Miro’s Montessori journey 15-25 months

As from my previous post about 12-15 months of Miros journey, where I mentioned the crucial importance of movement in his life, the need has just increased with time. There is not a single shelf he has not climbed, not a single fence he did not try to cross or a tree he did not intend to climb. He is so much more into climbing than his sister who was more into dancing and fine motorics in the same age. Every child is so different. I am sure you have not heard a lot about children who go to sleep with their metal pan or bagger, well our Miro does ❤ He in unique in ever sense. Having a strong willed child can bring so many challenges, but it also results in your increase in knowledge and keep learning every day. Most materials that were interesting to Natalia in this age, such as sorting by colour and real puzzles (3 piece etc) are of no interest to Miro. In this regard I really love following Montessori citations:

It is necessary, then, to give the child the possibility of developing according to the laws of his nature, so that he can become strong, and, having become strong, can do even more than we dared hope for him.

I must say especially this phrase resonates with us, we did not have a lot of expectations from Miro, since he loved so much running after ball and dribbling we thought he could be a good football player (for few months he showed interest only and exclusively in ball). We even made fun that at least as football player he ll be able to earn more money and have a decent life, and many family members just compared Miro to Modric (famous Croatian football player).

But the truth is we did not try hard enough to really follow him, especially in those challenging months (15-18 in his case;). He has just suddenly surprised us from speaking only few words in summer to complete explosion of vocabulary in december where he started fluently speaking in 3 languages, speaking actually more than Natalia in that age. Ofcourse, he has an amazing mentor – his older sister, and she did not have this privilege. I would love to add two more beautiful Marias phrases:

The child is the spiritual builder of mankind, and obstacles to his free development are the stones in the wall by which the soul of man has become imprisoned.

“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”

We have discovered the true passion of Miro – cooking, I thought Natalia likes cooking, but this little guy, he adores cooking. Whenever he sees you are taking some pan or bowl to do something in the kitchen he ll just appear there bring his chair and demand he takes part in cooking. And cooking is our main educational tool with Miro – thanks to cooking he is amazing in fine motorics (mixing, pouring, adding, cutting, frying just name it he is an expert) and counting. When we make cakes he counts spoons (he can follow depicted recipe but still doesn’t recognize written numbers so I just draw 5 spoons and he adds than 5 spoons..etc). There is a video in the comments here Miro like pro preparing lunch

https://www.facebook.com/mateahinkoadventure/videos/324110831536517/

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In order to provide your kids freedom and teach them idependence and avoid hearing constantly “Mom ,please give me some water, I’m thirsty – the best ever 4 euro investment was into the water pitcher which is in daily use:D

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About toilet learning – lets say we are not in hurry, whenever Natalia goes to toilet he also has to go and then he really uses toilet, also when we re in restaurants, for some weird reason he loves to do his stuff in restaurant toilets regularly but not at home, hmmm… He still does not self initiate and we do not plan to force it, his time will come, I know when he will be ready transformation will appear in one day.

He loves to help around the garden but most of all he loves to copy paste the work of his big sister, whatever she does he also has to try, one must say he indeed has the best teacher possible, Natalia is so patient and sometimes knows better than me how to avoid any of Miros tantrums 🙂

 

What are your 2 year olds up to?:D

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How to present puzzles in Montessori fashion and what does absorbing from environment actually mean?

In the early phase of development, Maria Montessori distinguished two phases: first one up to 3 years old in which the child absorbs the environment and second period 3-6 years, in which the child realizes the environment by the work of his hands. Also she has already 100 years ago noticed the childs sensitivity for order. Let me make few important quotes:

A childs sensitiveness to order may be noticed even in the first months of his existence. A positive manifestation of it may be seen in the enthusiasm and joy which children who at seeing things in their proper places.

