Parental Pressure

As a parent, there are few pleasures greater than your child succeeding at school. But in attaining that ‘pleasure’ how much ‘pressure’ do they put on the child is something to be pondered upon.

Often we come across children feeling bogged down due to the pressure of expectations from their parents. Children are made to understand that they are required to attain good grades whatever it may take. This enhances the exam stress. Besides that parents persistently compare their child’s grades with their peers. This ‘peer pressure’ or ‘fear of comparison’ also can create stress and anxiety in children. Continue reading “Parental Pressure”

Brains need plenty of quiet time

A sign in my father’s office read, ”Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”

Ungrammatical, but it captured the essence of my father. My dad spent a lot of time thinking and planning, but he didn’t hesitate to take the down time of ”just” sitting and doing nothing. Dad understood what was good for him, as well as for all the grandchildren that loved to sit on his lap, and just sit.

Children need opportunities to simply sit, rest, observe, quietly explore and be. My dad understood a child’s need for this quiet time. With our children we need to balance activity with tranquil and undisturbed time.

Continue reading “Brains need plenty of quiet time”

Notes from my Observation, 4th August 2017, Babulnath

Its 9:15am and Aarav and Isha have decided to work with the ‘The Square of the Decanomial’. They seem happy both to be working together and to be working on this particular material.

As I sit down next to them, they explain to me, “Two people need to work on this, one person cannot do it”. They have already laid down two mats. Aarav brings the large board which acts as a base for the exercise and Isha brings the heavy box with the material.

Continue reading “Notes from my Observation, 4th August 2017, Babulnath”

In Class Observation, 6th July 2017, Marine Drive

Today was my designated day to observe in the Marine Drive classroom. I sat down with my book in a corner looking forward to the next hour or two. Classroom observations can be so eye opening and sometime very entertaining too.


A new child – Karan, who joint just last week was upset. He was walking around following one teacher who had now become his secure net. He was continuously calling out to go to his mama when the teacher asked him to get a mat and brought out some wild animal cards. As soon as the envelope came out the boys eyes lit up. The teacher laid out the cards one by one and the child started naming the animals. “Lion. I have a thick mane of hair.” “Tiger. Grrr…” The child knew the names of every animal in the pack and talked on about each animal. The teacher was happy to see his enthusiasm and added on more interesting facts about the animals they saw. Now it was time for the adult to move on and direct another child who was working with subtraction material. She told Karan to look at the cards and that she would come back after sometime. She asked Jian to help him. However Jian was quite happy polishing a stool and didn’t want to be disturbed. However, Aman who was pouring Rajma next to Karan was happy to be of help. Karan showed each animal one by one and Aman proudly gave every name. Karan looked at the cards a few more times and seemed done; he walked over to aunty and asked her to come back but aunty was busy. Sia who had just put away her work, noticed Karan’s plight. She sat down and showed Karan how to put each card back in the case. She showed one and then told Karan, “Now you put it away like I did.” Karan slowly put the cards back. He was upset again. Sia was next to him and told Karan to roll his mat but Karan did not want to. Seeing this Sia, barely 3.5 years, rolled the mat for Karan and told him to put it back. Karan put the mat away.


Aman who had been working on pouring Rajma had a spill. Sia who was now tracing the sandpaper sounds was near by. Sia and Karan both reached out to help Aman with the spill. The teacher encouraged Sia to go back to her work and Karan and Aman were happy to clear up together.


The stories from the classroom are endless. Today’s observation just showed my how beautifully the mixed age group works. How children even without being asked, reach out to a classmate – to pacify him, help him and guide him.

-Ashani Hirway

(Names of children have been changed)

Sharing can only be Inspired


I watch as a little girl grabs a shovel, which lays near a little boy playing contentedly in the sand.  Both children look around the age of two or three, struggling still to navigate their bodies or express themselves in words.  The little boy looks up at her with big eyes and bursts into loud tears, reaching out to grab for it.  She clutches it defiantly to her chest.  Two mothers scramble for how to respond.

