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Television – A poem

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Television

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.

In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)

They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?

IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!

‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’

Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:

THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!

And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-

Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

– Roald Dahl
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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.

Our children today seem to be bustled off to gym class, to swim, to dance, to lesson after lesson to try to maximize their learning or, heaven forbid, prevent them from being bored. Instead of trying to cram learning with activity after activity, it is better to have an environment where children can explore, investigate and inquire with help from a guide. If a child is interested in looking at rocks, an adult to offer a bit of information by perhaps pointing out the different structure of the rocks–igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic–and then to retreat, offers the child the quiet opportunity to do further exploration, thinking or simple consolidation of new and old information.

A child’s learning is deeper when it comes from within versus being crammed in by using flash cards, worksheets, questioning and on and on.

If we each look at our individual style of learning, we’ll perhaps see that we learn best when we choose our activity, do it to our satisfaction and then have a period of rest or contemplation to unify our thoughts. My grandmother resisted numerous attempts to buy herself a dishwasher, saying that washing the dishes by hand gave her time to think. My grandmother enjoyed that half-hour to reflect on the day’s events and to begin looking forward to the next activities.

Children’s brains need this time to consolidate new experiences and then to choose what activity to do to create meaningful learning. By the process of selecting what to do, our children reveal to us who they are. With time to choose, learning becomes personal and powerful. Through their choices, our children are telling us their likes, their dislikes, their interests, their passions, their weaknesses and their strengths. It all begins with being quiet and having time that is unencumbered with activities that aren’t evaluated, judged or prioritized by adults.

When we fill up our children’s days with busy work that does not tap into the brain’s powerful way to learn through quiet reflection and choice, we do our children a disservice.

Our children need this valuable unstructured time for contemplation and true learning. The brain for proper development needs quiet time, to sit and think and sometimes to ”just sits.” One could say that a child and a child’s brain need time on grandpa’s lap.

The above writeup is sourced from www. marenschmidt.com.

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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.

Tashvi is quick to catch on the excitement as she is surveying the classroom. She decides to sit down and watch them and perhaps get a chance to work too. However, she is far to young to use this material and she knows it. I remind Tashvi about the rule: “This is Aarav and Isha’s work, Tashvi and I are only going to watch and not touch their work.” Tashvi holds back her urge to touch the material.

Anaya has finished working with the map of North America. As she comes by to put the map back in the stand, she says she also wants to watch Aarav and Isha at work. The children remind Anaya the rule, “You can only watch, not touch.”

The work begins, the red, green and yellow pieces are put in place but something is not right. By the time they reach the blue colour, the error is pronounced. The material has told the children that there is a problem. They look at each other; then Aarav calls out to aunty. Aunty shows them again how to get started and how to draw lines with the finger to make sure that the pieces of the puzzle are aligned. They look satisfied and continue. Isha hands the pieces and Aarav puts them in the right place. When the blue part is finished, they take turns putting in the grey pieces. All the grey pieces have been put in place now. Both children look happy, they makeup silly sounds and chat in gibberish. They beat their tummies to make a beat. Once the short celebration is over they get to work again. The next colour is white. Aarav complains to Isha that she is placing the pieces incorrectly. Isha says the same to Aarav. But they carry on amicably. They complete placing the white following the method aunty has shown them. Aunty stops by to see the work. She says, “I see your square is becoming bigger and bigger”. Aarav and Isha feel happy about their accomplishment.

Self Correcting Material

 

They add another colour, purple this time. They take a break to chit-chat again. It is mostly repeating silly made up words – it’s their joke, it makes them laugh. The work and the chit chat after each colour continue till the exercise is complete. The big task is done. The colourful square looks beautiful and yes, perfect. It has taken them at least 35 mintues to finish it. “Let’s clap for ourselves”, says Aarav. They both clap and look jubiliant. They take a little tour of the class. They get to know Vicky sir has arrived and it’s going to be gym time soon. They go back to their mats start to put the pieces back in the box, one colour at a time. Aunty comes by again to show them how they need to put the material back. She says, “Let’s put all the large pieces down and the small ones on top. It should look organized and neat when your friends want to work with it”. They follow the guidelines given by aunty. The exercise of putting back takes some time and patience but the children work continuously till the job is done. Aarav picks up the large board to return it to its place and Isha puts away the heavy decanomial box in the designated spot. This process has taken the children almost 45 minutes from start to finish but they are not tired, infact they are energized. Mats are rolled and put away and both children excitedly join the gym group.

