I recently discovered this fantastic series of videos for parents from Nido Marketing elaborating on a few of the concepts we’ve shared with you this year. The series is FREE if you’re interested in learning more, and each video is only about two minutes long. This video is about involving your child in cleaning, something we can always use help with, right? And, generally cleaning is a very engaging activity for our young friends as they are wanting to mimic everything you do. We invite you to share any pics of your children cleaning around the house, and we’ll share them with our friends, enjoy!
I wanted to offer some suggestions for work that you can do at home with what you have on hand. In addition to art and puzzles, providing lots of opportunity for practical life is a great way to keep your child engaged and busy. Most chores are typically very exciting for young children. Believe it or not, they love to be involved in the work of keeping a home orderly! Remember, you do not have to entertain your child all day. They are totally capable of finding work that will keep them happy. Gently enforce rules around safety, and give them some freedom and space to explore. Also, easier said than done, but try not to worry about the mess until later.
Some activities will require some set-up, time and supervision, though after some observation, you might note that your child can handle the activity fairly independently. If so, you can set up any of the following works in your kitchen, living room or outdoor play area, letting your child know that the work will live there and they can access it anytime they choose. Of course, don’t forget to remind them, because they know, an important part of the work cycle is cleaning up when they’re done!
Most of these activities are self-explanatory, but I’ll provide some examples of this work over the next few weeks via Instagram for inspiration. Have fun!
- Pouring beans, rice, sand, or other dry materials between containers
- Pouring water between containers
- Transferring objects between containers using a spoon, ladle, sifter, tongs, or any other kitchen utensil
- Preparing a snack for themselves and others
- Whisking water and dish soap in a large bowl to make bubbles
- Sweeping with a hand broom and dustpan
- Scrubbing tables, chairs, floors, or other surfaces
- Washing toys or vehicles
- Dusting shelves or plants
- Sort recycling
- Load and unload the dishwasher or washing machine
- Fold small towels or washcloths
- Flower arranging
- Any kind of food prep – slicing, chopping, peeling, mashing . . .
- Dishwashing (can be done in a small tub on the floor)
- Putting on and taking off socks, shoes, sweaters, pants, etc.
- Hanging clothes on hangers and putting them away
- Feeding, watering, and brushing pets
- Window washing
- Raking leaves, watering lawn or garden, weeding, planting, digging holes
A fellow teacher shared the following tips for “homeschooling.” Not all of the advice applies as some of it is more applicable for older children. Just thought I’d share in case there’s a nugget or two in here that might help, particularly if you have more than one child or you’re trying to figure out how to balance work with everything else. Well, aren’t we all? My words are parenthesized in italics.
Are you struggling with home school? Here are a few tips:
1) Create a dedicated school/office space with limited distractions and all needed supplies. (In other words, set up your prepared environment.)
2) Create a simple age based schedule and stick to it! (Well, do what you can. Remember that routine and structure will provide peace for all, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.)
3) Use the timer on your phone to manage transitions and prevent burnout. (Go easy on yourself. Find tools that work for you, and if they don’t, keep trying. Now is not the time to try and be parent of the year! Self-care, or self-love, is the key here.)
4) Kids are not actively learning all day at school. There are lots of built in breaks, transitions, and movement. Keep active learning to smaller sessions. (This one, in particular does not apply; young children should be allowed to move regularly! Remember to follow your child and provide regular, meaningful hands-on activities and experiences with lots of space for free play and exploration. In short, you don’t have to “teach” or engage them all day.)
5) Prepping for the week will make all the difference… (Baby steps! I understand what she’s trying to say here, but don’t worry if you haven’t figured out how to “prep for the week” in this time of uncertainty. We are all figuring things out as we go!)
6) Your teachers will over-provide resources and activities. Do not feel like you have to do them all; you don’t need to sacrifice your child/parent bond for unrealistic expectations. (Strongly agree here! What’s more important than your child’s “learning” or academics is your emotional connection with them at this time. Do not put pressure on yourself in other words. Taking care of yourself means you’re taking care of your child.)
If you want some general tips on taking care of yourself through this pandemic, check out this recent post A Letter to Parents During a Pandemic from Jack’s Mom in Austin.
