Nutrition – the new Canadian guidelines

Hello everybody,

this is a different and less Montessori related post than usually. However, I thought it was important to mention that our Canadian food guidelines have changed and they DID CHANGE.

We used to see 4 food groups (vegetables and fruits, grain products, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives) and with that a very detailed plan of what you should eat everyday and how many portions of each. Early childhood establishments (daycares, preschools and schools) had to follow these guidelines per law request. This ended up, in my opinion, in a lot of personal interpretations and since children were to eat several portions of each group every day, the cheap and easy solution was to offer children crackers and a lot of cheese and milk and it was fine since it was always accompanied by a fruit or a vegetable.

Personally, I think crackers are tasty but have you looked at the ingredients and the amount of fat and everything it has in it… this is not healthy for a child (or us I guess as well).

The new guidelines are out and we now have 3 food groups (vegetables and fruits, protein food and whole grain food) and no portion only this:

food gudie 2019

As guidelines it says:

  • Have plenty of vegetables and fruits (left part of the plate)
  • Eat protein foods (top right part of the plate)
  • Choose while grain food (bottom right part of the plate)
  • Make water your drink of choice

 

It seems easier and healthier to me. It also has some tips and recipes to help, like before with the older guidelines. I cannot wait to look into it a little more. So far, I like the ” cook more often” to avoid ‘prepared food’ full of preservatives and other things we don’t always understand.

I can hear parents say they do not have time to cook… When you are a working parent or even at home with your child(ren) all day, it is difficult!!!

My trick is to MEAL PLAN, every weekend and it guides my grocery list, then I order online for pick up so I don’t have to spend a long time in the store and get tempted by food we don’t need or that would be unhealthy temptations. Then I block some time (usually nap times) to cook my heart out, I love my slow cooker, instant pot and other useful appliances that makes it easier for my busy mommy/teacher life.

I would love to know what you think about these changes.

Is it going to help you make good choices for your child(ren) ? 

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Language with young toddler: the Montessori 2-period lesson

You might have heard about the 3-period lesson used in Language lessons in Montessori classroom for age 3-6 years old. This is how we present and enrich vocabulary in Casa level classroom.

With young toddlers who are not verbal yet or not fully verbal, Montessori toddler teachers in Nido use the 2-period lesson. This way we can present the vocabulary and also verify their comprehension and knowledge.

Period 1: We present the objects (for young toddlers) or picture cards (for older toddlers) by naming what it is as we show them the object or card: “This is a …” and do so for about 3 objects or cards at a time (never more than that or it would be too much for the child at once).

Period 2: Now the child is active. you will ask him to ‘perform’ actions towards the objects or cards. “Point to …, show me …, give me …, place … next to …”. Some use the ‘I spy’ game for period 2 “I spy with my little eye a …” and the child point at it or give it to you etc This phase needs to be a little longer if the child seems up for it. Move the objects or cards around for adding challenge and making sure the child is not remembering names of the objects based on their position on the table.

FOR NON VERBAL TODDLERS the lesson stops there. If there a big success with the 2 first objects and she recognizes them all and seems into it, please continue with 3 more. If not, encourage the child to put the objects back to the shelf and move on. You can always go back to it at another time another day. This is not a quiz, just a way tot each your child some vocabulary.

2 period lesson
Our daughter at 17 months learning about arctic animals (a polar bear, a emperor penguin and a seal). We used objects first and then she found the cards in the basket to match objects and cards. FUN!!

Period 3: Now is the time for a verbal child to name the objects/objects on cards. You place the objects/cards back in their original order and ask: “What’s this?” If she can name it in order, you can always do it again with the objects in a different position.

 

This is used in all Montessori classrooms I have observed or worked at, it is a lesson taught to Montessori teachers in the Language area and this part is easily applicable at home with your child.

Remember, you are doing it to bring vocabulary in a structured but interesting manner, this is not to drill the child. If the child is not interested and seems tired, put the cards back on the shelf and move on to something else. Keep it casual for more interest from your little one.

Aside of a formal lesson like this, we also have image books that our daughter loves to look at and loves that we just name each object on each page. At first, she just looked and is now repeating a lot of these words. We keep it casual and follow her lead. It is naturally bringing a lot of vocabulary as well.

What do you do to bring in more vocabulary to your child at home? 

If you have any question, feel free to contact me.

Activities on our shelves – Christmas

A quick post before Christmas as I read a lot of posts and comments on social media about how stressful it is to have your little ones at home 24/7 for the Holidays.

