I am a toddler

This week’s post is a little different. I have been thinking about it for a long time. 

As I think about the toddler of 2.5 years old plus in my care or the ones I taught before here or in France, as observe my daughter (almost 2 years old) going through life, good and hard moments, I imagine what they are going through and what they can be thinking or what they would like us to know and understand. This little voice in my head resonates every time my daughter or a student says no and sit on the floor with tears of desperation. It’s a good exercise for us, adults, to do. Observe and imagine what they would be saying if they could.

” I am a toddler, I am not a baby. I can do things by myself, I want to do by myself, I want you to help me but I don’t want you help me like an adult. Adults are stressful and stressed, I feel it, they go up and down stairs really fast but they don’t seem to think it’s fun. They always need me to go fast and it’s not fun. If I don’t go fast enough, they seem angry, I don’t understand why. Then they push me harder to do things quick quick quick! If I don’t, they do it for me and it makes me upset, because, I know how to do it but I have my own pace, I am a person, my own person.

I like making decisions for myself (and sometimes for other people as well). I like order and predictability, it keep me grounded and less scared. When things change all the time – adults always have a good reason for it- I feel scared, insecure and I can’t really say it, sometimes, nobody listens to me so I CRY and I SCREAM.

My emotions are explosive and I can’t calm down – not yet, give me time. Sometimes I need space. Sometimes I need a presence and a hug. I need my guides in life to know I am full of love and curiosity and I just want to connect with them to understand this world I have been thrown in.

I don’t want to put my coat on to go outside because I am focused on something else right now. I don’t want to stop jumping in puddles because it’s fun and I live right in the moment.

I sit, throw myself, lie down and scream and cry because nobody seems to understand – maybe they forgot how it was for them – that being a toddler is hard.

I want to do it on my own. I want to wear my green shirt today. I want to put my shoes on even if we are late, I don’t mind if we are late, I’m here to learn, I’m here to love and be loved so I can grow confident and resilient.

Let’s try to live slower and happier for our family’s sake and our growing children’s sake. Remember, if you think a situation is hard on you, then it’s even harder for your toddler. 


Montessori Home 2 (Practical Life activities)

I am back with some tips for a Montessori Home. This time we will talk about Practical Life activities.

What is Practical Life and why do children need it? you might wonder.

This area of work is the first one in a Montessori classroom, the first one to be shown and also the one that children seem to seek naturally. This is one we can make happen easily in our home life.

Work from Practical Life assists the development of the whole being, physical, mental and moral and its different types of activities help developing the child as a whole.

It involves a ‘practical’ aspect since the activities are activities from daily life i .e dusting, washing, carrying and so on. However, « their aim is not a practical one. Emphasis should be laid not on the word ‘practical’ but the word ‘life’ ». Maria Montessori

It is going to help for the integration of the human personality through meaningful purposeful work. It is also about achieving practical skills.

Here are the purposes behind Practical Life activities:

Orientation and adaptation : the child needs activities to make sense and help him adapt to his surroundings, the social habits of his environment and so on.  In order to attain that, the child needs to be able to find some consistency in his surroundings, he needs habits, things that will not change in order to fulfill his inner need for order. Later on, thanks to this environment he can count on, he will develop an ability to abstract and adapt to change.

Control of movement: Through Practical life activities, the child works towards mastery of movement (both gross motor and fine motor skills are developed) in order to attain certain goals i.e. carrying a tray without anything falling from it, pouring water without dropping any on the table, moving his chair without noise. These practices of control of movement and being able to handle fragile objects leads the child to self-esteem and dignity. Knowing you can control your self in a real life setting, realizing you can adapt to your environment and master this one gives a high sense of satisfaction to the child. The body serves the mind and vice and versa.

Development of independence: The child should be using his own willpower and acquire his own physical independence, he has to learn how to be self-sufficient and he will do it through some of these activities. The adult need to leave the child able to work with no interruption, so he can create his independence. This independence is not only a physical or even material one but also a intellectual, spiritual independence. As Maria Montessori said:

« We have to help the child act, will and think for himself ».

 As Kahlil Gibran says in his poem On Children, « they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself[…] you may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts ». This resonates with me as how to see the children, my own, or the one I guide through their path of learning and becoming the adults of tomorrow.

