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

Posts Tagged ‘gross motor skills’

Which Is Better: Man-Made or Natural?

Friday, May 31st, 2013 12:47 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Recently, I took some photos of B and M sliding, dangling, climbing and swinging on the playground and in the forest. How is a child’s consciousness shaped by playing on man-made swings and slides VERSUS dangling on living trees and sliding down dirt slopes in a forest? 

I can’t put my finger on it, but it really does feel very different, doesn’t it? For one, nature is continuously changing. The slopes gets muddy after a rainstorm. The tree branches will bend and give when you climb on it. For me, having that connection to earth, trees and nature expands our consciousness in a way that metal and plastic play structures don’t do. What differences do you see?

Sliding down a slide vs. sliding down a particularly steep slope in the forest

Dangling on monkey bars vs. a dangling on a tree

Climbing on a metal play structure vs. climbing a tree

Swinging at the park vs. bobbing up and down on limber tree branches

Make It Hard for Them!

Friday, May 17th, 2013 6:34 pm | By Stephanie Woo

 Climbing a big hill in Baltimore’s Federal Hill park (2 years old)

When Brooke was 11-months old, she loved climbing stairs. Twice a day, I would let her loose in the staircase of our four-story building and she never looked back till she was at the top. When Mackenzie was cruising at 12-months old, I would take her and her red wagon around a whole NYC block. When both of them started walking, we would go for long walks in the park without a stroller.  

Children are born to adapt. Mexican children can eat hot green pepper off the vine without feeling any pain. A Himalayan child is used to climbing big mountains. An African child can see and run long distances. 

Knowing this, I try to give my toddlers lots of active, physical experiences that push their bodies. I let them experience many different terrains and even try to make it hard for them. Big hills, 1-2 mile treks, difficult hikes – even our driveway is unusually steep, which means walking up and down everyday takes extra effort. 

I’m not trying to train Olympians here. I just gives them experiences and observe how they respond. Before they turned two, I took them up the big hill in the Federal Hill Park in Baltimore. They fell and slip so many times, but they never gave up. By the time we reached the top, I was completely out of breath and swore I would never do that again. But when we reached the bottom, all they wanted was to climb up again. And again. Who knew they would love conquering big hills so much? That steep climb quickly became part of our weekly routine. 

The other day, I told B and M, “Today, we are going to climb a mountain.” At the end of the 7-mile paved hike (they were in the stroller for part of it), I asked, “Did you enjoy climbing the mountain?” Brooke said, “Brooke didn’t climb mountain.” She then pointed to a really steep hill in the distance and say, “I want to climb that mountain!” Walking on a paved road did not qualify as mountain climbing to her! 

Toddlers have way more physical stamina than you can imagine. To them, the upward climb is the most interesting part of a walk and that interest keeps them going. So find terrains that challenge them. Make it hard for them. And start them as young as possible! You’d be surprised how far they can go. 

Trekking in the woods behind our house, which was overgrown and had no path before we arrived (2 years 4 months)

Walking on a stone path with big, uneven stones in Portland’s Japanese Garden (2 years 2 months)

Indoor wall climbing gym (2 years 2 months)

How DO You Create The Best Home Environment for Your Child?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 4:24 pm | By Stephanie Woo
B and M Making Eggs In the Kitchen (25 months old)

B and M Making Scrambled Eggs (25 months old)

In the last two weeks, I’ve given two talks and done many private Skype and home consultations. I’ve received overwhelmingly beautiful thank-you emails. People used words like “eye-opening” “really impacted me” “a Montessori angel,” “a billion thank-you’s.” My favorite stories are things like, “Even in the few days since your talk, I’ve noticed him responding really well to increased chances at independence,” or “She received a doll a few months ago and have been astounded by the way she cares for her “baby,” so I thought another role playing toy would be great. I wasn’t thinking that she can actually peel, cut, mix, etc. using real foods, and learn by doing rather than pretending!”

Because I know my clients also read my blog, if you sent me an email, I sincerely want to thank you for your kind words and taking the time to write what you did.

Now can I tell you the best part about all this? It’s my own experience of certainty and joy. I am more certain than ever that the best home environment is one of the most important things you can do for your child.  Parents spend so much hard-earned money on daycare, swim class, nannies and all sorts of products at Toys R Us (I’m guilty as charaged). But home is where your child spends the most amount of time. A child can go into the kitchen 20 times a day. How do you set-up a kitchen so that your child can feel ownership and work on his organizational skills?  Does he have a way to access a towel or tissue to wipe his face? Can he reach the bread and peanut butter to make himself a snack? Can he get a drink of water without asking for help? We want an environment where the child can take care of his own needs based on his own timeline and according to his own rhythm. Lucky for us, when he is taking care of his own basic needs, he’s also working on those critical skills we most want him to have: self-discipline, organization, gross and fine motor skills, self-confidence and executive skills. Why buy him a toy to exercise these things, when he can learn it from setting his own table everyday?

So, how do you do this? How can you create this for your child, too?

After my morning consultation session, I came downstairs and proclaimed to my husband: “I love my job!” I get to work with the most well-intentioned parents whose love for their children move me everyday. Parents are just looking for some advice, tips and methods that work. The Montessori Method works. Other methods may work as well, but now that you’re here, you need look no further.

For more information, please visit my Private Consultation page. Together, let’s create the best home environment for your child to learn and grow.