“You have to share,” they say in unison to their respective children.  They both know there are plenty of sand toys to go around.

The tears are not assuaged.  The little girl is not convinced and the little boy has no intention of being persuaded that this is not a catastrophe.  The girl bursts into tears now, threatened by the idea that she might lose the precious shovel.  Two children are crying loudly.

What do you do when all of a sudden 2 kids want the same toy? Forcing them to share is not the answer. Find out why and how to inspire sharing in your child.

The mother of the boy tries to give another shovel to her son while the girl’s mother tries to convince her to give the shovel in question in exchange for something else.  The wailing continues.  The mothers squirm with discomfort, frustration written on their faces.  There’s embarrassment there, and worry, too.  “We need to share,” they both repeat, in desperation.  But written on their faces, the struggle is real: what do we do??

If they both grabbed up their phones and started voraciously googling “get your kid to share,” they would come across hundreds of websites all suggesting different things.  Some discuss rewards, others discuss consequences, and still others will talk about how to avoid the situation in the first place.  And yes, there are many ways to handle this situation.  But first, it helps to really understand what sharing is all about.

Sharing is a prosocial behavior, meaning that it is an action intended to help another person.  It requires empathy, altruism, and most importantly, must be volunteered (in order to genuinely be considered as “sharing”).  If these sound like complicated terms for a toddler, you’re right.  Sharing takes a level of cognitive ability and understanding of the concept of fairness, which most young children are still in the process of developing.  This means that sharing is a developmental process, and it takes time.

It’s not that you won’t see toddlers share; these prosocial behaviors begin to emerge as empathy begins to develop.  Your child may offer you a bite of their food or a hug when you are sad.  They might offer a toy to a friend.  These offers may not be consistent or timely, but as they grow, you will notice them more and more.  Between the ages of six and twelve, empathy will grow dramatically and these prosocial behaviors will become a part of your child’s skill set as they begin to value fairness.  Children grow to be more likely to not only voluntarily share, but even go out of their way to make sure others have a fair amount.

Given that sharing behavior is predictive of success, it’s easy to understand why parents might feel compelled to make their children share.  The problem is that “making” children share does not actually reflect the natural development of the skill, nor does it make them more likely to share in the future.  If making children share becomes associated with you taking away their toy and giving it to someone else, you may find that forced sharing actually leads to defensive and angry feelings about sharing, causing children to focus more on possessiveness.

So, if sharing is so important, how can we encourage it?

First and foremost, you have to be a model of sharing

Prosocial behaviors are best learned from the environment; meaning, if you want children to share then they need to see you sharing.  Sharing your meal, your ice cream cone, your blanket, your seat…these are all ways for children to see you demonstrate this behavior.  Sharing with people other than your child holds importance as well.  You can share household items with your neighbor or share your snacks with other families at the playground.  The more your child witnesses sharing, the more likely they will share.

Use the language of “share” while you are sharing

When you demonstrate sharing behaviors, explain to your child that you are “sharing.”  If they ask for something of yours, respond “I would love to share with you.”  If you are sharing with others, express to your child that you are sharing and discuss why you have made that choice (“I’m going to share my recipe with Grandma because I know that will make her happy”).  The more often that you use this language, the more children will categorize these behaviors as sharing and understand what you mean when you talk about it.

Give children a choice

Research demonstrates that children are more likely to share when they are given a choice about sharing.  In other words, instead of making children share, we can let them decide if they would like to share.  While this may not yield the response we’d like in every situation, it goes a long way in encouraging kids to share.

Let’s take the above scenario.  The mother of the little girl might have pointed out the little boy’s emotions: “oh, no, that little boy is so sad, I bet that he was really hoping to play with that; would you like to share that shovel with him and I’ll help you find another one?”  Giving your child a choice to make this difficult decision will become an exercise in sharing, and the more often they choose to share, the more likely they will choose to share again.

