How to make Drop-off Awesome

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Dropping a child off at daycare or school can be a difficult thing to do. As a teacher, I have witnessed so many different drop-off scenarios; some successful and others just plain terrible. Here are 8 ways to make dropping your little one off a great success.

  1. Find out how drop-off works at the daycare/school ahead of time. At a Montessori school, parents are not invited into the classrooms because the classroom belongs to the children. Asking parents to say goodbye at the door establishes the space as belonging to the child.  In this case, parents will say goodbye at the classroom door or the school might have a car-line for drop-off.
  2. Discuss the way drop-off will work with your child ahead of time. Tell her exactly how it works and how exciting it is that she gets to attend her very own school.
  3. If your school does not have a car-line, have your child walk into the school on her own two feet. Walking in rather than being carried in empowers the child to feel independent in her school. Of course, you might need to carry a worried child into school for the first week or so.
  4. Create a good-bye routine with your child. Ask her what she would like to do when she says good bye to you. Is it three hugs and one kiss? A high-five and two fist-pumps? Whatever it is, make sure it is short and easy to remember and make sure your child knows that after is it over, you will be leaving and she will be staying at her amazing new school.
  5. Do not linger. This is by far the hardest part. Let your child know ahead of time that after your special good-bye routine she will walk into the classroom and you will leave. If your child balks, it is best to pick her up and place her in the classroom or into the arms of a teacher, say “I love you” and leave.  The longer you stay, the more your child will cry because she thinks she is actually going to get you to stay by crying. In my experience, most children have stopped crying and have started having fun in under five minutes of a tough arrival. The teachers are used to this and have lots of ideas for soothing your child.
  6. If the first few drop-offs are tough, email the teacher and ask her if she can join the routine in a more formal way.  Sometimes teachers are not sure when the parent is ready for help and the teacher does not want to just pick-up a crying child and take her away from her parent before the parent is ready. Tell the teacher that you have a routine and that you would like to put your child into the teacher’s arms right after the routine. Your child will begin to expect this and will feel comforted by the consistency of the routine. Within two weeks of a parent being super consistent at drop-off, children are usually walking in the door on their own.
  7. If the school provides a time-frame for drop-off and you are having tough drop-offs, do your best to arrive during that time-frame so that a teacher is ready and waiting to help your child transition. Once the drop-off time has passed, teachers are often involved with the children that have already arrived and begun the work of the day and will have less flexibility in holding and comforting a sad child.
  8. Stay positive about the school and show your child how happy you feel about the teachers and the environment. Children are so perceptive and can tell when we are feeling anxious and if their parents are not sure about this new place then why would they be.

Have any other good ideas for drop-off? Please share them so that we can all benefit!

 

Montessori for the Very Active Toddler

Montessori for The very active toddler

Isn’t every toddler a very active toddler? Yes, all toddlers are very active, and in the same breath, I find that my son is particularly active. It is rare that he will become absorbed in the use of a toy, even a really cool Montessori toy, for much longer than a few minutes. It could be that I’m a Montessori teacher and I have wacky expectations for my child to want to sit and use blocks for ten minutes all by himself, but in observing other toddlers, I can see a difference. I find that M is looking for something other than individualized Montessori works at the moment. He is looking for involvement in household chores, using WATER, outdoor exploration and lots and lots of movement.

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So, if you find that your toddler, like mine, is just not very interested in sitting and doing blocks or arranging small cars and trains, have no fear. Paula Polk Lillard is here to save the day. Paula Polk Lillard is the author of the book Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home from Birth to Age Three.  I was recently re-reading her chapter on practical life and I felt very relieved by what she had written.IMG_2360

She quotes Montessori in reference to children who are newly able to walk, “At this age just toys, especially light toys, do not satisfy the child. He can do nothing with them.” Tell me more Paula. Parents can include children in “setting and clearing the table, unloading groceries, preparing food, baking, pouring water and juice, wiping the table, washing dishes, sorting and folding laundry, putting away clothes, dusting, sweeping and mopping, washing a mirror or window, polishing a shoe, picking up a room, emptying wastepaper baskets, watering plants and arranging flowers” (Paula Polk Lillard).

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Montessori Spotlight Interview at Baan Dek Montessori

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http://baandek.org/posts/spotlight-real-life-montessori/

If you have not heard about the Baan Dek Montessori school and blog, I recommend that you check it out. The blog is BEAUTIFUL and the school looks wonderful. I hope to make a visit one day to see this AMI accredited school it all of it’s glory.

I got to be a part of their Spotlight Interview series and it was so much fun to answer the questions as it got me thinking about my future goals and what I truly love about Montessori (which is actually everything). Check it out at the link above!

Updated Play Space For M at 21 Months

I finally updated our play space and oh how it has changed!

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Below is the before photo:

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We now have a music area with a children’s piano that I picked up for $15 at Once Upon a Child. I was pretty excited to say the least.

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I played a few songs for M from one of his Music Together books and then he ran to get one of our favorite books, The Wonderful Things You Will Be and put it on the piano assuming that all books have music that accompany them. So of course I made up a little tune for this book as well. Continue reading

Montessori Style Entry Way

 

“…if we observe natural development with sufficient care, we see that it can be defined as the gaining of successive levels of independence.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 76)

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I was recently inspired by a blog post from  Frida be Mighty  to update our entry way to provide M, at 19 months old, the opportunity to independently hang up his coat, put away his shoes and to find his hat and mittens. It has been surprising how attached M has become to the routine of getting ready to leave the house and organizing his items after arriving home.

Because the space is orderly and child-sized, M is able to be independent. Spaces like this appeal to the strong sense of order that we see from children this age and they also build a child’s sense of order as the external order is eventually internalized by the child. Independently preparing to leave the home and organizing items upon arrival builds confidence, concentration and certainly fine motor skills. (zippers require a lot of finger strength!)

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I was pleased that I was able to use a drill to install anchors in the plaster walls of our 100 year-old home to hang the coat hooks ( I got the coat hooks from Lowes for $7.00).

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I then re-arranged a small shelf to serve as our shoe organizer. I added two baskets on top of the shelf. One for gloves and the other for hats. Finally I added a small stool for M to sit on while taking his shoes on and off. (Yes, the stool has M’s face decoupaged all over it. It was a gift from his aunt that makes us all chuckle.)

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Here he is holding on to the shelf to put on his own boots. That’s my clogging board in the foreground of the photo. M appears to be ready for a pair of his own tap shoes these days.