Hi all. Just wanted to share a few pics of some of the work Frances has been doing at home over the last week just as a reminder that you don’t have to purchase a bunch of new materials to “do” Montessori or to keep your child engaged. Granted, I have a ton of supplies here and am a bit of a craft hoard, but a lot of what we do is centered on what we already have lying around. We are now also looking for new uses for items we normally discard. For example, since Frances is wanting to draw on every surface imaginable, I have recently resorted to cutting up recycled cereal and cracker boxes for the extra cardboard, and she loves it!
So, get creative . . . and, if you need a little help or inspiration, you can visit our shared folder in our Google drive where I’ve posted a Toddler Toolkit that should help get you started.
12 Toddler and Preschool Montessori Activities – Using what you already have! from the blog How We Montessori is another fantastic resource if you’re looking for more!
Finally, I want to remind everyone that not everything we share here will be for every child. Toddlers have a lot of common interests, but your child is unique and what engages one child may not engage another. Some of this may require some experimenting on your part, offering activity, noting your child’s interest or lack of interest, and adapting accordingly. In the Montessori classroom, it’s what we call “following the child.”
Soooooooo . . . don’t feel worried or bad if your child is not interested in these activities. In the classroom, we offer various opportunities and give the child freedom to choose, observe their interest, and then build from there. It will be very much the same at home, so don’t stress about doing this the “right way.” You know your child better than anyone, so, believe it or not, you’re already an expert. Take your time, take a breath and have fun. ❤
Playing “I Spy” is a simple and fantastic way to engage your child while helping build vocabulary, comprehension and critical thinking, even for very young children. It’s also an easy way to involve children of multiple ages. While “I Spy” is a traditional car game, the beauty of it is that you can play it anywhere. You can play it on a rainy indoors, in the backyard or while on a walk. As an extension for younger children, you could add photos for them to follow along.
I created a PDF with things you might find on a neighborhood walk as inspiration. You can click this link Color Scavenger Hunt to print it or find it in our Google drive. Meanwhile, a Montessori minute with Nido Marketing below!
Montessori mama and blogger Nicole Kavanaugh recently shared these words from Maria Montessori which I thought might be helpful to reflect on as we prepare for another week at home with our children. Many of us are now finding ourselves in a position of having to keep our children busy while tending to our own work. Remember that free play is valuable work as well, and you don’t have to engage your child all day long to ensure their continual learning. Children are intrinsically motivated to find tasks that meet their developmental needs, and often do best when left to explore on their own in an environment suited for their needs, a safe space with options for movement, exploration and discovery. In short, PLAY is good!
“So long as a child is actively interested in what he is doing and there is no harm in his activity, he is working on his own development. Besides any new idea he may be grasping, he is developing concentration and self-discipline.” Maria Montessori
We hope your children have been enjoying the videos shared this week. Here is one from Ms. Amber!
To keep things a little more streamlined and accessible, Amber has created a YouTube channel called The Nest where we will post videos of ourselves singing some of our favorite songs, sharing some rhymes, and, hopefully reading some stories. We’re still reading up on infringement laws, but, we’re fortunate that so many folks are supporting educators by making these resources more accessible during these school closures. We’ll still be using the blog and our Instagram account to share pics, activity ideas, and additional videos, but we thought this might be an easier way for you to access videos, particularly for those kiddos who are wanting to watch them on repeat. 😉 Enjoy!
Meanwhile, check out this link to Scholastic where you can find a variety of books read aloud which your child can follow along to!
This week we’ve all been working at settling into a new routine or at least figuring out our new “normal”. On one hand, it feels as if we now have all the time in the world. On the other hand, there are moments when it feels like we don’t have time for all the new demands this situation places on those of us who are now balancing work and home life with everyone, including our children, at home.
Someone asked earlier this week, “Anyone else struggling with longer days and then wanting alone/reset time at night? I keep wishing I would set up an activity at night for mornings – and I know it’s me needing to adjust. Would love to hear what you all do first thing out of bed to kind of get everyone up slowly but with engagement!”
I have a few thoughts, though I welcome anyone to comment below and share your thoughts or suggestions . . .
- First, yes, we are all adapting, and gradually we’ll settle into new routines just as our children are learning to do. This may be a process of experimentation, and some days will be easier than others. To begin, take some time to acknowledge where you are struggling/need support or areas that you want to tweak to make your life easier. Once you identify those areas, it will be easier to ask for what you need and take baby steps in that direction.