Catch them sharing

If you see your child sharing, acknowledge that they have shared (“oh, look, how wonderful of you to share with your friend”).  Express to your child how their action had a positive impact on another person (“I can see your friend is so happy that you shared with him…look how happy you have made him”).  Let your child see how sharing has made you feel as well (“it makes my heart so happy when I see you share”).  This encouragement will help your child view sharing as a positive act to be repeated.

Relax, and remember that the skills for sharing take time

Your children may share, and sometimes they may not.  And that’s okay.  If your children are not ready to share their toys, it’s okay to give them the language to say “no, thank you, I don’t want to share right now.”   Sometimes children have strong reasons for not wanting to share in a given moment (like that little girl and boy above), and those feelings are legitimate, just as adults don’t always choose to share either.  Give them the space to make those decisions and grow.

Children learn what they live…if you are a caring and sharing person, they will learn all they need from your example.

Digital Age – iPAD time for a 4 year old

While reading a book called ‘The Big Disconnect’ – on family life in this digital age, I came across this short passage that I find worth sharing.

Alissa is four and a half years old and delights in describing what she likes to do when she gets home from school. “My favourite thing to do is play dress-up”, she tells me. Continue reading “Digital Age – iPAD time for a 4 year old”

Montessori at Home – Part 1

We all want our children to be responsible, confident, focused and independent. Every year parents ask us – What can we do at home? It is the joint responsibility of parents and the school to provide the right environment for the child. This blog is the start of a series of blogs that will address the subject of Montessori at Home.

We all understand that our children have needs – physical, emotional, intellectual. We also know that children from birth through six go through ‘Sensitive Periods’. These periods are developmental phases in the life of a child where their whole mind and body is focused on developing a certain aspect of themselves. The chart below outlines the Sensitive Periods of a preschool child.

Order in the Environment

From the moment the child is born he is constantly bombarded with innumerable amounts of assorted information. All these pieces of information just pile up and can be very overwhelming, which is why young infants are so easily overloaded. The need for order helps a sort out all this information in the environment around him.

The Sensitive period for order starts from birth and peaks at 18 months to 2.5 years and prolongs to age 5. This is characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition. There exists a passionate love for established routines and disorder disturbs a child. The “terrible twos” are often exaggerated reactions to small disruptions in order that is not perceived by adults. The environment therefore must be organised with a place for everything and with carefully established ground rules.


It is also important to have external order as order in their environment where there is an appropriate place for everything as this helps the child also establish their internal order.

They may at this time insist on the same routine, and at times parents don’t really have time to respect this in the busy lives. One may even see a child put things in back into place if they are out of order if given the chance.


Creating an Ordered environment at home

Our Montessori classroom is laid out to meet this need. Every activity has a fixed place – the pouring of water is always put at a certain place on the shelf. There is a definite pattern to how work is taken in the class – All water work must be done using an oil-cloth, slippers must be worn while going to the washroom. Rules of the classroom stay fixed – hands must be washed before eating a snack, one task must be put away before another task is undertaken. Rules are not flexible no matter who the teacher is and what the day is like.


Here a few things you can do at home to help meet this need for order:

  • Every thing in the home must be allocated a space. Children need to know where they can find what they need and where to put it away when done.
  • Clothes should be kept in low shelves or drawers that are accessible to a child.
  • A step stool must be placed in the bathroom and kitchen so your child can reach the sink
  • Toys and games should be put on low open shelves where each game has an allocated space. Shelves should be free of clutter.
  • Healthy snacks should be placed on lower shelves in the kitchen or pantry so children can help themselves.
  • Water or other drinks can be put in small pitchers with glasses accessible to the child
  • A child size broom, dustpan & brush and a sponge or mops must be kept so they are easily accessible for the child.
  • The child must have a schedule at home. A fixed time to wake up, lunch-time, nap time, playtime and bed time and a caregiver that the child can count on being there everyday.
  • Rules must remain the same. An allowance to eat candy one evening and not the next evening can be confusing to a child. Mixed messages disrupt a child’s sense of order – One parent asking a child to clear her room after her work while the other parent assigning that job to a maid.