Here are suggestions that can work for young and older toddlers:

  • Christmas vocabulary cards
  • Christmas themed home made puzzle
  • Poking activity with simple Christmas shapes
  • Red and green playdough and have fun with Christmas cookie cutters
  • Bake: cookies, muffins
  • Washing vegetables (and chop for older toddlers) to help with the Holiday cooking – you can use this type of brush
  • and I also encourage to make special beverages that taste Christmassy – peppermint EVERYTHING !
  • Felt tree to decorate and redecorate with felt ornaments.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas to all and to all happy holidays from my family to yours.

How we operate with food and our toddler(s)

Hello everyone !

I was thinking the other day about how stressful the holidays can be for parents trying to have their children eat at the table on Christmas day. As I was reflecting on what I have seen – myself as a child, my nephews and nieces, cousins… well, everybody has their own way of dealing with food, from: “You need to finish what is on your plate before dessert” to “of course sweetie, you can eat all the cookies and non of the meat on your plate!”.

We fall somewhere in the middle, in a Montessori way to respect our child(ren) but also teach them to eat.

I am writing this article thinking about our young toddler aged 16 months but also about the toddlers we used to care for in BC and many other older toddlers I have seen and taught in the past years and still now.

For babies, we use Baby-Led-Weaning which can almost translate into Division of Responsibility when they grow older.

To sum up what you can see on the link I dropped above, this is what DOR (Division Of Responsibility) is:

The adult is responsible for What, When and Where to eat.

The child is responsible for How Much or whether she eats – you have to trust your child will eat what she needs until she is not hungry. If she chooses not to eat, we don’t make a big deal. She will eat eventually.

We provide a variety of food from each group and trust the child to eat a variety over time.

lily cooking
Cooking with a lovely 16 month old student. She was involved in making healthy pancakes.

To help getting there we also make snack and meal time an occasion for fun (i.e. make the table beautiful with flower arrangements, centre piece made by the child, a occasion for the child to participate (i.e cooking together, harvesting our own veggies…) and we try – to the best of our busy life ability- to make meals on the same schedule everyday.

So far, I have to say it has been working, I do not worry about what they eat as long as they eat something at some point.

I do not offer sweets or salty snacks that would be unhealthy as some of them could only choose that and let’s be realistic they do not need it.

Snacks are made of at least on fruit or veggie along side another food from another food group such as cheese/yogurt… or a piece of bread or a homemade muffin.

I hope this can help ease the holiday meal time – even if this is one full of sweets !

If you have any questions or need some help or advice, feel free to ask in the comments.

Have fun cooking to prepare some fun Holiday meals and snacks!

 

PS: Here are links to our dishes used for babies and that we still use for our toddler and also the dishes we use for our preschool students and our girl.

plate with succion cup to hold it in place on the table and also the bowl. These are awesome quality and come with a spoon made as the plates and bowls of bamboo and silicone.

-I also found these bowls at a cheaper price but I am not sure about the quality of the products as they are made of plastic – we do avoid plastic for environmental reasons ourselves but I know plastic is sometimes hard to get away from.

-If you are ready for using breakables that are however very solid, use the set from IKEA. 

 

This article has affiliate links at no cost to you. 

Montessori Christmas reading list for parents :)

As I was writing the last posts about Montessori friendly toys for babies, I realised that I should also write about the books I find useful for parents interested in Montessori or a Montessori approach to raising your child(ren).

Here are some of my favourites by Maria Montessori herself:

The Absorbent Mind – this is one of the latest books she wrote before she died in 1952, it is the easiest read to understand her philosophy of education.

The Child in the Family – I read this one while pumping milk during my training morning breaks. It is an easy read, a very interesting one to see the child through Montessori’s eyes. It is a good reminder of who the child should be in our family, its own person and not only what we want her to be.

 

Other books I like not about Montessori education:

  • The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies, AMI Montessori toddler teacher in the Netherlands – she is a treasure of experience and information. This book can also help you set things up in your house for your child.
simone book
Simone Davies is such an inspiration you can follow her on the Montessori Notebook.

Other books Montessori approved:

aubrey book
Aubrey also wrote a book  called Babies First years Milestones.
  • Oh crap ! Potty training by Jamie Glowacki – this vision of potty training is what some Montessori parents apply with their children. Seeing this phase as a learning and a natural process without rewards or punishments. The author is a very entertaining, experienced educator helping parents around her.

 

I could go on and on but I chose to give you what is for me the simplest books to understand Montessori and to help parents raising their child in a respectful ways incorporating positive discipline and respectful parenting. I hope you will like it as much as I did.

