We don't have weekly interview ready for this Monday, hopefully we'll be having something new to publish next week, so this week, we'll share some of past questions we asked some of the most influential bloggers / parents / teachers and their answers about playing and generally parenting toddlers and preschoolers.
Question: Keeping kids, specially younger, focused on a project can be tempting sometimes. Any tips how to make crafting successful, fun and completed with toddlers?
Answered by Michelle from A Mommy's Adventures: I find that the fewer expectations that I have for the completed project the more successful it is. When working with toddlers more open-ended projects that focus on a process rather than a product are often the most fun and rewarding. Giving your toddler more control over their project and understanding that they may have a much different plan than you originally set out is important to keep in mind. I love setting out paint and brushes and letting them create, or glue and collage materials and seeing what happens. If you use washable paints, markers and glue then you really don't have to worry because the mess with be able to be cleaned up with some water and soap!
Question: As an early year educator, you have bunch of kids on your hands. Could you share with us couple tips how to establish discipline (order) within a group of younger kids?
Answered by Nataša from Leptir - Montessori Blog: First of all, I must emphasize that the discipline is not achieved by intimidating children, as some people think. Discipline can be achieved if you give your child the freedom of choice - they are intrinsically motivated, interested in what they do. And that leads to discipline. It is also very important that a parent / teacher has confidence in children. Children are aware of that and appreciate it so much. It is not necessary to put in front of them many restrictions, but insist on the agreed rules. If the rules are agreed upon together with children, they will be more willing to follow them then if we try to impose rules to them. And most importantly of all, be consistent in everything you do. If parents / teachers are not consistent, children very quickly sense that the same rules do not always apply and they test and push the limits.
Question: What are 5 Montessori principles that we (parents) can use to ease our worries about our toddlers (3-4 year olds)?
Answer by Deborah from Living Montessori Now: There are a few Montessori principles I find especially helpful for addressing common worries:
1) Follow your child. That’s an essential Montessori principle and helps ease worries about whether you’re doing enough educationally. If you’re following your child’s interests and responding to his or her needs, you’ll be helping your child at any age.
2) Give your child real, child-sized tools whenever possible. Parents often worry that their children will get hurt if they let them use tools that aren’t child-safe toys. Maria Montessori felt it was important for young children to work with real, child-sized tools. Obviously, you wouldn’t give a real hammer to a 1-year-old, but with a demonstration and supervision, 3-4 year olds can learn to use a real, child-sized hammer. 3-4 year olds can also do a lot with food preparation, including peeling and slicing foods.
For Small Hands/Montessori Services is a great source for child-sized tools. If your child doesn’t handle a tool carefully, though, I’d recommend saying that you’ll need to put the tool away until he or she is ready to use it carefully. Once you feel your child is ready to handle the tool properly, demonstrate how to use the tool again before allowing your child to use it.
3) Allow your child to complete a work cycle and repeat an activity. Many parents have worried that there’s a problem if their child keeps repeating an activity. But it’s actually a very good thing.
If you don’t interrupt your child but allow him or her to repeat an activity as many times as he or she wants, your child will develop a longer attention span and will meet the needs of a particular sensitive period. Repetition is a very good sign that your child is working to meet an inner need – and is nothing to worry about! It’s wonderful, in fact!
4) Give your child freedom to explore indoors and outdoors. Maria Montessori emphasized the young child’s need to explore both indoors and outdoors. Even infants and young toddlers can be given opportunities for exploration. I have a number of posts about infants and young toddlers that give lots of ideas for Montessori-inspired exploration while still keeping your child safe.
5) Emphasize practical life and sensorial activities during the early years.Parents often worry about what sorts of activities to provide young children. Should you emphasize early academics or free play? While your toddler needs lots of time to just play and explore, the most important structured activities to provide are simply practical life and sensorial activities.
Let your child help you in the house or yard whenever possible, give plenty of opportunities for your child to develop eye-hand coordination, and try to give hands-on experience with concepts such as colors, shapes, textures, sizes, sounds, smells, and tastes. Every Monday I have an Activity of the Week with activities that are helpful for preschoolers, often including toddlers. Many of those posts are practical life or sensorial activities.