Getting a Little Rhythm while you’re at Home

The landscape and rhythm of our lives could well be about to change dramatically over the coming months. Social distancing and self isolation are now commonplace phrases that appeared overnight into our vocabulary!

Every Cloud

Many of us are finding that we will be at home with our children a lot more than we normally would. For some this is exciting times and for others a little daunting. If I can, I always like to find the positives in any situation. For now, time is slowing. For many of us this may be the first time since childhood. Make the most of this precious time you have been given together.

Looking for learning through play ideas? You might be interested in this blog post – Brilliant, Screen Free Play Ideas for being at Home.

Home Rhythm

Before having my daughter I was an early years and primary teacher and I want to assure you that if your children are going to be at home for a couple of weeks or more you do not need to replicate school. If you’re worried about how much ‘learning time’ there should be, check out this blog post. I’m not saying it’s 100% accurate, but having taught in schools I don’t disagree with most of what is said.

Being at home is different. Children are naturally inquisitive learners and will absorb so much from being at home with you. Learning through play isn’t just a catchy caption, it’s absolutely true. Children of all ages need to play, it’s how they make sense of the world, test out theories and solve problems. That being said, many of our children will be used to some form of routine from their settings and being able to give them and you some structure to your days will be beneficial for all.

Rhythm and Flow

Routines are often quite rigid. Times are allocated to them. It can feel quite restrictive and give you a sense of falling behind. In our home we adopt a more flowing idea of structure, a ‘rhythm’ inspired by Waldorf philosophy. Eloise Rickman, a prominent advocate of rhythm, peaceful parenting and home schooling spoke to the BBC yesterday on coping with self isolation together – you can find the article here. Well worth a read.

Putting in place a rhythm for your family during this time doesn’t need to be Pinterest worthy. It’s a flow of how your day will go, what it will look like and most importantly for children, what happens next in my day. If you already have set wake, bed, meal and snack points in a day you may want to have a more loose idea of a rhythm as these events are already anticipated. It could be that every Monday you will do baking, on Tuesdays you will go on a nature exploring session in the garden. These activities in a week help your children to know where they are. However, if on Monday no one wants to do baking that’s fine, change it to something else. Above is an example of a simple weekly rhythm.

Waldorf Inspired

You’ll notice if you search for rhythm that Waldorf inspired rhythms associated each day with a colour. Many choose to use these colours to depict each day on their rhythm charts. Do what you feel is right for you. We often go for a seasonal tone to ours or a rainbow.

If you don’t already have some of the food and rest points mapped into your child’s day then it may be useful to be much more intentional in your flow. Below shows a daily rhythm with key points of the day written down. Again, if things need to change that’s fine, just pick back up your flow when you can. Gradually, over time, this rhythm you live becomes invisible, woven into your being.

You’ll notice there are no times to this. It doesn’t matter if lunch is 12 or 1 or playing outdoors goes on much longer. However, after lunch, for us is rest time – whatever time lunch was. Just knowing what comes next is incredibly comforting to children normally, yet especially now in these unprecedented times.

Making your Rhythm

Getting your children involved in forming your rhythm will help them feel much more a part of the day. Very little ones could help with painting backgrounds while you draw pictures. Older children may be able to help you create the rhythm and even write/ draw/ type it up.

Resources

  • First you’ll need some resources. You could type up your rhythm or draw/ write your rhythm down. Below are some background you can print off if you’re looking for inspiration. However, you could paint yourself a background together. We use Stockmar liquid watercolours or Tiny Land wood stains for our backgrounds.
  • Next, think about the start of your day and the end. Are there tricky points in there such as teeth brushing. If so make sure to put them down. A big part of having a rhythm is forming good habits.
  • Add in snacks and meal – these can have their own micro rhythms (such as helping to lay the table, washing hands, clearing away etc.)
  • Then add in your intentional activities. If you are choosing to do some structured learning with your children add it on. It could be that during the day you need to get some work done. Add it on, ‘playtime – Mummy/ Daddy working’. For some children it may need to be a specific activity than just playtime such as playdough.

Get Them Involved

  • Get children involved. What would they like to do in a day? In a week? A movie afternoon? Clay modelling? If they don’t readily have ideas, give them a list of ideas that they could choose from.
  • Add it to your rhythm chart. It’s just for your home. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • Try as much as possible to stick to your rhythm initially, this will help form gentle habits in your day and week. It’s surprising how quickly you get into the flow. If something really isn’t working change it. We often change our rhythm seasonally, or if there is a change that happens such as working days.

Share your Rhythm

We’d love to see your rhythms that you already have in place or ones you have done after reading this post. Do head over to our Yes Bebe Babble Facebook Group and share them there. It’s a lovely, friendly space where you can get lots of ideas for play and learning at home.

You may have heard other terms such as morning time and poetry tea time. These are more focused/ intentional times and each have their own little micro rhythms. If you’d like to know more about these or any other aspect leave a comment below or in the Babble group.

Did you know we have an ever increasing selection of books being added to the site? Over on the Yes Bebe Book Page we’re sharing lots of fabulous books with ideas of activities you can do and different questions you can ask your children.

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Toys to support your baby’s grasping skills

Today I want to share with you how your baby’s grasping skills develop the first year and what toys to choose to enhance those skills.

A new-born baby doesn’t really need toys yet. He will mostly sleep and feed. A warm place to rest, a sling to stay close and you!

The first 2 months, grasping is a reflex. Babies keep their hands into tight fist and grasp your finger automatically.