My goal is to read even more in 2019 !!!! What about you ?

Our first year of toys (2) – Christmas shopping list

As I get deeper into Christmas decorations and activities with the children, I am more and more excited about the family time we will spend together as my niece is coming to spend the end of the year with us in our new home.

xmas board
Our Chrismas welcome board in the cloakroom, decorated by the students with star stickers !!!

As promised, here is the list of the material our daughter and her friends used from about 6 months until they turned 1 year old and over. Enjoy !!

Stacking rings made of wood, I love it and so did the children, we still get some use out of it and she is 15 months. I would also consider the one that rocks to add some challenge to it.

Nesting, stacking bowls – can be used over and over for different purposes.

We also had and still have a basket with different everyday life container to open such as a little container with lid, a little bottle with a screw lid,  mini money purse with different types of opening (zipper…)

Any types of wooden blocks work, we got ours from an Etsy shop such as this one.

Play silks and other types of fabric that are really sensorial for the babies. Here is a version a little less expensive though I don’t know what they are worth in quality.

Pots and pans – that was a big hit and you can use it to mix food in it.

We also added closer to one year old the velcro dressing frame, however our daughter started using it before 12 months for sure.  Ours was a little different but it is not being made anymore. This one seems like a close one.

I would advise to never underestimate the power of a table and chairs at the children size such as this one. We also love the IKEA versions: cheap but won’t last forever LATT or the SUNDVIK table and chair a lot more sturdy.

Last but not least a coordination mirror – best thing ever. They loooved it and for a long time.

If you have any question and you want to know more about what our daughter and friends used in our environment – please feel free to ask questions.

 

Have some merry fun !!!

 

Our first year of toys (1) – Christmas shopping list

Hello everybody,

I am in Christmas mode today as the first snow hit Halifax. We got out for a walk in the snow and it was delightful though my daughter does not understand what the big fuss is about yet.

With Christmas spirit comes the baking and reminiscing about our last year with our daughter and the baby students we had back on the West coast.

So I though I would put together a list of the toys, material that were a big hit from birth until one year old. It might help some of you gather nice things for a baby you have at home or love outside of home.

From 0 to 6 months:

The first thing I used was this black and white book. You can also use a Munari mobile.

black and white book

 

There are also nice sets of Montessori material for babies and we got ours from Etsy or a local Montessori company in BC Canada (http://www.beginningmontessori.com/five-pack/).

baby toys
Our 3 month old baby with 2 of the toys you can find in sets of Montessori toys.

You can also find alternatives in wooden toy store or on the Internet.

As you go you can use all the different Montessori mobile as you mix and match with the grabbing toys:

 

Here are some of the toys I did not get for Alexis but I would have liked. I got them for other babies around me since then like the colourful bead grasper or its natural alternative.

After a while, some of these toys would be used as teether of course and we found other alternatives so her senses could be enhanced:

  • teether ball from the sensory balls
  • A wooden teething ring
  • a silicone teething ring that she also eventually used as a bracelet
  • someone offered us one like this one that was going into the freezer, it was a big hit for her when she was hurt, but always make sure there is no leak and that they are safe to use prior to give to baby and after each time you wash it.
  • last but not least our famous French Sophie la girafe.
sophie la girafe
4 months old baby and her giraffe.

 

I was looking at our last Christmas pictures and what she had on her blanket on the floor was pretty much a bunch of these teethers including the interlocking disks and always a few board books, never forget books.

I will come back soon with what worked for us from 6 to 12 months.

Have fun shopping for these little ones !

It’s still Autumn !

Hello everybody !

As much as I want it to be Christmas already, I realize that we are still in a Fall mood, weather is cooling down, the leaves are still falling making the ground beautiful with warm colours. I LOVE FALL !

As we are more settled in our new home and as we are welcoming a new student in our home preschool, we still have some Autumn fun !

girls in fall leaves
Playing in the leaves !!!

Today, I took the girls out for a little outing and we ended up spending quite some time in the garden, raking leaves (best Fall practical Life activity ever !) and playing in the leaves we had raked in big inviting piles!

It’s not a matter of age, I had fun, my young toddler had fun and our new girl student also had fun ! It was so beautiful and nice! This was enough exercise to all be hungry for lunch!

fall poking
Art activity: Poking !

Right before nap time, our student and I had time to do some drawing and poking. I love poking as an art activity because it refines fine motor and is an alternative to scissors to cut shapes.

We will enjoy the last days of coloured leaves falling on the ground and will welcome Christmas time with open arms.

