Peaceful Mornings

2013 Susan Tracy McDaniel, M.Ed., Parenting Coach, Learning Together Education
www.LearningTogetherEducation.org
Children in our society, in our families, children are often rushed and ordered around,
especially in the mornings. Parents tell me this is the time they are most likely to
become, shall we say, unpleasant with their children.
It is also important to consider how mornings are going, because the tone is set for the
day. We would like children to arrive at school feeling happy and peaceful, not stressed.
Walking in late can be disruptive to child and class, so make an effort to set up an
efficient morning routine and avoid running late.
A good morning starts the night before. Everything that can be done to ease the morning
should be. Some ideas:
  • Tidying up
  • Child packs school bag and/or lunch and places them by the door
  • Check that shoes or boots, coat, snow pants, TWO mittens, hat, etc. are ready. Provide low coat hooks and manageable storage near the door for these.
  • Lay out clothing for tomorrow
  • Bath
  • Use the toilet
  • Pajamas
  • Snack and/or drink (if bedwetting is not a problem)
  • Brush teeth
  • Pleasant stories (no monsters or disasters, and no television in the evening)
Begin the evening routine with the necessities, followed by some pleasant, quiet time
together, perhaps reading stories, saying prayers, tucking in, expressing your love for
your child. This could all be done by candlelight.
Your child should go to bed at approximately the same time each evening to set a sleep
habit. Most young children need a bedtime of 7:30 or 8 p.m. Allow for ten hours of
sleep, or more.
Plan an evening routine for yourself also. Prepare for the morning. Plan eight hours of
sleep, or whatever you know you need to feel rested. This helps you to be pleasant in the
morning!
Get up a half-hour before your children so you have time to get yourself ready, uninterrupted. Then, greet them with a smile! This sets the tone for a good day.
Children’s morning routine may include the following:
  • They get up on time, using an alarm.
  • Make the bed. Simplify bedding, perhaps using just a duvet.
  • Use the bathroom.
  • Get dressed in the clothing chosen the night before. Provide clothing that they
  • can put on independently.
  • Brush hair
When they finish these steps, THEN they may join you for a lovely breakfast.
You have spent the last little while preparing this breakfast, INSTEAD OF
nagging your children. They will know what needs to be done once the routine is
established.
If they are ready early, then reward them with time spent in an activity they enjoy.
Perhaps they have 20 minutes to play outside before they have to get in the car.
(Note: Getting outdoors before school aids concentration).
What’s your routine now? Searching for shoes, laundry, the school bag, keys…
Easier mornings start THE NIGHT BEFORE. Do everything you can ahead of time.
For both morning and night, observe how long it takes your child to get ready
INDEPENDENTLY, with no unneeded help from you. Allow this much time, plus some
extra.
I find that children respond better to nonverbal cues than verbal reminders. Instead of
repeating “Time to go!” numerous times, I just get my jacket and keys, and slowly head
for the door, about 10 minutes early. If a child is not ready and it is time to go, I put them
in the car as is (unless it is dangerously cold). They might get dressed quickly in the
car (they must be buckled before we depart), or at school. This could be too
embarrassing for some children, but it can be a very effective logical consequence for
many.
Once your mornings are running smoothly, you may find you have some extra time.
Enjoy that time together reading a book, playing a game, playing outside, listening to
music, or having a conversation… something healthy that your child especially enjoys.
No television before school it has a sedentary effect on children and adults alike.
Resources:
www.sleepfoundation.org
Please check sleep requirements by age.
www.flylady.net
for learning daily routines
www.learningtogethereducation.org
for parenting support

The Three-Period Lesson

The Three-Period Lesson
by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services

As a parent interested in the Montessori method, you may have heard about the three-period lesson, a hallmark of Montessori education that helps young children learn vocabulary and concepts.

In simple terms, the three steps, or periods, are:

  • 1. Naming (Introduction) “This is a dog.”
  • 2. Recognizing (Identification) “Show me the dog.”
  • 3. Remembering (Cognition) “What is this?”

The three-period lesson was developed by Edouard Seguin, a French physician who worked with special needs children in France and the United States during the late 19th century. He discovered ways to increase children’s cognitive abilities and believed in the importance of developing their self-reliance and independence. Seguin’s writings were a major inspiration to Maria Montessori and the source of many of her practical ideas.

Your role as your child’s first teacher is not the same as a trained educator. Quite naturally, you have been using the three-period lesson as you communicate with your baby and toddler. Your use of this “lesson” is much more informal than in a classroom setting. It is a tool to allow you to see your child’s knowledge of a particular concept, and a technique to keep in mind throughout his childhood.

“Look, Mom, Girls at the Piano!”

Here’s a fond memory I have of the three-period lesson in action with my own family:

When my children were young, my mother sent them postcards of famous artworks. We would briefly talk about the picture, the title, the artist, and then place the card on a small easel on a shelf in their rooms. When she visited, my mother would play games with the children using the postcards. One rainy Sunday afternoon when our family was visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my 3 1/2 year-old daughter suddenly shouted out, “Girls at the Piano,” as we entered a gallery. There was Auguste Renoir’s painting, bigger than life, and one excited little girl, delighted with her discovery.

The First Period: “This is _______.”

You have been naming people, places, and things for your baby from the very beginning. These names are used over and over, clearly isolating and identifying objects with one-word descriptions.

The baby hears the sounds and begins to understand language. Children will not Toddler Practical Lifedistinguish differences at this early age – for example all people may be “mama” or all animals might be called “dogs.” Lots of names are learned before a child learns to speak, and understanding often comes before a child is able to verbalize.

Learning takes place through all the senses, not just by hearing. Babies touch, taste, squeeze, smell, push, and manipulate everything. As you identify concepts such as “hot” or “cold,” children not only learn the vocabulary but they also experience the quality. They miraculously internalize the world through all their senses. Montessori refers to this innate ability as the “absorbent mind.”

 

The Second Period: “Show me ______.”

This stage of learning is the longest, and your child needs to have many, many experiences hearing the names of things.

You may have noticed that your child looks in the direction of an object you name. She is indeed connecting the word with the object. Later, your little one understands simple instructions. Montessori identified how important movement is for learning, so play games that incorporate movement. For example, ask your child to find the ball and bring it to you. Peek-a-Boo games help children learn during the second period. “Where is Teddy? There he is!” Naming games are fun for children whether reading together, riding in the car, or playing “I Spy” at home. “Where’s the horse?” “Find the red balloon.” “Where is your excavator?”

Enjoy watching your child absorb information about the world, and recognize objects. There is no reason to hurry on to the third period until your child has fully experienced and learned vocabulary during this second level of learning. This process might continue for months, weeks, or days.

The Third Period: “What is this?”

Although some call the third period “the test,” don’t ask your child a vocabulary question until you know he will be successful. Recall how delighted you were when your child first said “Mama” or “doggie.” When the child can name something, it signals cognition, the third step of learning.

If you ask, “What is this?” your child might not know. This tells you that more repetition and experience is needed. Never indicate that your child has failed. Just go back to the second period. Play more naming games, reintroduce vocabulary while you talk about what you see, and then enjoy your child’s amazing “absorbent mind.”

“The purpose of the three-period lesson is to help the child to better understand…and to allow you to see how well the child is grasping and absorbing what you are showing him.”

– Elizabeth Hainstock, Teaching Montessori in the Home

 by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.

Earth Day Everyday

In commemoration of our upcoming Earth Day celebration on April 22, we would love to share the following ideas for ways to incorporate that same spirit in your own homes.

Earth Day, Every Day Activities by Gina Abegg, Co-Director

Paper Conservation:

  • Use donated recycled paper for first drafts, better paper once practices.
  • Also use white construction paper for water color practice, real paper for final.
  • Cut paper in all different sizes so children can choose.
  • Have a recycled paper container for wrapping paper, cards, scrap for collage sources.
  • Teach children to choose what they want to have happen with their paper: hang, give as gifts, use other sides, cut part off for recycling, keep working until used.
  • Roll large pieces in a cut toilet paper or paper towel tube so not damaged, use as gift wrap.
  • Shred paper waste and make new paper from it.

Water Conservation:

  • Teach children to turn off faucet quickly after washing or brushing teeth.
  • Use pitchers at the table so children can choose how much water they will use.
  • Monitor water drips with a bucket under faucet and measure over time.
  • Teach to pour unused water into the plants watering container not down the drain.
  • Use biodegradable soap and pour outside cleaning or clothes washing water onto plants.
  • Show how you water early and late so the water doesn’t evaporate so quickly.
  • Combine splash day activities with watering cycle.
  • Time watering of gardens and use a rain water measuring gauge.

Recycling:

  • Crush cans and take to the store for cashing. Buy plants or bird seed.
  • Have a recycle center for items for art projects. Ask parents to bring different kinds of items for different projects, ex. instruments, bird feeders, art projects.
  • Cooperate with the city recycle program. Have children take tubs to curb. Research what happens to the recycled items.
  • Integrate recycled containers into classroom, ex. containers for parts for an art project

Composting/Worm Farm:

  • Have a compost bin that children can turn or roll.
  • Collect scraps in a small covered bucket that children can work into the compost.
  • Create an area by the compost with soil and humus that the children can put on top of scraps.
  • Have children regularly put compost into the garden.
  • Create a worm farm next to the compost that children feed and put worms into the gardens.
  • Have children pick up worms on the sidewalk and put into the farm or the garden.

Gardening:

  • Have child sized tools stored in an orderly way, possibly only used under supervision.
  • Let children choose the plants they want to put in and tend them.
  • Older children label plants and measure progress.
  • Harvest and share.
  • Read books about gardens in the gardens.

Feeding Wild life:

  • Increase natural plantings that will attract and feed birds, butterflies, etc.
  • Have feeders and a metal container with a scoop so children can help keep the feeders full.
  • Observe wildlife and record observations, study wildlife cycles, footprints.