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

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.

We Made It Through Hurricane Sandy

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 10:46 am | By Stephanie Woo

We were hit by Hurricane Sandy. We didn’t lose power or anything but school closed for three days. We were inside all day Monday. On Tuesday, the winds had died down somewhat but it was still pretty wet, windy and cold. That morning, I was cleaning in the kitchen when I looked over at the B and M – they had put on their jackets and shoes by themselves and were standing by the front door. Mackenzie was tugging on the door handle as hard as she can and whining. They were dying to get out.

So we did.

Actually, I love exposing the children to all sorts of weather. We go for walks twice a day – sun, rain or snow. It’s great for them to exercise their little bodies (studies show active children do better in school), breathe some fresh air and take advantage of the myriad language opportunities! Hurricane weather meant lots of fallen leaves and branches, overcast skies, big puddles and water dripping down pipes on the side of house. The whole thing turned out to be a great learning opportunity.

Toddlers can be so hardy. They slipped a few times because it was definitely wet and slippery out. But they stood up and kept on going. I wish there were more kids outside experiencing the after-effects of a storm, but we were the only ones out and about that morning.

Happily, school opened on Thursday. Phew, we made it!

How I talk to my children when I’m frustrated with them

Friday, October 26th, 2012 3:45 pm | By Stephanie Woo


Brooke cutting paper into tiny pieces at 10pm last night

Last night, Brooke wouldn’t go to sleep. I could tell she wasn’t tired, so I let her come out to play for a while (see picture above). By then Mackenzie was already asleep. When I took Brooke back to her room and tried to leave, she started crying. Not wanting to wake Mackenzie, I stayed with Brooke till she fell asleep at 1130pm. The whole ordeal took 3.5 hours. I was about to pull my hair out.

I woke up this morning extremely frustrated. Brooke came over to give me my usual morning hug and I said, “Who would not go to sleep last night?” Her hands dropped and she frowned. I then asked my nanny if Brooke was doing this during her afternoon naps, she said no, she always falls asleep quickly. Then I said, “But two nights ago you stayed with her till she fell asleep, right?” I added, “Brooke never did this before!” I could tell that my nanny got upset because she thought I was saying it was her fault that Brooke was doing this. What I really wanted, but could not get across, was my desperate need for a solution.

I went upstairs and cooled down. I could tell the way I was communicating was upsetting everyone. I was taking my frustration out on them, but it didn’t make me feel any better. And then I remembered Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication.  He said to communicate your feelings and your needs. I decided to give it a try.

I went downstairs, picked up Brooke and sat her on my lap. My nanny was there too, which was good because I wanted her to hear it too. I said, “Brooke, last night you did not go to bed by yourself. I was feeling extremely frustrated because I need my freedom at night. Do you know what ‘freedom’ means? Mama needs freedom at night. Tonight, would you be willing to go to sleep by yourself?”

These simple phrases changed the entire space in the room. My nanny, who looked glum and angry before, had a empathetic look on her face when she said, “I do always pick her up immediately when she cries. Maybe I should wait before picking her up and let her cry a little.” Oh, it was such a relief that she was trying to find a solution too.  

Upon reflection, I realize I love Non-Violent Communication because of the way it makes me feel and the reaction I see in others when they hear my words. I was able to 1. express my feelings 2. communicate my needs and 3. make a request. I also love being able to talk to my children in this way – it’s clear that they understand every word. This is the kind of communication and connectedness I want to foster in our home.

Brooke clearly had a need last night too.  Looking back, I realize we did not go to the park yesterday afternoon, so she wasn’t able to run, climb and use up all her excess energy. Today, I’ll make sure to meet her needs. Hopefully tonight, she’ll meet mine.

To learn more about Non-Violent Communication: