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

All Ages

What Is Your Child Eating At School?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 11:38 am | By Stephanie Woo

What's For Lunch?

I want my children to eat well. I feel strongly about this and I think most parents would agree. 

In the last 18 months, my children have attended 3 different schools: a Montessori school in Portland, Montessori summer school in Taiwan and a public school in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve witnessed three completely different food environments in these schools, and the impact they had on my children. I’d like to share this experience with you. I’ll be blunt and tell you the list starts with my least favorite. 

NYC Public School

NYC Public school offers breakfast and lunch for the children. For families in need, this is wonderful. It’s even a service for busy parents who don’t have time to think about these things. 

Now, let’s see what’s on the menu? Items like bagels, french toast and pancakes are served for breakfast. Chicken tenders, sloppy joe and mozzarella sticks for lunch. Here’s a link of the NYC public school menu for the month.

We decided to try the school lunch on the first day. B and M told me they had chicken (great!) with ketchup (uh-oh…knowing my children, they probably had ketchup as the main course) and chocolate milk (they’ve never had chocolate milk). After a meal of high fructrose corn syrup (main ingredient in ketchup) and sugar (main ingredient in chocolate milk), I immediately asked the teacher if they can bring their own lunches moving forward. 

But the sweets didn’t stop there. A birthday happened last week, and they came home telling me they had cupcakes and candy. And then it was chocolate milk and cookies on another day (“I only had 2!”). And then yesterday, they took a field trip to the supermarket and all the children got Halloween goodie bag with candy bars. 

They’ve never had a snicker bar before. Not a fun size. Not even a bite. I decided to let them have one on our way home because they wanted it so badly. Well, after M finished a fun-size snicker bar, she threw the biggest tantrum on the street I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if this is an accident, but there sure seemed like a correlation between that sugar high and her behavior. 

Montessori School in Portland, OR

This is a great private Montessori school, with AMI-trained guides and assistants.

The school does not provide lunch, only snack. Everyone brings their own lunch. We had very specific instructions in the beginning of the year that children are not allowed to bring candy or cookies in their lunch. The teacher also asked us to help conserve waste, so we were asked not to bring individually-wrapped cheese, individual yogurt containers, etc. 

Children had snack in the morning and the afternoon. They were served pistachios (a great choice in my opinion because it takes great fine motor movement to open pistachios), almonds, banana chips, pumpkin seed, carrots, sliced oranges, apples and pretzel sticks. The children helped prepare some of these. There did not seem to be great variety, but children did not seem to mind. They developed a taste for these things and asked for them at home as well. For me, those snacks were great choices. 

Ms. Lam Montessori School in Taipei, Taiwan

This school provides lunch, morning and afternoon snack everyday for the children and teachers. From what I understand, a few other Taiwanese pre-schools also offer menus like this. 

Here’s the lunch menu for the first week of October:

Monday – Wild Mushroom Risotto Cream and Carrot soup.
Tuesday – Sweet and Sour fish, Bean Sprouts with Fried Leek, and Turnip Ribs soup.
Wednesday – Curry Chicken Rice (with Raisins and Soft Boiled Eggs) and Boscht.
Thursday – Apple Egg Salad on Toast with Potato, Carrot and Cucumber, and Corn Soup.
Friday – Noodles with Soy Bean Paste and Meat Ball Soup.

That’s just Week One. 

Snack includes items like home made egg cake, boiled tea eggs, rice balls, green bean soup. 

Click here to see what’s on the menu the rest of the month. 

If you’re saying to yourself, my children would never eat those things, well, that’s what I thought too! But here’s what happened to us. Before Taiwan, for over a year, the only green things my children would eat were avocados and grapes. Any other green thing we got into their bodies was through hiding it, blending it with apple/pineapple juice or through sheer luck that ended the next day. Eating green vegetables was a struggle that I lost nearly everyday. Until they started going to school in Taiwan. 

It began one day when they saw stir-fried spinach on the dinner table, B said, “We eat that at school, too!” And then proceeded to eat big bites of it (along with rice, fish, soup, etc). They would say things like, “I love to eat broccoli!” And fight over who gets the last one on the plate. Since Taiwan, eating vegetables is no longer a struggle in this house. Last night, we had marinated cucumbers. B looked in the bowl and said, “I want the biggest one.”

I don’t know how their teachers did this. I would hug and kiss them if it were appropriate. I’m immensely grateful, to say the least.

