Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Less-Words Wednesday: Camping with Friends

  We've been fortunate recently to get to take lots of short trips and explore our area and the outdoors.  This past weekend, we went camping with several other families.  Despite the months-long drought, it rained nearly the entire time! As you can see, Q-ball was able to fall into the river prior to rainfall. Fortunately, there was a nice house on the property for eating and cleaning up. Sleeping in the rain in a leak-free tent is rather calming, especially if Daddy is the one cleaning up the tent in the pouring rain!

Still dry.

Still dry, but getting closer to the water.

Still dry.

WET! (Why does Mama always leave the towels and swimsuits at the campsite?!?)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Montessori Closet and the Importance of Order

    About two weeks ago, I introduced Q-ball to her own Montessori closet.  I had been waiting for the right time to do this, and it seemed to have presented itself.  I had noticed that she was starting to be much more forceful in sharing her opinions- where to sit when we read, what diaper she wanted to wear (she really likes the cow design), what clothes she wanted to wear, and even what she wanted me to wear.  Additionally, she regularly cleans up after herself and enjoys helping me with household chores.  

  The design is simple- one I've seen on several other Montessori blogs.  I just placed a shower row at her level in her closet and use child size hangers for her clothes.  We hang everything but her shorts which are in a basket on the closet floor.   It took her a few minutes to figure out how to hang up the hangers and how to make sure that all of the hangers face the same direction, but now she's got it!

   Her closet has allowed me to reflect upon the two main principles of Dr. Montessori's approach that drew our family to it in the first place: 1) a child's freedom of choice and 2) a child's amazing ability to master (and enjoy!) practical life skills.  
   Q-ball has loved selecting her own clothing. It's true- sometimes we change clothes once or twice in a day because it's so exciting.  And, sometimes it takes much longer than if I just grabbed a shirt and put it on her. (In cases when we are in a hurry, I help by offering her two choices or quickly closing the closet door after she has selected one shirt.)  But, she really enjoys the process and has even started telling me stories about the different shirts or works to describe them with sign language.
   As for practical life skills, Q-ball is by my side when it is time to put up laundry.  She happily hangs up all of her clothes- very deliberately making sure all of the hangers are in the correct position.  This is important as she starts to enter what Dr. Montessori has identified as the sensitive period for order.  During this time, children between 2 and 4 love routines, consistency, and repetition.  Additionally, they are learning to respect their environment by maintaining a neat, orderly appearance.  I especially like how Lillard and Jessen explain the importance of order in their book Montessori from the Start, "...the reward of giving order is ordered thought.  Ordered thought can lead to simplifying what may appear at first to be an overwhelming task and transforming it into a manageable, even enjoyable, one."

Lillard, P.P. & Jessen, L.L. (2003). Montessori from the start: The child at home, from birth to age three. Random House: NY.
Linking up with  Montessori Monday

Friday, September 14, 2012

Disequilibrium at the Half-Year

   As Q-ball very quickly approaches 18 months of life, I am reminded of what I consider to be yet another fascinating observation by Gesell. 
    By observing over 10,000 infants and children, Gesell concluded that all children go through predictable stages of development, but the timing (starting points and length) are specific to each child.  The stages are composed of periods of equilibrium  and disequilibrium.  As you may imagine, the periods of disequilibrium can be tough on the child. Rapid growth and development can lead to issues with eating, sleeping, and behavior.  Consequently, these times can also be rough on parents.  And guess what Gesell's first period of disequilibrium is?  18 months!  
     As you can see in the diagram below, Gesell's stages of development progress in a spiral pattern- the periods of disequilibrium happening around the half-year and the periods of equilibrium occurring at the year mark.    
Photo credit:
    So, what behaviors can I expect around this time period?
  • Difficult, impatient (occasionally)
  • Frustrated when she can’'t communicate, cries or tantrums when not understood (I can see the frustration, but luckily we don't have too many tantrums.)
  • Can'’t make body do what she wants (I really haven't observed this.)
  • Can'’t do what she is asked, if she doesn't ’want to do it (Hmm....this is an interesting idea. I've always thought of reluctance to do something you don't want to do as a choice. I certainly see that she is starting to exert her opinions about what we do and don't do.)
  If your child is hitting a "half-year" and you've noticed some out of character behaviors, don't despair!  He'll will swing back to equilibrium in no time!

Halverson, L.& Guddemi, M. (2008). Stages of development: Ages 2 to 7.  Retrieved from
Understanding your child: A development point of view. (n.d.) The Gesell Institute. Retrieved from

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Language and Critical Thinking
More pictures from our hike.