Development of concentration: Concentration happens only if the human being can focus on a task and maintain this focus over time to the point of concentration. First, to get to concentrate on an activity, this one needs to attract us, hence the beautiful material prepared by the adult. This beauty and attractive material will create an interest needed to focus on a task. It helps keeping the attention on this work and concentrate.                Will is showing in choice of activity. It has to come from the child, therefore, it is important to respect the child’s freedom to choose his activity. If he is not willing to work/play with something, then he will not be able to focus and then concentrate on this activity. 

AND NOW FOR SOME IDEAS OF PRACTICAL LIFE ACTIVITIES you can have in your home!!! List non-exhaustive, I give more to the families I work with over time.

unloading dishes
Unloading the dishwasher – 16 months old

3 places I find are great for practical life work are :

the kitchen: washing hands at the sink (provide a learning tower or step stool, depending on the age of your child), pouring their own drink (glass and water should be ready for them on a shelf), setting up the table (it can start as early as they can walk, they love helping), transferring anything to a bowl – for the sake of it sometimes or to help with preparing a meal. I also like to have a sponging activity so they can transfer water from one bowl to another via the sponge (cut for the size of their hands), it is a great strengthening activity for the hand and it’s fun. Sweeping is a must and it can be done anywhere in the house. Washing the dishes or loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning, wiping the table and chairs, washing fruits and veggies (there is special brushes for these), slicing a banana, opening individual cheese, transferring anything with a spoon… the list goes on and on.

learning tower

Our daughter at 11 months standing in/on her learning tower.

COOKING is also a fun activity ! Prepare things measured up first and they can do the rest and mix it up.

cooking prep
prepare ingredients first for young toddlers
slicing a banana
Slicing a banana


The bathroom and laundry room: washing hands at the sink (again a step stool or tower will help or have a station ready with a pitcher of water for them to fill a big bowl where they can wash their hands + soap it’s so much fun once they are past the oral stage), brushing their teeth (have a station next to the washing hands station for a cup with toothpaste and toothbrush ready to go), transferring laundry from basket to machine and vice and versa, matching socks, folding clothes…

Outside: watering the plants and garden, sweeping the patio, raking leaves, using a shovel (their size) to make a hole in order to plant seedlings and seeds, carrying wood, branches, shoveling snow…

A small rake goes a long way in the fall !



  • tearing paper (page from an old newspapers or ads)
  • dusting
  • mopping
  • cleaning windows
  • make the bed
  • opening, closing containers (can start very early before they stand up)
  • nuts and bolts
  • locks and keys (can be done early id you tie the key to the lock)
  • pouring grain, water
  • using scissors
  • painting

If you have any questions about how to set up the activities, don’t hesitate to ask!

The Child in the Family

The title “The Child in the Family” is the title of one of my favourite books from Maria Montessori. Today I would like to share some important aspects people tend to forget about children. All quote are from this book.

1- Babies should not adapt to our needs as newborns. We should be there for them and HELP them be comfortable so they can adapt to this bright, noisy world we live in. We, as adults, are not more important than our babies. We need to adapt to each other in a respectful way with all the love we have.

Let’s remember being a baby is tough:

At birth, he is ejected from this home {the mother’s womb} to live in the air. […] he is pushed from perfect repose to the exhausting world of being born.

So we can make it welcoming for the new baby to arrive in our world:

The newborn child must become the object of knowledgeable care. Even holding him requires the utmost gentleness […] tenderness. […] That graceful little being, whom we overwhelm with material things and who is almost like a toy to us, must inspire reverence in us.

2- Let’s not forget about Sensitive period and Human tendencies. There is one thing we tend to forget when our child is young, she does not like change !! So if you feel overwhelmed by this child’s obsession to see things in the same place. Read my posts (above) about it and feel free to email me to ask questions. I might be able to help.

The child has a positive need to see objects always in their accustomed places and used for their customary purposes. If anyone disturbs this familiar order, the child is deeply offended.

3- My third point today is about what we call misbehaviour.  You feel like your child does not obey, takes forever to comply etc etc   I get it, it is frustrating and sometimes infuriating. However, your child is actually not doing this to bother you. If you are having a hard time with tantrums and what people call misbehaviour from your child, the chance is high that your child is the one suffering from it in the first place, so we need to be the adult and HELP OUR CHILD.