Already from this quote you might notice how important the environment is, since children absorb everything and have a need to find a thing in  a certain spot. Don’t you remember playing hide and seek with your kids when they are young toddlers? They always expect that you will hide at the same spot especially between 1 and 2 years old:D

Obviously the love of order in children is not the same as that of adults. Order provides an adult with a certain amount of external pleasure. But for the small children it is something quite different. It is like the land upon which animals walk or the water in which fish swim. In their first year they derive their principles of orientation from their environment which they must later master. And since a child is formed by his environment he has need of precise and determined guides and not simply some vague constructive formulae.

From my previous blog posts, you already know that Natalia loved puzzles already with 14 months and I have described her journey till 30 months. Even now, every night before going to sleep she takes some puzzles from her shelf (now she takes 30-50 pieces puzzles) and then she has to assemble them at least twice, she is now in this sensitive period for puzzles where she enjoys repetitions. Once done, she says mommy please one more time before goodnight story, and like that usually few times.

Unlike Natalia, her brother is not interested in puzzles at all. And that is fine, we are all different. World would be so boring if we would all have the same interests.

It is necessary, then, to give the child the possibility of developing according to the laws of his nature, so that he can become strong, and, having become strong, can do even more than we dared hope for him. M.M

So far he has enjoyed only wooden puzzles and shape sorter, and thanks to observing him I have realized puzzles should always be presented in assembled and not disassembled fashion. In that way they are much more appealing. At least, they are to my children. You might wonder how did I notice it?

I ll give you few examples. When  Miro was 14 months the circle puzzle presented in such a way that circles were in a separated basked and empty puzzle on a tray he never took it. Whenever I would leave it intact, he would take it to the table and play for 15 minutes, repeating the assembling and disassembling process.

Or one more recent example – on our table we have a decoration in which we place tooth-picks, it consists of few flower petals which you can assemble on the top of each other. Miro just takes it and from time to time reassembles. Few weeks ago he replaced the petals of this plastic decoration with the petals of the real flower since he found it more appealing. I was not very happy he destroyed my plant but I kept my emotions for myself and told him we do not want to hurt plants:D

 

 

 

 

Gardening in November

If you are like us situated on the Northern hemisphere, having snow around at the moment, you must ask yourself what am I talking about -gardening in november?!?

There are plenty of plants that can be planted in November!:) And that is indeed a great thing since my kids love gardening and spending time outside in our garden.

Since we planted tulips in October, Natalia requested we plant some purple plants in November. So our purple choice is depicted in the photo below:

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Do your kids also enjoy gardening? What is their favorite thing to do in the garden?

 

PS As you can see we planted them last week, before the snowfall:D

Dealing with a strong-willed child or how did I hide crocs from my son

Before having Miro, I thought “strong-willed child” is a term invented by modern society to justify complaining of modern parents about their children due to lack of discipline.

Oh, boy was I wrong!

As defined by psychologists strong-willed children are people who are not easily swayed away from their viewpoints.    

On contrary to Natalia, who was an extremely calm baby, after being fed sleeping for 4-6 hours, her brother had to be fed every 30-45 minutes, constantly carried for the first 6 months and required a lot of attention. And hey ,we are the same parents, one would say with second one it should just get easier due to having experience already, right? Well, not truth in our case;) Do not get me wrong, I love him with all my heart and this is not a post to complain, just to empathise with all my fellow parents of strong-willed children and give a small piece of advice how to survive two first 2 years:)

How to notice if you have a strong-willed child?

From the first day in the hospital – baby will require much more attention than other babies, hysterically crying if separated from a mother just for a short period of time. Needing constant contact, CONSTANT CONTACT.

Any piece of advice to survive first few months?

Get a great baby wrap and baby carrier, it will make your life so much more pleasant for the first 6 months of babies life. When you cook, go shopping, write grant proposals, wherever, whatever you will need a baby carrier with a strong-willed baby.

Give up from the idea of putting a strong-willed baby in a baby bed,,,it will simply waste too much of your energy and it will not work out. Co-sleep with your baby, enjoy the cuddle, time will come for your little one to be ready to separate for the night from you (with Miro I had to wait 19 months:P).

