Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Live and love

Video: Operating a CD Player

Monday, November 12th, 2012 6:01 pm | By Stephanie Woo
M listening to music on Muji CD Player

Mackenzie listening to music on her Muji CD Player

I was introduced to the Muji CD player by my friend Seiko, during my Montessori training. It was an expensive purchase but really worth it. It’s nice to look at, compact and easy to operate – pull the string once to start, pull again to stop (see video below).

If you purchase it, make sure your children have developed good impulse control. Then give them several clear demonstrations on how to use it. Just a warning, they may break it. The way I see it, everything I prepare in our environment ultimately belongs to the children and I’m prepared for accidents. Besides if it breaks, they are the ones who really experience the consequence.

As you can see in the picture, each CD is labeled with a picture of an instrument: harp, guitar, cello and violin. On the CD, I’ve included music of the corresponding instrument. This way, they can choose which instrument they want to listen to and begin to recognize the sound that instrument makes. They definitely prefer string over woodwind, though they are warming to brass instruments. I love the independence this little machine gives them. They can now play music anytime they want and not a day will go by without a little classical music in our household.

Never underestimate what the youngest children can and will appreciate – their love for music, art and beauty never ceases to astound and inspire me.

‘Follow the Child’ On a Walk in the Park

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 4:04 pm | By Stephanie Woo

We go to the park for a walk almost everyday. It’s a time I let them be as free as possible. Generally, I don’t limit them to a certain part of the park and instead, my nanny and I each watch one so they can choose where they want to go. I want them to explore nature, so I like to let them loose where there are many opportunities to observe animals, smell flowers and people-watch. The girls are now 17 months.

We arrive at the park. I unbuckle them and let them get off the stroller by themselves. I try not to do anything for them that they can do by themselves.

Brooke immediately heads to one side of the park where the flowers are,

climbs over the low fence…

to smell the flower.

Mackenzie is with my nanny where she is walking around with her toys

She picks up a plastic cap. I’m pretty sure it’s disgustingly dirty, but I try not to run over, scream and whack it out of her hands, like I want to. Instead, I just watch.

Here is the cap – is it going in her mouth?

Not this time, thank god. As I breathe a sigh of relief, I tell her ‘good job’ for throwing trash in the trash can. If I give in to my fears everytime she touches something dirty and freak out, then she really cannot be free during our walks, and neither can I.

Brooke tells my nanny she wants something to eat

I tell the nanny to give her the whole bag and tell her to get it herself

It takes her a while to rustle through the bag. My nanny and I look at each other. I’ve trained her (and myself) to not rush to help her, even though we can do it so much faster than she can.

She finally wrestles it out of the bag. Mackenzie reaches for some too.

She takes a piece and I ask her to give me the rest

As we sit and eat, she makes the signs for “music” and

Mackenzie makes the sign for ‘bird.’ Together, they mean, “The birds are singing.” So we sit to enjoy a bit of music before moving on.

I follow Mackenzie around. Here she spots someone stretching…

Brooke plays on a patch of grass. When she is done, rather than picking her up, I tell her to “Get up by yourself.”

She does.

Observing some squirrels. We live in NYC. The animals are limited.  *sigh*

A nice lady lets us pet her dog. Brooke loves it and Mackenzie doesn’t. I let Brooke do it and leave Mackenzie alone. She doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to.

It’s time to go home. They climb in the stroller by themselves and sit as we buckle them in. That’s it for us today. Till tomorrow!

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Toddler

Saturday, May 12th, 2012 2:38 pm | By Stephanie Woo

This morning, Mackenzie was crying and attached to my leg, so to distract her, I took out a mandarin orange for her to peel. She immediately stopped crying, sat down on her chair and began peeling. It’s not easy task for a 17 month old. She was using so much force pulling the skin off the orange that the rest of her body was shaking. Being a mom, my heart hurt watching her work so hard, but the Montessorian in me knew that I shouldn’t interfere, so I bit my tongue and kept quiet. Bit by bit, she peeled the entire thing by herself. I said to her, with relief in my voice, “Now you can eat it!” Brooke came over. Mackenzie immediately handed her the peeled orange and looked up at the bag of unpeeled orange, holding her hand out for another one to peel.

Just like my mother, Ms. Lam, told me, children around 1 1/2 – 3 years old, are not working for a reward of any kind. The reward is the work itself. This is so important: THE REWARD IS THE WORK ITSELF. What’s the biggest gift you can give your toddler? Watch what they’re interested in doing, give it to them, then leave them alone to do it for as long as they like without interrupting them! Don’t talk to them, don’t say, “good job,” don’t try to help them or correct them, do not even look at them. It might be climbing up and down the stairs, or pouring water from one thing into another, or digging sand, or ripping up a piece of paper, or lying there singing the same song over and over, it doesn’t matter what it is. Just let them work. This is so simple, yet so hard, for a parent to do. But I assure you it is the best gift you can give them to prepare them for the future. Concentration, coordination, self-discipline – you cannot pay enough money to give your child these things down the line!


This video was taken the week before…