Interactions with Materials
  • Q-ball loves balls.  She sees pictures of buttons, smiley faces, any circles and immediately gets very excited about the "ball."  She also loves when her fun Daddy comes home and will play ball with her.
  • She is starting to start pretend play more- just small things like "drinking" out of an empty cup. 
Interactions with Others
  • Last week at church Q-ball started pointing toward the nursery, so Daddy took her to try the nursery expereince again.  But, it pretty much resembled the previous experiences in the nursery filled with tears and instances of separation anxiety despite the fact that Daddy is sitting in the corner.  Over the past few months, I have been saying "bye-bye" to items when we have to clean up or if Q-ball has gotten into something that is probably better left alone.  Well, she has really started to catch on.  At the nursery, if she happened to make eye contact with the caregiver, she was scream, "BAH!  Bye-bye! Bye-bye!" in what seemed to be attempt to make the caregiver disappear. 
Critical Thinking
  • Q-ball is starting to expand her two-word phrases using different methods of communication. For example, at our park day, she saw some older girls playing with a toy horse.  We headed for the other side of the park as the toys were just too tempting for a toddler passerby and she looked at me and communicated "play (using sign language) horse (saying neigh)."
Interactions with Life 
  • I haven't mentioned much with potty learning as I am considering doing a post writing about our whole journey.  But, as that may never happen, I'll share some info here.  Q-ball has become obsessed with potties. She instructs me to go "potty" using sign language and the verbal cue "psss..." frequently throughout the day.  She, of course, does not want to go potty herself- she just watches me and helps me get toilet paper and then tells me to wash my hands and then to dry them.  Also, she is now on the lookout for potential potties in public places we visit.  If she locates one, she tells me to go potty there.  At last weeks LLL meeting, she dragged me to the potty 3 times in about an hour.  And, she dragged me to every other closed door that she suspected to be a potty.  Luckily, I drink lots of water...
 We are linking up with Vibrant Wanderings.  See what the other kiddos are up to here! 
To see the rational and purpose for the Watch Her Grow series, please check out this post!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Less-Words Wednesday: Little Rebel

  Since we have set up Q-ball's Montessori inspired closet (since the camera has not yet made it that way--basically all clothes are at her level, so she picks out her outfits), she has loved picking out this "Little Rebel" shirt.  It has worked especially well the past few days as a face-first tumble left her with scratches all over one side of her face.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Child's Love of Nature

    In The Discovery of the Child, Dr. Montessori discusses a child's natural love of nature and beautifully describes how nature inspires a child.  I strive to give Q-ball at least a little outdoors time everyday, but being in a stroller or playing in our restricted backyard allows only limited nature interaction.  So, we found a nearby-by nature trail and decided to explore.
   Watching Q-ball, I was able to see so many of Dr. Montessori's descriptions and stories in action!  "Normal babies," she writes, "even when less than two years of age...can walk for miles."  How true! Q-ball could not be stopped!  She also recounts a story of a young couple struggling to carry their infant as they wanted to walk some distance.  Finally, they placed him on the ground, and he happily completed the journey himself.  As you can see in our pictures, we had Q-ball in a carrier for the rockier part of our hike, but we finally released her, and after that, she led the way!
   Dr. Montessori goes on to say, "The feeling for Nature grows with exercise, like everything else; it is certainly not strengthened by us through descriptions or exhortations made pedantically to the child who is listless and bored by being shut within walls..." 
   Given this idea, it's lucky that we have a camping trip planned for next weekend!

To read another post highlighting the importance of nature within a Montessori learning environment, check out How to Garden with a Toddler.

Linking Up with Montessori Monday

Montessori, M. (2004). The discovery of the child. Akkar Books:Delhi.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Language and Critical Thinking

Interactions with Materials

Q-ball has started practicing pushing the swings herself. And a look at her curls!
  • As it was the first of the month, it was time to rotate toys, so Q-ball is always in love with all of the new (or at least out of sight for quite awhile) materials.  One new item that she is enjoying is an early shape sorter.  As I explained a few weeks ago, I've been observing some behaviors that lead me to believe she is ready for this activity, but my attempts at shape sorting had not yet worked.  But, she has been working with this shape sorter.  It allows her to match colors and shapes using the blocks and try to place them in the correct slot using fine motor and matching skills again.  I'm excited to see her work towards mastery. 
Interactions with Others
  • Yesterday we hosted a big party (a doughnut fry and swap party!) with 10 kiddos under the age of 3.  So, we had lots of opportunities for interacting with others.  Q-ball isn't necessarily the friendliest kid in the group, but she will offer up the occasional toy.  As is typical with children at this age, she still likes playing on her own.
  • But, someone she does not like interacting with is the doctor.  This mornings appointment was especially full of screams.  The doctor said it is was one of the worst doctor-induced-fits he'd seen.  Now, he was pretty young, but Q-ball was not a happy camper.  Poor thing!
Critical Thinking
  • Q-ball is continuing to work on sequencing.  This past week, she nearly mastered signing her bedtime routine to us. (bath, diaper, book, milk, sleep.)
Interactions with Life 
  • As I explained here, we use a floor bed for Q-ballWe have continued to love this set-up. On nights when sleep was especially difficult, it is easy for me to pull my air mattress (one of the camping ones) and pillow next to her bed and sleep there.  Now, Q-ball has never been one for cuddling when sleeping- this is why bed-sharing was not really an option for us. And, while she loves nursing to sleep, she was never one to like to lay down to nurse.  I always had to rock her in my lap while nursing and then place her in bed.  But, over the past two weeks Q-ball (and Mama!) has discovered the joys of laying down to nurse to sleep.  But, one consequence is that Q-ball now pretty much always sleeps on the floor next to her super comfy mattress.  Even when she doesn't nurse to sleep, she is rolling onto the floor to sleep there.  I feel a little bad because I know it's not very comfortable (even with the camping mattress, my hips are a little sore in the morning...), but this seems to be her choice!
     We are linking up with Vibrant Wanderings.  See what the other kiddos are up to here! 
    To see the rational and purpose for the Watch Her Grow series, please check out this post!
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