabet, we use different colours for consonant and vowels.

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.

Notice how she told me to write o instead of au for Paul. It’s normal, she does not know yet and there is no need for me to press this until she is ready for more complex sounds like phonograms.

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,

Adeline

Enjoying Fall season with toddlers

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:

Punching holes (leaf shapes) and pasting them on a piece of paper

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…).

Poking holes to tear the shape safely – amazing for fine motor work

Cooking :

-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.

Fall colours are not only for leaves outside but also for our plates.

Gross motor:

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 !

Climbing is a must.

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.

Our favourite book this autumn… and the most beautiful

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.

Enjoy !

In Montessori love,

Adeline

Our preparation for baby with Montessori education and minimalism in mind

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.

Alexis on day 2, on Mom. That’s all she needed.

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:

  • TOPPONCCINO – this baby size mat also called security pillow helps the baby to feel comfortable as they transition from arms to different arms or arms to sleep place etc It can also help some people who are not comfortable with holding (small) baby. We had one for Alexis and I wish we would have had a 2nd one (when there were pee leaks) so this time around I am prepared – I am getting another one from the same company so it feels the same for baby. I always choose organic cotton. You can also make it if you have the talent and time.
  • Sleep sack – even if not mandatory, it is safer than a blanket for babies under 1 year old. It keeps baby warm for the season and still allows for movement – I am a big defender of baby’s needs to move.
  • Floor bed – we do start with a bassinet in our bedroom at first so I can recover and pick up baby easily. After a month or so, baby will start napping on the floor bed. We use an organic cotton crib mattress simply placed on the floor in a child friendly bedroom. It worked great for Alexis, she transitioned to also sleep there at night by 5 months. I do know she was ready before that but my mom’s heart liked having her close. I can say by observation of my child, that she would have been sleeping even better (less noise from snoring and movement) if I had moved her to her bedroom and her floor bed around 4 months at the first sign of sleep regression. I have learnt from it.
Alexis’ floor bed (with her topponccino on top – she used it for so long and loved it). The stuffies on her bed were not allowed there when she was sleeping until she was big enough to move things around by herself and could roam around (safety first). The material on her shelves are the ones she was using at around 5 months.
  • You can use a changing table if you like, we had one, we hardly used it as it is not safe as soon as baby wants to turn. Our first baby wiggled and turned accidentally at 10 days. So, this was a big expense and a big piece of furniture for nothing, we sold it and changed her on a changing pad wherever we needed to change her. This time, no changing table ! We have tables, beds, floors that are great for us to change the baby and I feel good about having less furniture around.
  • After a few days / couple of weeks sometimes, baby will be ready to explore more than our faces so we make sure that we have a place or 2 dedicated for her/him called a movement area. We used a rug with a blanket on top (you can wash it as much as you want + topponccino if need be) and we would use a black and white book and/or cards for Alexis to watch (no need for crazy colours or crazy things to look at, your baby can only see contrast such as black and white). I am preparing the Munari mobile for this phase.

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 !

With love,

Adeline

What language activities to do with your toddler ?

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.

3-PERIOD LESSON

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.

SOUND GAMES

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).

This was A practicing her sandpaper letters for the first sounds of these objects in French.

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.

Movable alphabet

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.

How are you ? (2) Let’s do a check up on how you feel.

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 ? Checking in on your well-being.

Dear friends,

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,

Adeline

 

How our family’s health is in our plate !

This is a subject I am passionate about since I was trying to get pregnant in 2016 : FOOD.

We think we know about food and what we put in and on our body but really… most people have no idea. It’s nobody’s fault. Things changed fast in terms of laws, policies, crops growing, GMO, pesticides… What about our health in all that ?

According to Orrechio and Buckley in their book How to conceive naturally and have a healthy pregnancy after 30, when GMO food spread all over The United States in the 90s, so did the amount of infertility in what seemed to be a healthy population otherwise. To me, this is quite concerning.

I am from France and I now live in Canada where laws about food are definitely more strict in terms of Genetically Modified food and such. But what about pesticides, treatments applied to crops so they survive diseases? We are all concerned by these issues, unless you grow everything in your backyard and reuse your own seeds of course. I am honestly tempted to do so, unfortunately, I also run a couple of businesses and have a family so I do garden in the summer but not as much as I would like. I can’t do it all ! Reality check of parenthood. 🙂

That being said, there are people who do studies for us, people who are passionate and experts in this field, FOOD.

