Thursday, October 11th, 2012 10:26 am | By Stephanie Woo
Since we cook rice at home 5-6 days a week, it was great for B and M to learn to make something they eat and experience so regularly. This video was taken over the summer in Denver, when Daisy, my cousin and Montessori teacher of 10 years, came to stay with us. B and M are 19 months here.
Nowadays, I just put the rice cooker at a height they can reach, let one child pour the rice (which I’ve pre-measured and placed in a bowl) and another child pour the water (also premeasured and placed in a pitcher). And then one person gets to close the lid and the other gets to press the ‘on’ button. If you give them the right set-up (rice cooker plugged in, pre-measured rice and water), they can learn to do this on their own without you!
Montessori says, don’t give children ‘pretend’ work because they like real work so much better (this surprised her, she thought it would be the other way around!). Well, this work is easy, real and VERY practical.
P.S. Before this point, they’ve been primarily exposed to Chinese. Notice how much they love pronouncing those new English words. Children at this age just love and soak up language. More on language later.
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 12:09 pm | By Stephanie Woo
There’s usually something I’m cooking that day the children can help with. Or I will find items they can cut or peel and cook with those. Preparing food gives the child opportunities for concentration, developing fine motor control and you can see in those eager eyes just how much they want to participate in family life.
They get so much joy when they get to explore something new and REAL, like the whole corn – husk and all!
This requires maximum effort! Unlike adults, young children love to feel the full capacity of their bodies
Celery can be seriously hard to cut, but when you arm children with the right gear, it’s no problem
Zucchinis cut easily and can be a great place for your toddler to start practicing using a knife
M helps peel a baked purple sweet potato for us at the family table – absolutely delicious!A child can start using a knife as soon as they have the motor skills to do so, but don’t let your apprehension get in the way of letting him/her try. It’s not so different from teaching them to use a pair of scissors (watch the video here). The right presentation goes a long way. Make sure YOU are always holding the handle with both hands when presenting this to the child, because they will do it the way you do it.
The right material is key for your toddler, make sure you consider the size, weight and feel of each item before purchasing it. Here’s where I bought mine:
Knife: Joie makes the best cutter/knife I’ve found for toddlers. The size of the handle is perfect for their little hands. As long as they are holding the handle and cutting with both hands, it’s difficult for them to cut themselves but of course, an adult should be supervising at all times. You can buy it at Bed Bath and Beyond or here:
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 11:16 am | By Stephanie Woo
Daisy, with B and M, at the Denver Zoo
If you’re wondering what a good Montessori teacher looks like, here is a glimpse of my cousin, Daisy. She is AMI-trained, has 10 years of experience, but her most admirable quality is her constant search to becoming a better Montessori teacher. She came to stay with us for 8 days while we were in Denver and in that short time, she transformed my girls. Before she came, putting things away and cleaning were a hit-and-miss in our house, but while she was with us, it was a constant.
I think this video is remarkable. In 16 short minutes, you will see B and M (19 months here) cleaning crumbs off the floor, clearing the plates and utensils, wiping their table mats, wiping the table, putting things away and washing their hands. But what you will experience is how Daisy asks them to do these things with patience and gentleness. Her language and tone are masterful – never a hint of impatience, aggression or threat no matter what the children do. She is engaged, matter-of-fact and completely present with the child’s process. If you’ve ever encountered a toddler who doesn’t do what you ask him to and you don’t know what to do about it, watch this video and learn!
This video was shot in July 2012. It is 16 minutes and 8 seconds. Here are some video highlights:
00:00 M cleaning up crumbs with a carpet sweeper
00:39 M puts carpet sweeper and chair away
1:47 Daisy asks M to put her dishes away. M walks away. Watch how Daisy handles this.
3:45 B says she’s done eating, then says she wants more. What would you say to her?
5:31 Daisy gives M the space she needs to take care of herself
5:55 B starts putting dishes in the dirty dish basket. Watch how Daisy directs her.
7:06 Toddler needs a lot of collaboration from the adult. This is how it’s done.
7:18 M starts to take cereal out of the box. Ever encounter a toddler doing something totally different than what you asked?
8:21 B drops things in the basket loudly. Watch how Daisy models putting things away quietly and how B imitates her
9:01: Daisy asks B if she would be willing to help put M’s stuff away.
10:20 All plates and bowls are now in the basket
10:44 M wipes the placemats
12:15 Puts wiping sponge away
12:20 Puts placemat away
12:51 Daisy asks M to wipe the table
13:21 B starts to play music in the background and distracts M. What to do?
13:43 Daisy asks M to put the cleaning basket away
13:55 Time to wash hands!
16:08 The end
To learn more about Daisy’s Montessori school in San Francisco, click here.