We do not understand children’s acts for themselves and instead continue to see them as forms of misbehaviour.”

This last part is to illustrate my point about how positive discipline is a great tool to see these behaviours in a new informed light and can help you find tips to overcome them or at least help you (and your child by the same occasion) see it as it is, through knowledge about child’s development.

My advice is to go to your library and pick up one of Jane Nelsen’s book on positive discipline. If you feel like it’s never available (very popular these days) or you do not have much time to read, message me for help.

After all, it takes a village to be a parent. 

What do you know about Positive Discipline ? Do you apply any tools from it ? YOu might be and not even know about it !!!

Montessori home (Clutter or not clutter)

Hello everybody !

I am back with some Montessori Home tips for the next little while. This one is about CLUTTER !!! One of the main aspect people notice in a Montessori space (classroom or home) is the lack of clutter (in the children areas at least).

It is the trend to talk about decluttering weather we follow a KonMari method or another Minimalist approach. If it has become such an important topic, it’s because WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF, TOO MANY THINGS ! People feel like they are possessed by their belongings and consumerism is not helping. Everywhere there are advertisements of one kind or another telling us we need this or that and pushing us to buy.

Well, to make a Montessori home, you do not need to be under clutter or to buy all the toys and make it expensive if you don’t want to or cannot. Montessori is way more than that (see previous posts!!).

To start, let’s just talk about our children and how we can make it easier for them and us to feel more peaceful in a de-cluttered environment.

When it comes to choices, and Montessori education offers choices to the child, LESS IS MORE. We do not give the child too many choices because it becomes overwhelming (we feel the same when there is too big of a choice in the grocery store for example).

baby shelves
Here is an example of what was set up for our daughter at 10-11 months. Shelves are clean, clear and attractive to the child. Certain activities need to be displayed in baskets or tray to make it easier for the child to access or take off the shelf. 

In our home, for our daughter we have one clear box of activities and toys for her stage that we keep in the back (closet, storage room…) and we keep only 6 out on her shelves in the main room. This is enough. These activities are chosen carefully based on her level of interest in certain things and where she is in her development. These work on language, hand-eye coordination and art right now.

She does not feel overwhelmed, we don’t either. Her space is calm and she knows how to place back her activities on the shelf when she is done using it.

For example at almost 21 months, she has vocabulary cards, nesting dolls, a puzzle, a basket of building blocks, a tray with paper and crayons (she can also ask for another medium if she feels like it), a basket of bean bags. Some of them are closed ended activities with a direct purpose (but we encourage imagination as well) and others are open ended activities to let her express her creativity.

The rest of our house is also prepared for her so she has lots of Practical Life activities easily accessible and freedom of movement through the house.

That’s it for now, just think about how you could purge extra toys/activities that are too loud, too bright, too overwhelming, broken, unattractive. Then, reorganize what you keep in clear bins and then choose 6 for your child to put out in her play/work space.

By de-cluttering toys, we bring order and peace to our children: LESS IS MORE.

How do you keep your child’s space out of clutter ?

How to choose books in a Montessori environment?

How to choose books in a Montessori environment?

This question is asked a lot in Montessori groups around the world: What type of books should I get (buy or from library) for my child?

I can answer this question with another question: At what stage/plane is your child?

Because it does depend on how young your child is.

I will focus here on the first plane (from birth until 6 years old) as it is the trickiest for people to understand sometimes and I will try to make it simple and to the point.

  • During the first 6 years of her life, your child has an absorbent mind and takes everything in. Any piece of information is being processed in her brain and her idea of life bases itself on what they get from the outside world. This is why the environment we live in/create for/around them is so important.
  • During these first 6 years, your child understands and seeks reality. She cannot process/understand what is not concrete or real. She processes information but not the same way we do later on, she sticks to what she sees, hears, tastes, smells, touches so to sum up, she takes in and believe what she feels sensorially.


Now I have a question: Based on what you just read, do you think children can understand fantasy, make believe or fake?

reality book1
Real life pictures are highly appreciated by young children.

