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

Toys and activities

See How Easily You Can Do Yoga with 3-Year-Olds!

Sunday, January 26th, 2014 2:59 am | By Stephanie Woo

With the help of an awesome set of yoga cards we got from my cousin, Daisy – featuring pictures of real children doing yoga, one pose on each card – B chooses Forward Bend as our first pose

B works her way into the Bow Pose

She does it!

Triangle Pose feels great!

M decides to join us in the Child’s Pose

What is yoga without Downward Dog?

We all lay down in Shavasana (Dead Man’s Pose)

We end in meditation. B concentrates hard to get the right hand mudra!

This yoga set is especially good because it features a real child doing yoga. This is better than drawn figures, which can be too abstract for young children. To find out more about this set of yoga cards, visit http://montessoribyhand.blogspot.com/2007/08/yoga-photos.html

How I Introduce Music and Movies to My 3-Year-Olds

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 2:52 pm | By Stephanie Woo

M’s first movie

Three months ago, I bought The Sound of Music soundtrack.

How do you introduce new songs to children? The best way is to start by telling a little story about each song.

The first song I played for them from the soundtrack was Doe Re Mi. Here’s how I introduced it: “I’m going to play a song for you. This is a song about a teacher who teaches seven children how to sing. Do you want to hear the song?” That little introduction connected them to the song immediately. 

The next day, I told them a brief story about My Favorite Things. I said,” I want to play another song for you. This is a song about the same teacher and the seven children I told you about yesterday. One night, there was a big thunderstorm and the children were scared. So the teacher sang this song to comfort them. Do you want to hear the song?” 

On another day I told the story about So Long, Farewell: “This is a Good Night Song. One day, the children’s father threw a big party in his house. All the children came to say good night to the guests and they sang this song.”

Children love stories. Each of these little stories gave them an entree into a particular song. This CD quickly became B and M’s all-time favorite and they asked for it in the car by saying things like, “Mama, I want to hear the Good-Night song.” 

During Christmas break, Mark and I decided to watch the movie. At first, they were not interested, but as soon as Julie Andrews started singing, they came flocking over.

I cannot tell you how amazing it was to watch their eyes light up when they heard their favorite songs performed on screen. They weren’t glued to the screen like zombies or scared by what was happening (both are common reactions when they watch children’s shows or cartoons). First they heard the story. Then they heard the music. Now, they are seeing it on screen with real children singing, dancing and performing. This gradual unfolding brought the whole experience together.

Children need guidance when it comes to movies. You can’t just turn it on and think it will entertain them. They may get scared of what they see because it’s happening so fast. Young children – sensorial learners that they are – cannot distinguish whether the characters and storyline they see are real or not. Or they may just get glued like zombies. Neither are good reactions. If you can break it down for them into bite-sized pieces, and add new dimensions over time as they assimilate each piece, then you are helping them understand their experience. Those developing intellects and imaginations need this kind of guidance.  

Here are 3 reasons why the Sound of Music is a great choice for a first movie:

  • It has real people in it (cartoons and imaginary characters are more confusing for young children)
  • The first half has a great a storyline young children can relate to
  • The music is beautiful, as is the cinematography. Because young children are absorbing everything about their environment, feed their little souls with as much beautiful things as you can! 

Raising a Disciplined Child (Or At Least One Who Listens!)

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 12:38 am | By Stephanie Woo

 

B dancing in her swimsuit

Recently, I’ve been obsessively reading Montessori books. I came upon a whole chapter on discipline in The Discovery of the Child, which I loved.

“One of the greatest difficulties in securing discipline lies in the fact that it cannot be obtained simply with words,” Montessori writes. Okay, so that’s the bad news. You can’t make a child do something just by telling him to do it. 

She writes, “To tell a child: ‘Stand still like me!’ does not enlighten him. One cannot by a simple command put order into the complex psycho-muscular system of a still growing individual.” Most of us think that if children aren’t doing what we ask because they are disobeying us, when in fact, most of the time, they are simply UNABLE to follow our commands. Their body and mind has not come together in such a way to be able to do what we ask, so our job then is to help them achieve this before expecting them to obey our commands.

Montessori breaks down obedience into three stages. In the first stage, the child cannot obey you. This child, usually between 0-2.5, is obeying the voice inside himself, you can also call it his ‘inner directive’ (if you know a toddler, then you know what she means).  In the second stage, the child would like to obey and seems to understand your command and wishes to obey, but he cannot obey, or rather, he does not always succeed in obeying, even if he wants to. This stage starts from 2.5 and lasts till about 4.5-5 years old. In the third stage, the child has perfected his self-control and is able to do what you ask. This doesn’t mean he always will, but he is physically and emotionally capable of obeying. So before 5 years old, a child either cannot obey you or wants to but cannot do it well. 

How often do you yell at your 5-and-under because you think they’re being bad on purpose? 

So how do you help a child learn to obey? She continues to write, “The first glimmerings of discipline have their origin in work. At a certain moment a child becomes intensely interested in some task. This is shown by the expression on his face, his intense concentration, and his constancy in carrying out the same exercise. Such a child shows that he is on the way to becoming disciplined.”  

Through work, the child is learning to bring together his body and mind, and through this process, he will achieve many things – one of which is being able to follow your commands.

So what can you do to help your child get here faster? 

First, you need to observe your children closely and see what they are interested in.  What do they like to do where they are not easily distracted? What tasks do they do with concentration and interest? Maybe they’re walking on that thin ledge on the sidewalk over and over. Maybe they’ve used up half the bottle of soap and still haven’t finished washing their hands. Maybe they’re putting on and taking off certain items of clothing over and over. Maybe they’re putting everything in their mouth and exploring. Well, until you’ve let them do those things over and over till they feel satisfied, getting them to do what you want them to do will be a struggle for you and them. 

The hardest part of this whole thing is not letting your own judgments get in the way. Maybe you don’t think their interest is worthy, maybe it’s very inconvenient for you to let them, maybe you have other concerns that tell you not to let them do those things. 

For example, it’s fall here in the Pacific NW and it is cold. But during this boots and jacket weather, Brooke (2 years 10 months old) spends more time putting on swimsuits than anything else. And it happens at the most inconvenient time. Like first thing in the morning when we are trying to get everyone out of the house by 730am. I’ve had to manhandle her out of her swimsuit into regular school clothes, with screams and tears, of course. She’s not interested in puzzles, learning her letters, painting or any of the myriad other activities I have out for her. No, she just wants to put on swimsuits – first the pink one, then the blue one, then the neon yellow one. And then all three, one on top of the other. It’s amazing how much time and concentration she spends on doing this everyday. 

So this is what I decided to do. 

On our work shelf, I created an activity called ‘going swimming.’ It includes everything you would need to go swimming, from swimsuits, t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, sunglasses, towels to tote bag. This is by far her favorite activity and four days later of almost nothing but changing into and out of swimsuits, there’s much less struggle getting ready in the mornings now. She even says to M, “We can’t put on swimsuits now because it’s for after school.” So much can get in the way in the mornings, but I’m happy swimsuits is no longer one of those things. 

What’s the bigger lesson in all of this? Trust your children. Follow their lead. Life will be so much easier.  

** Register for Stephanie’s next Toddler Course: Real Life Tools To Parent Your 1-Year-Old and 2-Year-Old With Ease! Find out more here