Ask for help. Anyone. A friend, neighbour, family. In order to have a normal shower without a screaming baby, having few minutes of peace, especially during first 3 months you will need help and do not be ashamed of asking for it. There is a reason why we have a phrase: It takes a village to raise up a child.

It will get better. Remember that. Stick it as a magnet on your fridge!

But it does not mean it gets much easier. Each development mile brings new challenges. They are very stubborn. When they want something, you can not simply rationalise it, offer a different choice or any other parenting trick that works with your other child. It just does not work.

For example, Miros favorite outdoor shoes are crocs. And as you can imagine I was not very happy that still in November he was going outside in Crocs. Natural consequences do not really work (hahah ) – even if his feet are frozen he will not admit it! He will want to show you that he is right! So the only way to get rid of crocs before the advent was to hide them in our basement. Sometimes, you just need to be radical:D

Your strong-willed child will test your limits (and nerves) on daily basis. Hang on there, and let them learn from their own experience whenever that is an option.

Encourage independence of your strong-willed child – it will make your life so much easier.

Routines are the key for the dealing with strong-willed children, and this is a tough one for us due to our passion for travelling. But we try to stick to the routine as much as possible, and we are aware of tantrums to appear when we break the routine too much.

What are your challenges with your strong-willed child?

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Great budget friendly board games

As many of you know I love to DIY many of our Montessori materials. But since I love so much board games myself and we do not have a TV at home, very often I am like an eagle when visiting stores such as TEDi. Yesterday I managed to purchase three different nice toddler friendly games, each for less than 3 euros:)

Just wanted to share with you if you live close to TEDi or dollar store to check them out, good quality games do not need to be expensive:)

Both Miro (21 month) and Natalia (3.4y) love them! Especially the Biber one:D

Did you find something budget friendly recently?:D

Why do babies and young toddlers put everything in their mouth and what can we learn from it?

For sure you have observed your baby trying to place everything in mouth, whatever can be found in the close surrounding. You might have wondered why are they doing it? What is so appealing in trying to chew that wooden basket in which you placed some balls?

Baby’s mouth has more nerve endings than any other part of the body. If the baby really wants to find out what something feels like, she has to put it in her mouth. This is the way they explore the world! They are using the mouth to test the hardness, texture and taste of various materials. It is a very important experience. Additionally, a need to chew on something in order to relieve the pain of teething is an instinct within babies. There is no need to prevent this experience – only to be careful that it does not present a potential choking hazard.

Our daughter stopped being so much interested into putting everything in her mouth and chewing it after she turned 13 months (maybe cause she already had most of the teeth by that age). But her little brother with 15 months is still very much into exploring many things with his mouth. He ll take everything that seems tempting from the floor and put it into mouth – ranging from a snail to various flowers and grass. In case of the sand from the sandbox I let him explore, I just gently tell him sand is for playing and not for eating. I guess his natural instinct tells him to put it in his mouth as it helps him tremendously as a pain relief from teething. Since I am not a botanist and flower expert, thanks to him I have learned a lot about eatable flowers and plants. I find the following links very useful:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/surviving-in-the-wild-19-common-edible-plants/

https://matteroftrust.org/14760/62-edible-wild-plants-that-you-didnt-know-you-can-eat

https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/daisy-herb-benefits.html

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Daisies are really a common sights in the parks now in spring and he was attracted to them, especially when he had a runny nose;) Apparently they are very healthy and used as herbal remedy for common cold, bronchitis and other inflammation of upper respiratory track. We should definitely trust to our own and our children’s natural instincts;) In Austria daisies are a sign of spring, there is even an expression if there are 10 daisies below your foot, than you know that the spring is there. They are even used to prepare some meals.