The book I talked about earlier is great in terms of helping us understand what is good for us and what can/could be a source of health issues/conceiving problems. They also provide a 12-week meal plan and grocery lists so you can be in optimum health for conceiving or during your pregnancy. I personally use some of these recipes on a weekly/biweekly basis. We love it.

My message for you today is about health for the whole family. Personally, as the grocery shopper/ cook of the household, this is technically in my hands to make these choices for me, my husband, my daughter and also the students of my school – yes I cook for them and I do my best but sometimes I feel like this will never be enough.

Through what I learnt from these experts and my also expert dietitian, I try to apply what I know and understand, to my grocery list and my cooking. It seems like a mundane issue but what goes into your body and on your body influences your energy level, your hormones and ability to reproduce, sleep, be functional at work or with your family. What you put in and on your body will also influence your baby, then toddler, child, growing teenager etc ! No Pressure !!! It’s not just about moms, what your partner eats also influences their energy, fertility, genetic etc so… it impacts your children doubly.

Isn’t it insane that we know so little about what makes a difference in our everyday life ?

My advice, after 4 years of my own research and work with food professionals, is to not trust what is on your plate unless you know where it is from and what is the best way to eat it for an efficient way of feeding yourself. Some of my takeaways are:

  • look into the dirty dozen and avoid these if they are non-organic (Canada might have more laws about food than some of our North American neighbors but a lot of  the food in our stores are from these countries anyway).
  • go for check-up at the doctors and naturopaths in terms blood work, thyroid panel and such, they can be life savers.
  • eating more alkaline food can make a huge difference – my energy level has gone way up since I know about it.
  • Fat is not evil if it is good fat (I can justify my cheese and oil intake)
  • watch for allergies – you might not even know about it but some food trigger your system for the worse.
  • food gudie 2019
    Canadian Food Guideline plate.
  • Balancing your plate by following the Canadian (new) food guidelines – no joke, with the precious advice of a professional, I have lost 16 pounds/8 kgs in 4 months. These guidelines are here for a reason and this one (they finally reviewed it in 2019) is making sense.
  • Carbs are not only bread and pasta so you can eat carbs without being constantly on wheat. Take it seriously, I am French so my need for bread is high.
  • What you put on your body (products from soap to make-up…) matters as well. There are ingredients to avoid like the plague (the book above gives you all the details)

Now, don’t panic, breathe. What I have also learnt from these sources is that unless it comes to an allergy that you need to avoid for safety, you can apply the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time is following these rules of balance and 20% we can indulge because… life happens and it is fun!

You can do this. Do not change everything all at once. One thing at a time. I am here with you, accompanying you through this part of parenting as well.

I hope this can help you be a better version of you, a healthier, more energetic person, worker and parent.

With parenting love,

Adeline

 

A new year. A new decade. A new parent.

Hello dear parents and caregivers,

I want to wish you a happy New Year !!! 2020 is the beginning of a new year but also the beginning of a new decade, we have entered the 20’s.

Each beginning of year I get my new planner and I am always excited about it. I review my old planner, reflect on what happened and get closure so I can move on to the next year. I love my passion planner.

I review things about me, my family, my work. And then what… ?

I set my fresh new goals for the new year. I love this part. It is like changing year gives you a fresh start. It might just be in our mind only but what matters is that we reflect on what we want for ourselves, our family, our work, our passions…

Once I have decided on my goals, I think about how I will reach them. For this, I set intentions – the how will I get to succeed at what I want.

planner
My passion planner 2020. I chose a vibrant yellow to brighten the year.

Once I have my intentions, I organize baby steps to make sure I don’t overwhelm myself with it all. Honestly, it works. Thanks to my planner, I get to review each month, what happened and how I can set, reset, new goals, new intentions to get to what I want. I am allowed to change them or keep pushing myself towards the ones I have set in the first place.

For this new year, I wish you to be able to parent with intention and take care of yourself. Remember we talked about this in 2019 (article here).

That’s my goal and I have started working on it by taking a calm and confidence challenge organized by the mindful mama mentor. I love it. It’s simple and efficient.

What are your goals and intentions for this new year ?  

Remember, if you need help with all this parenting thing, I can help. 🙂  

Christmas and care of self

It could sound like I am going to talk about Practical Life activities but I want to talk about taking care of our self.

It is Christmas, it should be about love, compassion, generosity. I see a lot of this out there. However, I also see a lot of overscheduled families, stressed moms, overwhelmed dads who are running around stores and streets in search of the perfect present for the people they love or for getting the ingredients needed for this big meal prepared for guests.