Naturally, the answer is no. Your child cannot make the difference between reality and fantasy. Fantasy would be taken in as reality. This is why children of the first plane are often scared of fake characters like Santa or monsters. They think it’s real and well, I am not one to lie to my child in general so I don’t read her books that are based on stories that would be totally unrealistic.

Therefore, we choose books based on reality and children love it. As a teacher and a mother, I can vouch for this need for reality and connection to what is close to their own life. We read books about children who do real life things like cooking, gardening, and any activity they can relate to. We don’t use books where bears, fish and rabbits talk. Children would be very disappointed and waiting a long time for their pet to answer them back if they thought it would be possible. We read books about what real animals do.

And YES we do have lots of fun reading realistic books, our daughter is 20 months and loves to build her vocabulary so she likes vocabulary books and preferably with realistic pictures (when it’s possible). Our students, who are a little older (around 3 ), love and connect to books like Henry helps, as they can often relate.

reality book2
This series of books is great and children can relate to it. We have some great conversations afterwards.


I will leave it at that and hope it gives the minimum you need on how to choose books for your child.

Around 6 years old, the child starts abstracting and can then understand that fantasy is not real and they can start appreciating these fairy and monster stories with a little more maturity. Never forget that they need you to help them guide their young minds towards understanding the world. The real world.

What are your favourite realistic books for young children?

Praise vs Acknowledgement: a Montessori perspective

I have been thinking about this article for months and I was waiting for my head to finally feel ready for it. Praise versus acknowledgement is an important subject when it comes to self-esteem and confidence.

We went from one extreme to another, in the past, people were expected to work hard, and no praise was given or expected and on the contrary, negative criticism would be given to fix mistakes. A few decades later, we reached the other side of the spectrum, people are scared of hurting children’s self-esteem so they started to praise and “GOOD JOB!” and “GOOD GIRL/BOY!” were heard all over schools, homes, stores, everywhere.

But the irony is that none of these did any good to children’s self-esteem or confidence. They were both focusing on giving an opinion of the result of what a child or an adult would do. The old times created people with low self-esteem and the latter created a generation expecting constant external validation without which they cannot feel confident.

Psychology studies seem to find that an in-between is best. Montessori falls into this category.

pink tower process
It is the process that counts.


What we want is to have children happy and proud of the work they did and the process they used, we don’t want to focus as much on the result. Why? Because the result can be depreciative when a lot of work has been put into it but what we want is not to discourage people (child or adult). Being discouraged will make the child stop trying. However, an acknowledgement of the process keeps the child making effort until she can realize she succeeded. Montessori activities provide a control of error that helps the child see if she reached the result that is expected. Be patient, the child will get there by herself.



What can we say instead of “Good job!… Amazing!… Good girl/boy”

In Montessori we :

  • Acknowledge the result (« You did build the tower”, “You helped me put the dishes away, thank you!”, “You read that word all by yourself…)
  • Encourage the effort or the process (« You put a lot of effort into this work”, “I see you used a lot of blue, do you like blue?”)


It is more about showing the child we have noticed what she is showing us. If it is the first time they do something, you could comment on the result but you don’t have to, especially if the child still seems very focused and is not asking for external validation. We also acknowledge (but not praise) when the child seems to want us to notice what she did.

happy smile
The smile of inner self-esteem and confidence growing after a lot of work has been put into this button frame.

This is why we think our activities through, what is offered to the child has a meaning to us, the child needs to work at it and she might feel frustrated at first because it is not easy but with acknowledgement of the effort, she can keep on going until she is satisfied and happy of the result herself. What we want is to avoid the NEED for external validation that is very present nowadays. A friend told me recently that her partner has been praised constantly as a child and later on. He is now constantly frustrated because his boss does not seem to care about his work. How is he going to overcome this ingrained feeling that he does not need someone else to feel validated.

My final word would be : “Let yourself be proud as a caregiver/parent but let the child be proud without you, in all independence.”

As a parent/teacher, I do feel proud of my child/students and when I do, I pat myself on the back because it took some work to prepare the right environment for them and I reward myself at time (your choice of glass of favourite drink, little sweet indulgence such as a croissant for example) but I let the child build her confidence. I also watch for these satisfied, inner happiness smiles children have when they feel proud of themselves: they did it by themselves and for themselves.

