The boys have been fighting a lot. The most frequent scenario plays out as follows:
Bear settles to play peacefully with trains.
Fox marches over and takes a train.
Bear shouts "'Oxy!! Oxy!! Oxy!!" and snatches the train back.
Mum carries Fox to the other end of the house.
Repeat from the top.
Fox settles to peacefully to read a book.
Bear marches over the takes the book.
Fox squeals and tries to snatch it back.
Mum disciplines Bear.
Repeat from the top.
Peace hasn't been lasting very long lately! I don't believe the fighting is the core of the problem. But it is the fighting that has finally moved me to action!
1. Baby gate
At times the boys need their own space and their own things. The gate helps me keep them apart. It is a removable gate. It's not up all the time.
There was a vague separation of their things between two areas already. Fox was spending more time close to me near the kitchen/study. Bear was usually further away.
Both areas have plenty of shelves, an appropriately sized table and chair, plenty of space on the floor and a comfortable place for me to sit and join in. I have deliberately separated their things now. All the work that is specifically for Fox is together. All the work that is specifically for Bear is in his area.
On Bear's side of the gate he has access to the bathroom, his bedroom and he can let himself outside to play as he wishes. Fox's area is smaller and much more limited which is perfect for him.
2. Proper baby proofing for Fox
Fox is at a stage where he is very curious and very capable of exploring. He can open doors, drawers and cupboards. He can climb. He can unpack anything. He loves to do these things. He is able to get into all sorts of trouble and he relishes it!
For him to be safe and have freedom in his environment it really needs to be properly baby-proofed. It wasn't before. It is now! All the doors, drawers and cupboards he is not allowed to have access to are baby proofed. He can't access potties, toilets, rolls of toilet paper, kitty litter or cat food.
This means complete freedom for him to explore and play without being interrupted. It also means peace of mind for me.
3. Child specific materials
As I rearranged the shelves separating out their toys I realised how few materials were specific for one or the other. There were especially few that were for Bear. I think I had been trying to choose toys that would appeal to both of them but they were actually appealing to neither.
With his own area Bear can have the work he is ready for that is not baby friendly - e.g. messy things, small things, sharp things, fragile things... and Fox can have the things that engage him but bore Bear.
Fox can learn to concentrate on his own work without being distracted or interrupted. His concentration and attention are so fragile. They are so easily broken.
Fox is fascinated and challenged by posting. I use yogurt containers with an assortment of holes for different levels of challenge. He posts things like dominos, balls, baby-food container lids, blocks, cotton wool. Anything really. At the moment he's posting paddle-pop sticks through a big hole - it's tricky but not frustrating.
Placing the ring on the posts of this toy requires Fox's full concentration. I made this toy for Bear when he was at the same stage with wood left-overs and serviette rings from an op-shop. It has been well loved.
Bear is so easy to engage at the moment. Some specific favourites are his train books and magazines, wooden train-set, matchbox vehicles, toy food and tongs and any activity outside.
They still play with each other a lot of the time and usually enjoy each others company. A little time apart helps them relax and concentrate. It helps us all feel peaceful and tolerant so we can make the most of our time together.
I made a shapes puzzle for Bear a while back with help from my Dad. I loved the Montessori single shapes puzzle but thought I'd have a crack at making one with materials I had lying around. It turned out functional and I really love the way it looks.
I cut four squares from a piece of pallet wood and sanded the rough edges. I used 4 different blocks as the puzzle pieces and traced around them to mark out the holes I needed to cut. I used an electric drill to put a hole in each corner big enough to pass the blade of the band saw through. Then Dad joined the dots with the band saw. He did a much neater job than I would have! Then some sandpaper to smooth the edges and ensure an easy fit.
The blocks sit up above the pallet wood making them easy to grasp and manipulate. They're a good size for little ones using a palmar grasp - they fit snuggly into little hands.
I introduced the cylinder on its own from around 10 months. Then the square on its own from around 12 months. The triangle and rectangle were more challenging and Bear is still working with the whole set at 22 months.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
My mum made play dough for Bear the last time she came to stay with us. He didn't want to touch it but loved poking holes in it with different objects. I love the way his play dough looks once he's been working on it - which gave me this idea to preserve and display it.
First Bear got to work on some rolled out air-dry modelling terracotta.
Then it was my turn to punch out stars with a cookie cutter, poke a hole for some festive string and write on the back "Bear 2014". They took 24 hours to dry completely.
I love the way they capture his baby art. We're going to share them with our friends and family. I hope they love them too! Merry Christmas everybody!!
Bear's absolute favourite toy at the moment. He'll work on this baby for an hour at a time.
Very cheap, quick and easy and totally satisfying seeing him choose it from the shelf again and again.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.