I understand, I have seen it, I have been there too but at some point, I made the choice to say no. I love Christmas, the lights, the baking, the time off to be with the ones you love.

When we go to our families (France or Canada) we end up traveling so it has its challenges but once there, I refuse to overschedule, if people want to see us they come to us at our parents’ house (I did 5000 kms to be there already). I make sure I help my mom with preparations but we do share tasks for Christmas, nobody is loaded with the burden of doing it all for almost 20 people. It took a few years to figure this out but now it feels better. Everybody can enjoy it.

When we stay home with no family around, then it is about self care, love, family (just ours) and friends. If people are available, great, if not, we will be under our blanket sipping on champagne and reading books with our little one. There will be some family calls and presents opening and great food but I won’t stress over it. I refuse to stress over it. I also always make sure I read a book over the Christmas break, it’s my time to just relax and also enjoy a puzzle (tradition brought by my in-laws).

Rosalie goute

 

Your children, they need connection – board games, books read with you, sliding outside in the snow. They can help, they can chop, spread, pour, set up tables – and quite young I’d say. Remember modelling self care is important, remind yourself that they are part of the family so helping and having fun together chopping veggies and tasting recipes while singing Christmas songs really loud is part of the fun.

 

 

alex et moiSo my message is ENJOY. THE. CHAOS. and ENJOY. THE.FUN. 

Enjoy the Love. Together.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

A Christmas list for 1 to 2 year olds.

If you go back to my post from last year and the list of Montessori friendly toys for 1 yo and under, you can still find activities, such as stacking rings or nesting boxes that are still going to be used and loved by your little one.

I am going to focus on our 2nd year of Montessori friendly toys and activities. Some are toys and others and more specifically Montessori materials you would see in a toddler class. I am not going to talk about specific practical life activities as I already had a post about it that you can always go back to.

This is just a list of ideas for your child as Christmas is coming!!!! It can be practical to have this for you or for family members in order to keep the toys Montessori friendly.

 

Schleich animals – great quality and very realistic (even if made of plastic, they are durable and soooo realistic I love them).

2 period lesson
Schleich animals paired with pictures – 16 months

Beads and lace – start with large ones so it is easier for the child to master before moving on to smaller ones (wait until the oral stage has passed for small ones).

Hole/Shape puncher – for crafts to strengthen the hands and fingers and make cool shapes in paper. They can always past them on paper as well. So a glue stick is handy as well.

Stickers – always a win !!! useful as soon as your child has enough fine motor abilities for it. We started around 16 months with stickers easy to peel.

Paint – watercolour or tempera – you can add an easel and cut the legs shorter so your young toddler can use it right away.

Blocks – wooden to build as much as they want. We love our set from Melissa and Doug. It’s being used a lot even by children over 3 year olds. You cannot go wrong with a set of blocks.

Imbucare box or shape sorter is also great during this year and over 2 as well.

Peg and board – ours is being used since before 1 for pegging only and then to add the beads on top and finally around 2 yo to associate colours. I LOVE IT !!!

Nesting dolls. – We love our Russian dolls but we also have another set with owls on them and she loves them.

Stacking rings cannot go out of style, now your child can stack and will slowly grade them in order.

Puzzles – start with one shape with one hole and them move on to 3 and to harder puzzles of familiar aspects of life such as transportation, animals, fruits. For this year they will need puzzles with knobs.

shape puzzle

Screwdriver block – she started using it after 18 months.

Dressing frames – amazing for care of self and fine motor.

dressing framevelcro
Velcro dressing frame

 

 

 

 

 

GROSS MOTOR

Stepping stones – to climb, balance and jump

Wobble board – ours is called kimboo board because it has been made in Quebec by Kimboo – she uses it as a balance boars and a climbing device and a slide.

Wagon – ours is loved and used by children of all ages.

 

And to finish BOOKS – with and without words. Focus on quality books with realistic pictures or drawings. At this age we stay away from fantasy that makes young children confused and sometimes scared. Remember their life is anchored in reality even when their imagination takes off, it is based on the reality we give them.

Remember that activities to do TOGETHER AS A FAMILY is also a great present. Being outside with loved ones is so important at this age as well.

 

This is a non exhaustive list and this is what worked for us and our daughter in the past year.

I hope you enjoy making your Christmas list. We are getting close to this time of year. Merry end of fall time of year !