The Absorbent Mind and the importance of modelling

Hello dear adults of the Montessori world !

As I observe the children around me (including my own 19 months old daughter), I notice every single day how much they look at us, the adults, as role models. We do not always realize how much influence we have on them.

As you might know, the child has an Absorbent Mind and can see, hear, feel everything around her. You might feel like she does not when you are asking them to do something of course – though give them time, it is sometimes just a matter of processing time, I usually wait 5-10 seconds for my daughter to react to what I have asked and it works, otherwise, she will shake her head and say ‘no’.

From birth your child is acute to absorb everything around and process it, this is how she learns language(s) for example. One thing I notice more and more is how much children observe everything we do or say, EVERYTHING, good and bad.

When I hear them using words or phrases that adults use, I realize the influence we have on them – hopefully for the best, but at times… for worse.

So I will just give you food for thoughts, as a reminder.

Does your child yell?  You might not notice that you do raise your voice more than you think and your child is just doing the same.

Does your child throws things around when she gets undressed? You might not notice that you are going fast and sometimes throw your gloves, hat, coat or theirs. Something to watch as your child has a strong sense of order.

Don’t worry, even a Montessori teacher/mom does it once in a while. Then, I step back and I slow down. I might feel like I don’t have time for slowing down but I do anyway.

Because my child is watching me. Because time with my child matters. Because I am setting up the tone for their life. Because I am their role model and they have an absorbent mind.

tea and book

So remember to take time for yourself so you can be the model for the ones you love. 


Our journey into toilet awareness – from 3 months to 18 months (1)

Hello everybody,

I am excited to talk about what everybody calls potty training. Why ? Because it seems like a lot of parents are struggling and many books are being written to help parents do it the right way and fast.

Well… in the Montessori world, we follow the child and make sure the child is respected so instead of stressing about it and rush it to have a child independent on the toilet in a few days, we take our time.

A little background first… I am from France and I have many children in my family and around me and potty training is not discussed as much as it seems to be in North America (where I live now). I asked my mother and other moms coming from France like me and indeed, no stress, no fuss, they just do it over time. HOW ? Well everybody seem to follow more or less the same process where children are in underwear and have a potty and well that’s it! In certain household, parents remind their child to go to the potty  on a regular basis until they get it and go by themselves; in other families, they just tell the child that this is where we will try to pee and poo and accept the ‘accidents’ until the child is ready for the potty by herself. When you hear them, I swear it does not seem like a big deal! I will add that in France, School (preschool) starts at 3 and often 2.5 years old so children are definitely going independently to the toilet on their own beforehand. In average, I would say, it’s being taken care of right before they turn 2 or before when the child shows signs of readiness. In my family, it looks like I was toilet independent by 21 months and my brothers around 22-23 months. So why not ?!!

Now, back to where we are in our home. I have been reading and reading and talking to people and sometimes feel stuck in between what works or not and the stress it seems to be for some parents. My husband and I have decided to follow advice from Montessori people (infant/toddler teachers or training centre) from the start:

  • Our child is in cloth diapers from birth (except at night because we could not find a good fit to avoid leaks or when we go on long trips). Cloth diapers help the child realize she is wet so this natural sensation gives a potential discomfort that makes the child tell you when it’s time to be changed. Our daughter would scream as a young baby whenever she was wet and felt happy the minute we would tell her that we were going to change her. She is still in cloth diapers and is now, at 18 months, able to tell us when she peed or when she needs to pee (before it happens) hence we can now make it to the potty on time.
ALexis potty 3 m
Only picture of our daughter at 3.5 months being held by my husband on the potty, she always loved it and would usually smile.
  • Our daughter has been put on the potty as soon as she could sit and hold herself enough to be comfortable on it but we would still hold her to be safe. We had a great Babybjorn potty and my husband was devoted to put her on the potty anytime she would tell us she was wet. After a few weeks, she would pee in the potty almost every time and would still wet her diaper (which is normal). This way, the potty is a very familiar thing, there is no big fuss around it or fear of it. It was part of the changing area in her bedroom.
  • When there are signs of readiness (peeing or pooping in corners), saying they did it, holding their diaper when they wet it…), cloth diapers can go away and training pants are introduced (they are thicker in the middle than regular underwear and hold a little pee but the child still feels it go down).