- When you do have energy/time, think about setting small, attainable goals. Can you clear an area of your home as a designated independent play area? Can you clear some high shelves to stock with some special “ready-to-go” activities that can be pulled out with little to no prep, like play dough or an art basket? Can you set up a low shelf or cabinet where your child can access toys or activities that don’t require your immediate engagement first thing in the morning, like blocks, magnets or felt? Can you do any of this work with your child to save yourself time?
- Much of this will be age-dependent, but there are ways you can accommodate, and if screen time is what allows you to gain a little time and preserve a little sanity, then that’s ok. You can then set up expectations and share them with your child. “You may watch one hour of cartoons while I work, then we’ll do an activity together.” or “Right now we are going to have independent play. That means you can choose between playing with toys in your room, going outside or reading books. After that, we’ll work on something together.” This may be challenging depending on age and temperament, but it’s a helpful practice and may help everyone in the long run.
Personally, I am working on getting enough rest and trusting that I’ll find time to do all the things and trusting each day that what I’m doing is enough! I’m resisting the urge to “catch up” on the news or social media and trying to involve Frances in brainstorming activities we can do together and that she can do independently. I’m also trying to involve her in cleaning the house and preparing spaces where she can work. I’m trying to do a little work at night, though trying to get to bed earlier. I aspire to wake up earlier than her to get some work done when I’m most productive or to have some “me” time. I also have recently resorted to allowing her limited screen time to first thing in the morning, so I can get myself sorted. Thank you PBS! I then feel more prepared and able to spend uninterrupted time with her the rest of the day.
I know each of our situations is unique, but hopefully there’s something here that will help and, of course, I’m here if you want to chat further! And, again, we’d love to hear from others. Feel free to comment here or reach out to each other directly. Sometimes it simply helps to vent and know that we’re not alone. ❤
Thank you to all for helping me brainstorm ways we can best support our children in the coming days and weeks. I want to send an especially big THANK YOU for your patience as I, like you, have been working on processing a mountain of information in trying to figure out how to move forward in taking care of my family and our community in these very strange times. I’m still not sure what the coming month will look like, but connecting with you and receiving pictures from you has helped. A special thank you to those of you who have already reached out and for sharing such great ideas via our parent survey. If we haven’t yet talked, I hope to connect with you soon!
It may take me some time to incorporate a few of these ideas, but here are a few ways I hope to stay connected with you moving forward . . .
- Daily Instagram posts – I will likely post 2-3 a day. Each morning I’ll post a morning message to you, and either sing a song, read a story, or share activity ideas for the children. No pressure to read or like everything, I just want to post ideas as they come up for those of you who are looking for some inspiration!
- Weekly blog posts – Posts will vary. Likely, I will elaborate on some of the activities I share on Instagram to give you ideas on how to extend those activities at home or use the blog to share additional resources, including recommended books.
- Facetime and phone calls – I am available starting today to FaceTime between the hours of 10 and noon and later in the afternoon. Just shoot me a text when you’re available and we’ll make a plan, I’m flexible. and look forward to seeing the kiddos.
- Virtual circle – I’m exploring the use of Zoom for a virtual circle time, so we can all see each other live. I never thought I’d see the day, but here we are. This, as with everything else, is optional, but I’d love to see you if possible. Details coming soon.
Finally, I want to encourage you all to reach out to each other! Some of you have already shared pics of your kiddos doing fun things at home, and I’m sure other parents would love to hear your ideas. I also think the children would love to see each other via FaceTime. I know that too much screen time is not ideal for our little ones, but in this very unprecedented time, we are having to adapt and, frankly, we are fortunate to have technology that we can use to our advantage at this time to stay connected with one another. Though it’s not what we’re accustomed to, any connection with others will help both you and your children at this time.
Stay well, and I look forward to seeing you soon!
I recently read this post on Facebook that I found inspirational. It’s lengthy, but a highly recommended read. If you’re active on Facebook, I highly recommend the Facebook group Infant/Toddler Montessori at Home During School Closure, a great place to connect with other families of toddlers for support, ideas and inspiration.
Thanks to Chris Trostel for her beautiful words.. #dorealthings
Unprecedented times: take what you need from this and relax and enjoy –
Do real things.
My advice: Do not try to recreate the classroom at home.