This week we have decided to give it a try to prepare a daisy dish:)

The list of ingredients you will need in case you want to try it as well:

4 potatoes

1 parsley root

1 onion

100 g coconut milk

700 mL of soup broth

1,5 spoon of olive oil (or sunflower but we always use olive in our kitchen)

pinch of salt

150 g of daisy flower

Young toddlers can fully participate in making this dish and it is important to them to do so, as I have already written previously.

1. step: Wash the potatoes and clean them well. (very young toddlers can do this part and it helps a lot as the preparation for the peeling process). Wash the parsley root.

2. step: Peel the potatoes and parsley root.

3. step: Cut potatoes, parsley root and onion in small pieces. (On the photo Miro just tried to copy his sister in order to cut a potato – he still does not have force and technique to cut the raw potato, but he is trying hard to learn from his sister.)

4. step: Place everything in the big pot on hot oil, stir it a bit and add the broth in it and let it cook for 20 minutes.

5. When everything is still cooking in pot, wash the daisies, put 1/3 on the side for the decoration of the soup and 2/3 add to the rest in the pot after vegetables have been already cooked for nearly 20 minutes.

6. Puree the soup, add coconut milk and salt and mix it all well.

7. Serve in bowls and decorate with daisies and enjoy:)

Let me know which flower recipes did you try recently or how did your kid inspire you to try something new:)

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Miro’s Montessori journey 12-15 months and importance of movement

One word could describe the last three months in the best way – MOVEMENT. Since Miro started walking with 11 months, he has been working a lot on exploring world around him, climbing and running wherever he could.

Maria Montessori has devoted even a separate chapters in her books dedicated to Movement (it can be found both in The Absorbent Mind and The Secret of Childhood). Already in the beginning of the 20th century she stated:

If mental development is spoken of, people say: “Movement? There is no need for movement; we are talking about mental growth!”. When they think of mental improvement they imagine all are sitting down, moving nothing. But mental development must be connected with movement and is dependent on it. This is the new idea that must enter educational theory and practice.

Even though she stated this in the beginning of 20th century things have not improved much more one century later in most schools and kindergartens. We can hope and spread Maria’s voice for the better world of education:)

Miro enjoys long walks, few weeks ago when we went for gymnastic class he has walked 3 km without a problem (till then he was mostly walking only up to 1 km to reach the park). It took us almost 2 hours to reach it, but he was so proud and he discovered so many things on the way – various insects, stones, leaves and much more. We can all learn so much from the nature. Sometimes his big sisters points him to some insect or flower and then they examine it together. For me those moments are so precious and bringing me lots of joy. I have learned about so many insects that I had no clue about and thanks to Miro I saw that an oak tree seed can start its development even in a sandbox:)

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Apart from balls, Duplos and wooden blocks for building he has been interested in certain educational toys we have at home. Below on the photo are the ones he has shown most interest in, over the last 3 months.

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All this materials appeared on his shelf on a tray once he turned 1 year old. In the first month he had most fun with the pop-up toy. It was mostly about fine motor skills and placing them inside the hole and then pressing with a finger to pop-up. Just very recently he started also sorting them according to colour, but not all and not always:)

What I like most with young toddlers they do not need any kind of “lessons” they learn everything by exploring on their own. That is why I love Montessori friendly toys so much, cause they are self-correcting🙂 Sometimes big sister steps in and wants to show her brother how it is supposed to be done and why, but I see no harm in it. She is his teacher on daily basis anyway, modelling him how to dress up, where to put shoes, where should the things be, etc.

For example sorting the circles by size toy – in the beginning Miro used this toy as an instrument, clapping the circles one into other, and he was more interested in the noise they produce and how do they clash with the floor. When he was closer to 14 months he started using this toy as a puzzle and being interested in where does certain circle fits into.

Another one that before he mostly liked to take out to use as building blocks, but now likes to assemble (guess its sister’s influence) is the shape sorter.

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Enjoy the beautiful spring and let me know what are your little ones up to:)