Young children have the Absorbent Mind. This means they unconsciously absorb everything in their environment easily and effortlessly. This includes food. If you give them chocolate and candy, they will eat that. If you give them fruits and nuts, they will eat that. If you give them gourmet meals with wild mushroom risotto and carrot soup, they will eat that.

I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on all of this. What do your children eat at school? How does it impact their food choices at home? Please share! 

Our Plans for Summer & Fall 2014

Monday, March 31st, 2014 9:39 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Pictures from the summer school we’ll be attending in Taiwan

So much has happened recently, sometimes I don’t know where to begin to share with you all! So I thought I’d give you a brief overview of what we’ve been up to, including our plans for the summer and fall. 

My husband and I are in the final stretch of our training (I’m doing my Primary training 3-6 and he is doing Elementary training 6-12). We will both be student teachers for the next month at one of the best Montessori schools in Portland and then it will be exam time! There is only one word for these AMI Montessori trainings: INTENSE. And to do it with twin 3-year-olds while consulting clients on evenings and weekends…well, it hasn’t been easy. However, it has forced me to do a lot of soul-searching and transformation to become someone who can handle all of this stress! So in that sense, it’s been a great experience. 

This summer, we will be going back to Taiwan. B and M will be attending summer school at Taipei Montessori School. I am sooo excited about this. The program looks AMAZING. I’m not just saying this because I have family ties with that school. Seriously, I’ve looked into so many summer schools these last two years and this one has the best program I’ve seen. 

Summer school starts on June 16th. It runs from 830-4pm Monday through Friday. There is the Montessori work cycle in the morning, followed by extracurricular activites everyday, like Taekwondo, Taiko drumming, mosaic art, cooking, music, gymnastics etc. Afternoons are all cultural extension activities, which means, they explore Taiwanese, Aborigine and the larger Asian cultures through art, music, books, plays and other hands-on, sensorial activities. There will also be outings, including swimming, once a week.

I’m so excited for B and M to finally get fully immersed in a Chinese-speaking environment! I hope some of you will come and spend the summer with us in Taipei. Even if your child doesn’t speak any Chinese, they will learn so quickly. That is the power of the young child’s Absorbent Mind when it comes to language. There are lots of Caucasian children who attend this school and it always shocks me to hear perfect Chinese come out of them! For more information, click here for English and here for Chinese.

Here’s the big news:

Next fall, we will be moving to the Bay Area in California, where we will be starting a Montessori Chinese Immersion school. We don’t have the official name yet, or the exact location, but the details are in the works! It will be a Primary program accepting children between 2.5 – 6 years old. Our anticipated opening date is Jan of 2015. I hope some of you who live out there will come by to check us out!

B and M are now 3 years 3 months and growing fast. They attend a Montessori school here in Portland. I’ve got more updates about them coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned…

Cleaning Up Before the New Year

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 8:11 pm | By Stephanie Woo

In the Chinese tradition, the days before the New Year is when everyone pitches in to help thoroughly clean the home.

For weeks now, I’ve been uninspired by our playroom. The endless number of stains on the carpet were getting worse, as were the watercolor and glue stains on the shelves. We’ve had the same pictures on the wall for a year. And it’s been at least six months since I last wiped the windows.  It was time to rally the troops and do something about it! 

Brooke (3 years, 0 months) helps Dad roll up the old carpet. Time to replace it with the clean carpet in the garage. 

M cleans the chalkboard with water and a rag

B sprays and wipes down the marker and glitter stains on the table

Toys in the garage needed some cleaning, too. B scrubs…

and M wipes. A bucket of soapy water, a hand brush and some rags (pictured) were all they needed.

Voila! Our newly-inspired playroom. Of course I took this picture while the children were out – and tidied up beforehand. The toys on the shelf were mostly chosen by the girls. The ones they don’t want to play with anymore are stored in the garage. 

Thanks to my husband, our shelves were re-sanded and stain-free. The pictures on the wall are old calendar pictures I’ve reframed, but they feel new!

The day after we put in the new carpet, M noticed a speck on the carpet, pointed it out and then went to get the vacuum. It’s inevitable that carpets, chalkboards, shelves, trays, etc will get dirty. Children are children, after all. They can help maintain it, but when it reaches the point where it just can’t be cleaned anymore, replace it. It will bring fresh, vibrant energy into the home and everyone takes better care of things that are clean and new.

Happy New Year, everyone! May your 2014 be filled with Beauty, Happiness and Inspiration!