 

The teacher did not tell them to stop talking at anytime, she did not say they were wrong when they made some mistakes – she waited for the material to tell them. She praised their work by describing it and she helped them only when they needed it. The joy of working together, the joy of working independently, to be appreciated the right way and to be directed when needed – little things that make a big difference.

-Ashani Hirway

(Names of the children have been changed)

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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)

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Sharing can only be Inspired

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Source: http://mamainstincts.com

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.

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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.

When she plays it, which is most days after school, Alissa sits on the couch or perhaps at the kitchen table with the family iPad. She’s good at this game because she plays it a lot and her little index finger darts expertly from space to space as she selected items and colours. Tiara or barrette? Tap! Stiletto heels or peep-toe pumps? Tap! Pink or purple? Read belt or blue? Visor or sun hat? Tap! Tap! Tap! She also listens to the Tide or Claritin commercials that play before the games begin. Like many of her preschool peers, she plays a variety of apps and screen games, often in the car driving home from school or while they wait to pick up brother or sister from after-school activities. Then some more at home.

 

Alissa says that playing dress-up is her favourite thing to do, but what she is doing is not playing dress-up. Playing dress-up means digging through the box for something you like; maybe you pick one shoe and then you have to find the other, but while you’re looking, you find a different one. All the while you’re making up a story to go with it: you may start out as a princess, but then you find the wizard hat and suddenly you decide to become a sorcerer – if you can resist the pull of the shiny sheriff’s badge and the fringed leather vest it’s pinned onto. You might feel one fabric and then another, compare the texture and colour, even smell them, to arrive at a conclusion about what you like and who you don’t like; you might imagine yourself in one story or another and like or dislike the character or the story taking shape; you might not find that other matching shoe and in that moment experience a pang of disappointment – and then, rather than give up, figure out an alternative to resolve your unhappiness. You might play dress-up with a friend and the two of you could trade shoes and tops and commentary, size up each other’s costumes and ideas, pick up on another’s facial cues and body language expressing opinions and feelings about the play in progress, and eventually whether to keep playing or call it quits and move on to something else. You might argue and find out just how far you can boss a friend around before it spoils a good time. Maybe your mom or sibling would come in and ask what’s up and you’d get to tell them the story unfurling from that box of dress-ups – or the falling out over it.

 

Handling things and fitting them together, changing in and out of clothing and imaginary scenarios, negotiating with a friend, parading around in your creation and imagining yourself as different than yourself, tattling to your mom and feeling heard, and having her talk with you about it: all those little movement and thought-filled moments develop your sense of self and your relationship with the things and people around you. All these iterations stretch creativity and develop imaginations. They deepen your capacity to learn and keep learning, taking you on to new developmental challenges and growth.

 

Children learn by touch and not by passively clicking a mouse. The screen experience lacks the touch, smell, human interaction with other child and adults, the one-to-one response, eye contact, facial expression voice and tone.

Something to think about every time we offer an iPad app to our child.

 

Ashani Hirway

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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: http://davincimontessori.com/the-problem-with-too-many-toys-the-kavanaugh-report/

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

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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.

She heard Syal’s memories of the small mining village, with few distractions, where she grew up.

Dr Belton said: “Lack of things to do spurred her to talk to people she would not otherwise have engaged with and to try activities she would not, under other circumstances, have experienced, such as talking to elderly neighbours and learning to bake cakes.

“Boredom is often associated with solitude and Syal spent hours of her early life staring out of the window across fields and woods, watching the changing weather and seasons.

“But importantly boredom made her write. She kept a diary from a young age, filling it with observations, short stories, poems, and diatribe. And she attributes these early beginnings to becoming a writer late in life.”

‘Reflection’

The comedienne turned writer said: “Enforced solitude alone with a blank page is a wonderful spur.”

While Perry said boredom was also beneficial for adults: “As I get older, I appreciate reflection and boredom. Boredom is a very creative state.”

And neuroscientist and expert on brain deterioration Prof Susan Greenfield, who also spoke to the academic, recalled a childhood in a family with little money and no siblings until she was 13.

“She happily entertained herself with making up stories, drawing pictures of her stories and going to the library.”

Dr Belton, who is an expert in the impact of emotions on behaviour and learning, said boredom could be an “uncomfortable feeling” and that society had “developed an expectation of being constantly occupied and constantly stimulated”.

But she warned that being creative “involves being able to develop internal stimulus”.

“Nature abhors a vacuum and we try to fill it,” she said. “Some young people who do not have the interior resources or the responses to deal with that boredom creatively then sometimes end up smashing up bus shelters or taking cars out for a joyride.”