All these are not easy to implement but if we take active effort on an everyday basis we will help children become more responsible, independent and happy.

Do read our related blog:

This write up was put together by Tina Mehta and Ashani Hirway.

Children Should Get Bored, Say Experts

Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says.

Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination

She quizzed author Meera Syal and artist Grayson Perry about how boredom had aided their creativity as children.

Syal said boredom made her write, while Perry said it was a “creative state”.

The senior researcher at the University of East Anglia’s School of Education and Lifelong Learning interviewed a number of authors, artists and scientists in her exploration of the effects of boredom. Continue reading “Children Should Get Bored, Say Experts”

The Problem with too many toys

Montessori playrooms, homes, and classrooms are just sparser than their mainstream counterparts. It’s an easy difference to see and one that makes a HUGE difference to a child. But, seriously, why is having too many toys a problem in a Montessori home?

Well, there are a few reasons. Any number of these reasons is reason enough to take a hard look at how many toys you have out and whether it’s working for your children.



One, a room full of toys is overwhelming to a child, especially a baby or toddler. It can be difficult to choose anything to play with when there are so many choices. So, what value is there to the child if the child is unable to actually use it? I think many of us have experienced a child walking into a playroom, sifting around for a bit and then claiming to be bored.


“We must therefore create a favourable environment that will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts. All that is needed is to remove the obstacles.” Maria Montessori


Before Montessori, I would see my child do this and assume his boredom meant he didn’t like what we had. So, I would buy another toy, gadget, or container. It never once occurred to me that he may just be completely overwhelmed by the choices.

Related to this, what fun is it to play with a puzzle, if you have to search for the pieces first? Or if the parts to the stacker are at the bottom of the toy box. It’s almost physically impossible for a young child to focus on one activity if they have to gather everything from a crowded room or bin.


“The little child’s need for order is one of the most powerful incentives to dominate his early life.” Maria Montessori 

Next, rooms full of toys can disrupt a child’s sense of order. The sensitive period for order starts at birth and continues until between age 5 to 6. It peaks somewhere between 18 months and 2.5. When we have things everywhere, children are unable to maintain the natural order they crave so much. Without this order, they can seem sort of lost.

What is the problem with too many toys? From a Montessori perspective too many toys can interrupt a child's sense of order, create stress and is downright overwhelming. Here are some reasons it's a problem to have too many toys.

When that sense of order is disrupted, so is their concentration, and independence. This sense of order produces a natural happiness for children. It helps them to orient themselves in their environment, it literally stitches together the entire environment and their own relationship within it.


Practically, it can just be a source of stress — for both the child and the parent. How much time is spent just trying to keep the room somewhat usable? How much struggling between the parent and the child is done to maintain the area? Or, the amount of time at night I spent cleaning up after Henry went to bed.

Now, I’m not saying that Montessori will cure all of these issues and your kids are going to magically start cleaning everything up, but it has made a huge difference. When there is a place for everything and everything in its place, it really is so much easier for everyone to maintain that order. And so many of those struggles disappear.


Finally, it’s usually just not beautiful. I know my playroom wasn’t before Montessori. It was dread. It was stuff thrown everywhere in bins, along the walls, on the floors. It would get so messy Henry couldn’t walk. You couldn’t find pieces, toys randomly started making noises, I got foot injuries from stepping on the junk. This is a clear issue.

“The child should live in an environment of beauty.” Maria Montessori 

When toys are everywhere, it doesn’t call to the child. It doesn’t suck the child in. It doesn’t invite the child to work. All of which is so so important for you and the child. And if it isn’t beautiful, then you know it’s not working.

And, the solution, is to get rid of those toys!

Once you recognize the problem with too many toys, how do you fix the problem? Here’s how to purge your toys keeping Montessori in mind!
The above article is from a blog by a Montessori mom.