Toward 2 months of age, your baby may attempt to grasp. If you give a grasping toy with a thinner part directly to your baby, she might hold it tightly and release it only through a reflex.

 

Around 3 months, hand-eye coordination starts developing. Your child will enjoy gazing at baby mobiles. Within the Montessori community, we like to introduce babies to specific Mobiles that can be handmade easily. Check this article for more information .

Babies will also start to notice things and attempt to reach for them. It’s the time to provide an easy to grasp toy within reach. Help your child only if she is starting to be frustrated by her attempts. 

At 4 months, babies are able to grasp and hold large objects such as blocks, but they are still not able to grasp small things. A big beads grasper would be ideal.

From 4 to 8 months, it’s the mouthing period. Babies start picking up things and put them in their mouth. Any teething toy is great for this period.

They will also move objects between their hands so something like this, a double part grasping toy will encourage this skill.

Around 6 months of age, when they start to sit up by themselves, you can provide a treasure basket: a mixture of interesting toys and everyday objects. Start collecting!

From 9 to 12 months, babies will be able to pick up objects. The pincer grasp also develops by this age and your baby will start picking up small objects between her forefingers and thumb. The coordination is also increasing. You can now provide more intriguing baby toys such as the discovery balls

I hope you have found this article about babies interesting. To find more about what I offer to parents, read about me on my blog www.themontessorifamily.com

 

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Discover Montessori

Discover Montessori friendly toys!

Author: Carine Robin

I’m Carine, a Montessori teacher and psychologist, my mission is to help families to embrace the principles of the Montessori education to help their children to grow and fulfil their own potential.

I run a parents and toddler groups based on the Montessori principles and I support parents through workshops, locally and online.

At Montessori-family, we believe that it’s truly possible to implement the Montessori ideas at home to make your house and family life welcoming to your child, his/her needs and his thrive for independence.

I will be the official Montessori expert at Yes Bébé consulting on the website, blog and facebook group.

First, What is Montessori Education?

The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been used for over 100 years in many parts of the world.

It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.

The principles, or foundations, of that method are:

  • Observe your child and follow his interests, offer activities and an environment that support his/her needs
  • Encourage your child to be independent in every day life and provide child size tools, real objects and breakable material when suitable.
  • Provide an orderly environment, your home is your child’s first “classroom”
  • Less is more regarding toys and rotate what you offer to your child
  • Prioritising natural material to refine the 5 senses
  • Allow freedom within limits: freedom to move, freedom to choose, freedom to say no within the limits of safety and the limits of the society you live in.
  • No rewards and no punishment as it’s proven at being non effective.

Specifically, when choosing toys, you can also follow those guidelines:

Maria Montessori didn’t design toys. However, you can follow the Montessori principles while choosing toys.

1. Real material and tools

Children want to be included in our daily tasks and need real tools to help toward their independence. Toys cleaning set or toys gardening tools are not as useful as the realistic with real material ones. So avoid the fake pretend stuff and give them child size tools that works instead.

Gluckskafer Broom with Natural Horsehair

Haba Nutcracker

Goki Wheelbarrow

2. Reality based toys and books

While choosing a book, a puzzle or any other kind of toys, choose those that are realistic, maybe with real pictures. Avoid the cartoonish animals, the character based toys and such. Especially if your child is under 3 and even until he reaches 6 or 7 years old (when imagination based on fantasy appears naturally)

Fauna North European Birds Puzzle

Hape Emergency Vehicles puzzle

3 Natural material

For the sensory aspect, privilege natural material. For babies and toddler who still mouth everything, it’s important to choose safe material and you can be reassured that everything on Yesbebe is safe!

4 Open ended material

For discovery, exploration and making play scenarios (children do this spontaneously with anything), provide open ended material such as blocks, natural items, boxes, balls…

Magic Wood 70 Creative Blocks

Pappoose Rainbow Balls 3.5mm

 

  1. Pretend playWhile it’s always best to offer the real experience (Cooking with your child instead of pretend kitchen), a bit of pretend play is great too (also because children like to play scenarios, like to replay what they have experienced already and like to repeat again and again). Children can pretend play without any specific toys but if you offer pretend play toys, privilege reality based ones (farm set, doll house, train tracks, …)

A farm:

Le Toy Van The Farmyard

A doll house:

Hape All Seasons House – Fully Furnished

Realistic figurines:

Hape Happy Family – Asian

 

6. Skill

If you choose a toy to “teach” a skill, it’s best if it does only one thing at a time. For example, a shape jigsaw with 3 different shapes of the same size and the same colour. It’s difficult to find these kind of toys outside the specific Montessori material shops so best advice is to find the simplest ones or to simplify them. They should be self-correcting so the child can check his work without asking you (Like in a matching puzzle game, the pieces that go together are the only ones that fit together)

In this Grimms sorting game, children will sort by colour:

Grimms Small Sorting Game

In this one, the child will sort by colour at first, and can understand that they are more of one colour.

Hape Counting Stacker

The natural Grimm rainbow will allow the toddler to stack by size. However, it’s also an open ended material and many children will use this activity in various ways.

Grimms 6 Piece Natural Tunnel

A simple shape sorter, with only 3 shapes, perfect to start with

Hape 1-2-3 Shape Sorter

This 2 pieces puzzles from Orchard are self-correcting, only the pieces that go together fit together

Orchard Toys Jungle 2 Piece Puzzle

 

I hope you have enjoyed those recommendations and I will be back soon with more information about the Montessori education.

Please check out my site to find out more about Montessori!

www.montessori-family.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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