‘Short circuit’

The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity”.

Syal adds: “You begin to write because there is nothing to prove, nothing to lose, nothing else to do.

“It’s very freeing being creative for no other reason other than you freewheel and fill time.”

Dr Belton concluded: “For the sake of creativity perhaps we need to slow down and stay offline from time to time.”

Authored by: Hannah Richardson.

Sourced from: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-21895704

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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.

Overwhelming

baby-with-toys

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.

Order

“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.

Stress

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.

Beauty

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. http://www.thekavanaughreport.com/
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Gentle parenting means no punishments and no rewards: just a partnership with your kids where they want to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. Shutterstock

Came across this piece that defines Positive Parenting. Parents who practise positive discipline or gentle parenting use neither rewards nor punishments to encourage their children to behave.

By “no rewards” I mean they don’t use charts or “bribes” such as lollies or toys. Many don’t even say “good girl/boy” or “good job”.

And by “no punishments” I mean they don’t use time-outs, smacking, shaming or yelling. Forget the naughty step, forget the sticker chart, let’s take a journey into the world of gentle or positive discipline, which aims to teach children empathy, self-control and calmness.

What is discipline?

Discipline has come to mean many things in our culture. When we are discussing child rearing, we understand it to mean reprimanding a child for “bad behaviour”. The word discipline comes from the word disciple and means to teach.

The discipline advocated by gentle parenting families is internalised. They argue that to offer rewards and punishments overrides a child’s natural inclination to try. It teaches them to behave in certain ways for a reward, or to avoid punishment.

Advocates of gentle parenting say that rewards and punishments do not encourage children to internalise good behaviour for its own sake.

What might this type of approach look like?

There are many websites and groups that can help you to practise this parenting approach. Here are a few steps that parents take to encourage a partnership with their children:

  1. They start from a place of connection and believe that all behaviour stems from how connected the child is with their caregivers.
  2. They give choices not commands (“would you like to brush your teeth before or after you put on your pyjamas?”).
  3. They take a playful approach. They might use playfulness to clean up (“let’s make a game of packing up these toys”) or to diffuse tension (having a playful pillow fight).
  4. They allow feelings to run their course. Rather than saying “shoosh”, or yelling “stop!”, parents actively listen to crying. They may say, “you have a lot of/strong feelings about [situation]”.
  5. They describe the behaviour, not the child. So, rather than labelling a child as naughty or nice, they will explain the way actions make them feel. For example, “I get so frustrated cleaning crumbs off the couch.”
  6. They negotiate limits where possible. If it’s time to leave the park, they might ask, “How many more minutes/swings before we leave?” However, they can be flexible and reserve “no” for situations that can hurt the child (such as running on the road or touching the hot plate) or others (including pets). They might say: “Hitting me/your sister/pulling the dog’s tail hurts, I won’t let you do that.”
  7. They treat their children as partners in the family. A partnership means that the child is invited to help make decisions and to be included in the household tasks. Parents apologise when they get it wrong.
  8. They will not do forced affection. When Uncle Ray wants to hug your child and s/he says no, then the child gets to say what happens to their body. They also don’t force please or thank you.
  9. They trust their children. What you might think of as “bad” behaviour is seen as the sign of an unmet need.
  10. They take parental time-outs when needed. Before they crack, they step away, take a breath and regain their composure.
The most important aspect of positive discipline is the connection you have with your child. Shutterstock

What are the benefits?

There are many sites that claim benefits to this approach. For example, Attachment Parenting International argues that the child is more sensitive to others’ needs because they have learnt to expect that their needs will be met, they will be treated with respect and they are equal partners in the family.

Others argue that it may take more effort, but is more effective, because punishment and rewards are only short-term solutions. As Alfie Kohnargues, using rewards and punishments is about doing things to, not withchildren. Taking a gentle parenting or positive discipline approach invites children to partner with their parents to learn how to live in the community as productive members.

What are the problems?

The problems people may see with this style of parenting generally stem from a problem of definition. Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Permissive parenting means never saying no, not provoking tantrums or crying and always wanting to please the child. This style of parenting is the antithesis of gentle parenting.

Sometimes parents who practise gentle parenting are described as sanctimommies. The term is meant to imply they are sanctimonious. However, the issue is generally with that individual parent, not their parenting style.

Gentle parenting also requires parental self-control, because you have to take a step back, think and ask, “What is my child’s behaviour communicating in this moment?” and, “What can I do differently to prevent this behaviour next time?”

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