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

Live and love

From Caterpillars to Butterflies, Literally!

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 6:26 pm | By Stephanie Woo

A couple weeks ago, I ordered some caterpillars from Insect Lore, an online company my friend Shiying told me about. I love that you don’t have to worry about feeding the caterpillars because they come with all the food they need before turning into chrysalis. Our ‘cup’ of caterpillar arrived via UPS. I have to say watching the transformation of our five caterpillars was amazing – not only did the children love it, so did we!

Brooke examining our five hungry caterpillars.

After two weeks of eating nonstop, the caterpillars have attached themselves to the top of the cup, which could only mean one thing…

They’ve turned into chrysalis! Mark shows the children how to take the chrysalis out and tape it to the ‘butterfly garden,’ a large net for the butterflies to fly around in once they come out…

That’s our friend, five-year-old Gerren, who was super delighted watching the process, too!

10 days later…

After all the butterflies have emerged, we chose a special day and had a butterfly-releasing ceremony. B is holding one of the butterflies.

M coaxes her butterfly to take flight: Fly, butterfly, fly!

Your Brain, Your Child’s Brain and What To Do About It

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 5:50 pm | By Stephanie Woo

B rinsing a scrub brush with a garden hose

The young child has a brain different from ours – like, totally different. And yes, it’s scientifically-proven. 

Here’s an example: if given the right environment, children can learn 4 languages simultaneously, and understand all of them by the time he’s 3.  

Because we have different brains, we learn differently. Children absorb everything in their environment – effortlessly, easily, unconsciously. We, unfortunately, don’t learn that way.

One brain is not better than the other. But, as you can see, we are totally different. Here’s another example:

Children are sensorial learners. That means they learn through their senses. A child who rips a book is fascinated by the feeling of paper ripping and crumbling in his hands. A child puts his fingers in his drinking cup and swirls it around because he’s experimenting with water. A child making a mess at meals is because he’s learning how to eat. 

Now, from our point of view, as the parent who has to tape up the book, wipe up the water and clean up the mess (along with the six zillion other things we have to do as a parent), it could look like he’s screwing around, doing it on purpose, or maybe, he’s spoiled and ‘bad.‘ With our logical, rational adult minds, we make these kinds of assumptions. 

So there’s the child’s brain – and then there’s the adult brain. Two totally different brains, trying to co-exist.

Because the adult is bigger, Mom and Dad can dominate the child and physically remove him from anything they don’t want him doing. But the child! The child is driven to learn. In fact, that internal force is so strong, deep and instinctual, his whole existence depends on it. Therefore, just so you know, the next chance he gets, he’ll probably do it again. 

So we essentially have two choices. We can overpower the nature of the child (and watch those wrinkles and gray hair proliferate) OR we can align ourselves with it. 

Here’s what happened to me a while back. So it’s bathtime. B and M are playing in the tub with their various water containers, pouring water from one container to another. Well, someone came up with the bright idea of pouring water outside of the bathtub and onto the floor. The first time this happened, my husband came in yelling, “No water outside the bathtub!” then grabbed both of them out of the bath and ‘made them’ clean it up (except with two-year-olds, they love to clean and eagerly fetched the towels to clean – so it wasn’t the punishment Mark had in mind). Of course that didn’t stop them the next day (and the next), when we again, promptly took them out of the bath, shook our fingers at them and raised our voices to teach them a lesson. 

Until I realized this: they love water. They love pouring water. Trying to stop them is like trying to stop a seed from growing or the sun from coming out in the morning. 

So I decided to align myself with Nature instead. 

The next day, while the girls were in the bath, I took out a large empty garbage can and put it next to the bathtub. I told them, “If you want to pour water, you can pour it into the garbage can. See if you can do it without spilling any on the floor!” 

It worked. They immediately filled up that big garbage can with cups of bath water. Carefully, too. I then dumped out the water in the toilet. And then they proceeded to fill it up again. Before they were halfway through the second round, they had already lost interest and started playing with their sea animals.  

Children will want to play with water all the time. They will drip, dribble, grab and smear while eating. They will want to touch everything. They will run around and climb on everything. They will sing and talk loudly, even when it’s inappropriate. That is their Nature. You can come down on them, punish them, manipulate them, distract them (and I’ll admit, there are a few moments when you might need to do these things). But consider working with Nature, at least most of the time. Find creative ways for them to get their needs met. They are going to follow their nature, whether you like it or not. So find a way so they CAN do the things they want to do: let them walk around freely in a new environment and touch things (they are capable of learning how to stay away from danger and handle fragile things), give them something they can climb on in the house, give them stacks of paper to rip, let them play with water that extra 20 minutes at the sprinklers/sink/bathtub, etc. 

When you hear yourself saying, “No!” or “Don’t do that!” mostly, I suspect, it’s because you’re not aligned with the Nature of the child. So whatever you’ve got to do, figure out a way to align yourselves, my friends. It’s your path to peace and sanity.

**To read a free excerpt of my new book, Raising Your Twins: Real Life Tips to Parenting with Ease (Without Kicking Your Spouse to the Curb), click here and download it to your Kindle or to your computer. Look for the “Try It Free” box!

What We Started Doing After the Montessori Congress

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 6:39 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Lately, I’ve been uninspired. I’ve done everything with my children that I learned during my 0-3 training and they’re ready to move on. I start my AMI 3-6 training at Montessori Institute Northwest in September, but that seemed like eons away. I needed new ideas NOW.

Was it fate or a coincidence that the 2013 International Montessori Congress took place here in Portland OR, just 15 minutes from our home? AND it was a huge inspiration. The theme was Montessori: Guided by Nature. The most memorable parts of the Congress for me were the really cool people I met, Vandana Shiva’s closing presentation and Rusty Keeler‘s “Playscape”, an amazing play space made entirely out of simple, natural materials one can find anywhere.

After those five days, I was enlivened. I felt inspired to bring more nature into our lives. So we did just that. 

For starters, we simply took more walks in nature. Here’s one that we took with my friend, Brenda, and her 5-year-old daughter, Gerren. Little did I know that Brenda, being a native Washingtonian, was a total naturalist – and she led us to amazing little treasures at Hoyt Arboretum, a forest right next to our house…

Our fearless naturalist and leader, Brenda, foraging for goodies

Did you know there was something called Thimbleberries? A tiny little red fruit that tastes delicious!

 A handful of thimbleberries – gone in 2 seconds

Look at those loaded wild blackberry bushes! And they are free! 

Delicious blackberries

What?! You can eat these?

This valley of wild flowers belongs in a storybook. But Gerren doesn’t know that – she’s right at home prancing through the fields of blossoms! And they aren’t just pretty…

Look what they come with – wild sweet peas!

M ates pods after pods of these tiny peas. Definitely the most amount of raw veges she’s ever consumed in one sitting. Good for practicing that pincer grasp, too.

Dandelions!

Nature walks would not be complete without slugs. And Brenda spots one right next to our car. She finds leaves for transplanting the slug to a new home.

Everyone gets an close-and-personal opportunity to pet the slug

Gerren demonstrates how to handle a slug with care. She lays it down on a patch of grass, faraway from the roads, where it can be safe.. 

We’ve done lots of other ‘nature’ activities since the Congress that I will share in the upcoming weeks. For those of you out there who attended the Congress, what have you been doing differently?