Another basic Montessori concept that I've finally got around to doing for Bear - Hooks at child height! As usual I can't believe I didn't do it sooner.
Bear loves screws and screwdrivers so he was very keen to help me install 3 shiny new hooks on our side table.
I hung up his hat, backpack and nappy bag and immediately he was intrigued. He was fascinated as I demonstrated lifting the hoops over the hook very carefully with 2 hands. He watched me take them off then put them back. Then it was his turn and I have to say I was mesmerised for half an hour watching him work it out.
He loves being able to get his hat for himself. He runs off to get it when we're going outside. He has even started putting his hat on himself. I had no idea he was able to do that. I had always just done it for him. I am constantly underestimating him!
Since hooks seemed to be so much fun I also moved our key hooks down to his height. Same concept but practices different coordination. However definitely not as much fun as being able to do useful things for yourself like get your own hat!
Lately our mornings have been starting like this:
I don't know what the problem was exactly.
The tantrums triggered me to give some thought to how we do breakfast. I've made some changes that require Bear to be more independent. We haven't had any tantrums since. This is how we do breakfast now:
Why didn't I do this sooner?!
I can't believe the difference this has made to our mornings. We have acknowledged Bear's ability to do simple things for himself and provided just the right level of challenge. We have gone from an hour of chaos followed by an hour of grumpy hungry toddler to peace.
This isn't going to be the solution forever. What next? Making toast? Spreading butter? Making smoothies? I'll keep you posted.
"The parents' challenge is to establish a home environment that encourages the development of concentration from the child's infancy and that supports flow experiences for all family members. Such a home reflects the complexity of life."
When we're inside we spend our time in the playroom. It's my favourite room in the house. It's beautiful and sunny with big windows, a skylight and a Northerly aspect. Most of Bear's toys are kept here. The piano is here. It's the centre of our house. There are doors leading out to the yard, Bear's bedroom, the bathroom, the laundry and the carport. I've made some changes to make a special place for Fox to join us in this space.
It is a challenge balancing the needs of the 2 boys in the same area. Bear needs freedom, independence and lots of movement. Fox needs safety, calm and predictability. On the one hand I want to allow Bear plenty of access to his little brother but on the other I need to protect the little guy from Bear's clumsy and enthusiastic affection. I think the only way to have them share the space at the moment is with constant, diligent supervision. This is how the space is arranged so far:
A Floor-bed and Mirror
During the day Fox spends a lot of his time on a floor-bed. It is a thin cot-sized mattress tucked away in a corner. Bear brings his toys to work on the black and white rug so it's very close to the action. Fox is still asleep most of the time so he sleeps here covered by a small crocheted blanket. When he is awake he is happy for short periods looking at himself in the mirror or watching and listening to us play on the mat. Most of the time he is happier being held when he is awake.
I am trying to teach Bear that this is a quiet, gentle area. He is welcome on the bed and he is allowed to touch Fox gently. He's starting to get the idea. He often comes and lies next to Fox, or brings toys over for him, of pats his belly.
A Changing Area
I'm using the top of a chest of drawers as a change table. The drawers are stocked with nappies, wipes and all his clothes. All the drawers have child-proof latches to keep Bear from rummaging through them and emptying them out!
Bear sometimes carries his little chair over to us and stands on it so he can participate. He likes to pull out a baby wipe and help wipe Fox. Or take a cottonbud, dip it in water and clean Fox. I love it when he does these things. It reminds me how closely he watches the things I do because he imitates them so carefully.
An area for feeding
There is a comfortable couch next to the play area that faces out the window. Through the window I can usually see the goats grazing and the chickens wandering around. There is a high table next to the couch where I can sit my hot drink out of reach of little hands. On the floor next to the couch is a basket of books for Bear that are rotated weekly. It is perfect for us all to cuddle up together and read a book while I breastfeed Fox or it's close enough to the rug for Bear to chat to me while he works.
I have a few mobiles for Fox but I haven't put a hook in the wall to hang them yet. Hopefully I'll get them up sometime this week because I think he is already developmentally ready for them. I would also love to make a black and white quilt for Fox to lie on for tummy time. I'm not sure when I'll find time to do that but I can dream...
We decided to get a dog soon after moving onto our farm. Our cats and chickens were being terrorised by a huge and very bold fox. We realised we were going to need a guard dog for our peace of mind.
Izzy was a stray. She was found near Maitland, was taken to a shelter in Newcastle then made her way to the RSPCA vet clinic in Ugoona. My sister had been scouting the shelter for a while to find us a dog and it looked like Izzy might be a perfect match for us. She was big but still a puppy, had a quiet temperament and not much of a prey drive.
She had a problem though - she had been diagnosed as "unhousable" due to separation anxiety. She had proved herself to be extremely destructive and an escape artist. When she came to live with us as a foster dog she was taking an antidepressant and a tranqueliser and had a regime of relaxation and meditation exercises to do twice per day. Needless to say we were nervous about how this might turn out!
It turned out great! She was a lonely and very energetic puppy who needed a family and lots of space. Her separation anxiety has translated into loyalty and her destructive energies have been redirected with lots of exercise.
Izzy's like a big sister for Bear. They have a lot of common interests - sticks, balls, dirt, puddles, steeling clothes pegs... Sometimes Izzy snatches Bear's toys or Bear hits Izzy with his shovel. Other times they play so beautifully together. She's found a special place in our family.
I'm writing this at 4.30am with my precious little Fox bundled up on my lap - wide awake. The perfect time to write his introduction.
Praise God Fox was born naturally without induction 3 days before his due date. My labour was speedy and dramatic. Contractions started in the middle of the night and within a few hours were coming every 1-2 minutes. We were met at the hospital by my brilliant midwife just before I started to bleed and Fox blocked off his cord. The midwife called for the doctor to come straight away but amazingly we were able to deliver the little guy safely before he arrived. I've never been more relieved than when I heard him cry for the first time!
Fox has been a wonderful newborn. He's very calm and relaxed - he seems to have a very different temperament to Bear (if it's possible to tell this early on - and I suspect it is possible). He's sleeping and feeding really well so far and I am absolutely soaking up his sweet newborn cuddles. It's so nice to have a soft, warm little person who just loves to be held close (Bear's much too busy for cuddles most of the time!)
Bear has also been wonderful. I was so nervous about how he would react to this big change. I had heard stories about toddlers ignoring their mothers completely, or having violent tantrums, or regressing developmentally. He hasn't done any of these things. He has just accepted the change. He seems to understand that there are times when I need to tend to Fox and I can't do as he asks. He goes off and does something else or sits with us and talks to me about Fox or reads a book with me. Developmentally he continues to thrive. He's in the middle of his word explosion and continues to communicate more and more effectively. Toilet learning progresses - yesterday he even did a wee on the potty! I'm sure it is our Montessori environment and attitude that has allowed him to cope so well. He can access his work and entertainment without my help. He wants my interest and my company but he doesn't need me to be hands on.
It's been just over a week of being a family of four. I can't believe how lucky we are - our boys are wonderful. I'm so excited about all that lies ahead.
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.