 

I hope you will as well ! ? 

 

Taking care of the adults as well

Hello everybody!

This is by a nice day that I write to you from our new home and province of Canada. We are still unpacking and figuring out where things will go but we are starting to see how our new home will turn out.

daddy daughter
New life in a (not so new) city where our toddler can safely walk with Daddy.

There are rooms that are quite ready: our daughter’s room (floor bed, child-size wardrobe, as well as table and chair), the soon-to-be Primary classroom, bathroom and the kitchen. THE ESSENTIALS to our family. The rest has what we need with no extras. We are aspiring to more minimalism without necessarily be what I would call minimalist (yet… something to aspire to).

 

In the past week, our daughter has been going through a lot of milestones (not the one you see in parenting books) and is hitting a growing spurt so it has been a lot about the child of the house and her constant need for food and sleep. 🙂 It is quite fun even if it is challenging to keep your own life under control.

So I am trying to keep the cool Montessori mom attitude on but let’s be realistic, I am exhausted!!! We went through a biiiig move and it is a big transition for everybody including the adults. We are more than happy to be back in a place where we have friends and we feel the love, however, we are also trying to re-establish a business and a family life.

You are going to ask where I am going with this post… well.. I am calling for parents to be gentle with themselves. I am often quite harsh on things that should not be done to, with or in front of children, I despise the use of technology as a distraction for young children etc etc BUT I do think that to be the best parent we can be, we need to take care of ourselves. So this is my call for Montessori parents (and all parents really) to take the time to breathe, shower, read, meditate, exercise – all of them or even just one can make a big difference.
Why ? Because to be able to take care of children all day everyday, we need to be ourselves and be our best version. My Montessori trainer was saying that even if you are sick and you need to be with children, then you will be the best version of what you have to give that day even if it is not as good as it was the day before. You try !

To me, it means, planning things in my passion planner and take the time to fill my 5 minute journal with good thoughts, go for a walk with my family and meditate. It feels good, it helps recharge and keeps me sane and patient when things don’t go according to plan.

I have an anecdote for you: I have set up a tray with 2 jugs for my 15 months old daughter to start pouring water as she loooves water. Well, as she sees me pouring from jugs to glass regularly, she has changed my plan and decided that this tray deserves her cup on it (see picture).

pouringtray
It started with 2 jugs and our daughter added her cup to it.

I let go of it because this is what makes sense to her so I step back, observe and realize that she wants to use the jug to pour water when she wants to drink (“boi, boi” – which means boire/drink in French). So now the tray has changed to one jug and her cup and she also has another jug and another cup ready in her kitchen drawer in case things get dirty during the day. IT IS OK !!! The plan changed but for the best so I am a happy parent with a happy toddler who is learning how to pour water.

SO please parent, be happy, enjoy some YOU TIME to be able to enjoy some family time.

Let me know how this goes!

 

Power of being together

Hello everybody  and Happy Thanksgiving !

I have been away from the website for the past few weeks as we were/are busy relocating our life (and business) to another province of Canada. My husband drove with some of our belongings from Vancouver to Nova Scotia as our daughter and myself would spend about 10 days in Alberta in my husband’s family.

As a Montessori parent, I focused a lot on making sure I could ease this transition for our toddler. She has been wonderful even if she did not like the change. Her sense of order is definitely shaken off and Dad was not around for over a week. This has been hard ! However, by making sure the routine of the day is about the same and placing some of her material around the in-laws’ house, we survived.

One big thing this transition is teaching me is: I LOVE spending time with my daughter one on one even more than I thought! We are taking the time to stare at each other’s eyes and laugh, we sit in the grass at the park and just listen, feel the wind and respect each other’s need for peace and quiet. It has been great!

peace and quiet in AB
Watching at my daughter being present and enjoying peace and calm.

Don’t get me wrong, we are both ready for the new house and to meet Dad at the airport tomorrow but this time together in a different place made us even closer so we could remain strong in this time of change.

My husband, as a wonderful Montessori parent is already in the new place and the priority is: making our daughter ‘s bedroom so she can see she has her space and she can be in a place made for her. We purged a looot for this move and I think are evolving towards more minimalism but for the sake of my toddler’s sense of order, we kept her bed, child-size wardrobe, chest and chair – by respect for what she likes and knows.

We are lucky… we are happy… we will be reunited soon and we can all be thankful !

I will be back soon with more Montessori and parenting articles when we are unpacked. In the meantime, take the time to gaze at your beautiful children’s eyes and see how much they love you, they are thankful for YOU!