As parents we’ve all had those moments when our kids are playing quietly, then all of a sudden they start screaming or singing at the top of their lungs. Naturally, our first reaction is to raise our voices to get them to stop or be a little quieter. However, this response can send mixed signals to a child about what is acceptable and what isn’t. Children are exploring the different volumes of their voices and discovering the reactions that these evoke. If they are being loud, and we shout at them to be quiet, we are telling them that raising our voices is ok. However, when we respond to them in a quiet, controlled voice they will want to hear what we are saying and will have to quiet down in order to do so. There are plenty of times when being loud is acceptable such as singing, exploring animal sounds or playing outside. Make sure that you, the adult, are modeling the desired volume at the desired times and you’re children will get the message.
The Silence Game:
Today we live a noisy world, TV’s, radios, cars and sirens are what we generally hear. Rarely do we ever have the chance to experience silence or savior the sounds of nature around us. The silence game was designed by Maria Montessori herself for children over the age of 4. Maria had the idea to test children’s keenness of hearing. She came up with the idea of calling them name by name, in a low whisper voice from a far corner of the room, this mimics modern day hearing test done in most schools. When a child’s name is called they can walk over to the teacher and sit next to them. If successful, children can be taken for a celebratory walk or have a special treat. This exercise, while simple demands that the students exercise patience, self-control and social spirit as they work together for a common goal.
During an observation, one of the things you might see is a child doing a particular activity blindfolded. To some this might look like the child is simply playing a game, but in reality it is a teaching strategy that is used on a daily basis. In a Montessori environment, children learn through their five senses – sight, smell, touch, sound and taste – about the world around them. Numerous studies have shown that we rely on our senses to process information when learning and that we typically engage more than one sense to help us process information faster. When multiple senses are engaged, more cognitive connections and associations are made with any given concept. When one sense is excluded, such as when doing an activity blindfolded, the others become heightened and the child learns to explore the activity in different ways. This further enhances the ability to process the new information. This is one unique approach that sets Montessori apart and that you may notice during your observation.
Dr. Montessori observed young children want to learn the tasks they saw the adults doing everyday. She saw that the children wanted to learn the skills and repeat them often. This was different from what the adults were doing in getting something done efficiently. They often practice and practice a skill till they feel satisfied. The practical life activities are an important part of the classroom that help the children develop their independence. The work in the practical life area helps the children practice skills for caring for themselves with dressing frames, hand washing, spooning, pouring, washing boots and button sewing. They also have many opportunities to practice caring for the environment through sweeping, washing lots of different things, polishing different objects and much more. Most of this work uses cloths and towels. Each is a different color to match the work. When you help us with laundry you are helping the children practice and perfect their skills. You don’t have to fold the cloths or towels. The children love folding laundry and putting it away. We are so appreciative to have the help. The next time you bring laundry home you can ask your child what this cloth or towel is used for. They might enjoy putting it in the washing machine and possibly tell you more things about their day or our classroom.
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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and unfortunately is one of the most overlooked. Breakfast sets the tone for the day- if we have a healthy breakfast we are more likely to have a good lunch and dinner. To help ensure that you and your kids have a healthy breakfast, check out our overnight oats in a jar recipe. This is an easy recipe that only takes a few minutes to prepare and is ready to go in the morning!
Step 1- Find an empty glass jar, that has a lid. Add one serving of old fashioned oats. *Tip: You can also add ground flax seed or chia seeds; your kids won’t even know that there!
Step 2- Fill the glass with milk, or plain Greek yogurt with as much as you think you or your kids can eat the next day.
Step 3- Add some of your favorite toppings such as: shaved almonds, walnuts, raisins, fruits like bananas, cherries, apples or whatever your favorite items are! You can even add things like ground flax seed or chia seeds, you and your kids won’t even know there in there and they are packed full of health benefits.
Step 4- Mix all the ingredients together. Put the lid on tightly, and let it sit in the fridge overnight
Step 5- Enjoy, the next morning!