After that, it depends on the child and how she has been doing around the potty. Like I said earlier, you can just go with the flow and if there is a pee in the underwear, then, we go remove it, go on the potty (to potentially finish), clean and put new underwear. After a while, the child will end up just going to the potty with no ‘accidents’ in the underwear. Others would remind the child, regularly to go to the potty (to avoid the ‘accidents as much as possible) and eventually the child will also be able to go to the potty when she feels she needs to go instead of during or after it happens.

It’s part of the child and the family’s journey. Take it slow, follow the child and choose cute diapers and panties, it makes it even more fun for everybody !

bathroom set up
18 months old – our bathroom set up : a basket (with diapers, toilet paper, cloth wipes (in the box) and a book. A. loves to choose the diaper she will wear next ), the potty (this one is from IKEA and works well as she is older and can get on it on her own easily), a little step stool where she sits to remove slippers, pants etc or sit to put pants back on; it also doubles as a step stool for reaching the sink to wash hands. Soon, the diapers will be replaced by training pants.

In our home, our daughter is 18 months and is still using her cloth diapers and also show signs of being able to tell us before she needs to go or when she just did it in her diaper, like she has been for a while. However, I can feel a difference in the way she manifests it is happening, she tells us more often than before and yesterday, told me : “caca” (which is her word for pee, poo, potty and toilet) and went straight up the staircase to go to the bathroom. I thought, she was telling me she had done something and needed to go on potty and get a change. Surprise!!! The diaper was dry and she peed in the potty only. So I know she is getting there by herself.

As soon as the weather and temperature becomes nicer, hoping for when she is around 19-20-21 months, diapers will go away and will be replaced by training pants to began our last part of the toilet awareness journey.

No stress, just pee in the potty!

I hope you can also be stress free when it comes to your child’s independence on the toilet. Let me know your experience.

Our Montessori household and screen time

Hello everybody,

I wanted to write a quick post this week about screen time. I seem to encounter a lot of parents telling me they cannot be parents if their child has no screen time, that it gives them time for themselves to do things during or at the end of the day. I understand the struggle, I am a parent and yes it is hard to be able to work, cook, shop, pay bills, etc when your child(ren) need nurturing and attention.

My Montessori take on this is that I trust my child to be able to do certain things by herself and that by preparing an environment for her developmental needs, then she can get time by herself – and she needs it – so I can get things done, SCREEN FREE.

As a teacher I have always advocated for no screen at all under 3 years old and very limited and supervised screen time or not at all under 6 years old. When I was a classroom teacher, it was quite often that I could pinpoint the children who would have screen time and those who would not as I would observe reactions, focus and concentration on activities and so on. So YES it shows. I am not a fan of : “I watched TV as a child ans turned out fine!” because what you don’t know is how better it might have been for you in life without it.

Now, the point is not to feel guilty and think we are bad parents if we feel like we cannot do it any other way. NOT AT ALL. You are just trying to make it work. We all are. Sometimes, we feel ill-equipped.

Our choice, in our house, for our daughter’s brain sake and development is to make sure she does not get much access or not at all to screen technology – the only one we have is skype with the family abroad, we keep it real, there is no artificial people, lazy watching or games to play. Just talking to people we cannot see otherwise.

I might get less time for me but this is something I work out with my husband to get time for myself as he spends time with her and vice versa. As per cooking, well, I use nap time or I have my child involved in the process, we cook together often, she loves watching, pouring, mixing and see the final result in our plates afterwards.

NO SCREEN, just an apron and some real life responsibilities she loves. 

If you feel like you need to read more about this, please go to https://www.screenfreeparenting.com/tech-wise-parenting-articles/

This website has researches and tips to help parents. It can help making an informed decision and give you tips on what to do to be screen free if you are seeking this path for your family.

I hope this helps, I find my life quite simpler and less stressful without screens all around us. We keep our screens out of reach or hidden until our child is ready to handle this responsibility, because what is to understand is that using screens smartly is a (part of our parental) responsibility.

Would you be ready for a screen free month with your child(ren) ?