I don't want to hear that toddlers cannot be trusted. That they might break something. Hell no, don't give them a glass! I agree that some homes aren't set up to provide children with a real glass, that some parents aren't ready (and that's completely ok), but please don't say that a two year old cannot be trusted. If you believe (in general) that two year olds cannot be trusted with real crockery please visit a Montessori community, please book in to visit your closest Montessori school and see it for yourself. They can be trusted, they can be gentle and careful if given the right opportunity.
Otis is not unique in his ability. He will (and has) throw toys but never a glass. Why is that do you think? He will (and has) pulled leaves off a plant. But he can also do this...
Montessori provides children with the opportunity to be gentle. Allowing a child to demonstrate their ability can be such a rewarding experience.
With this Japanese bell the more gentle you ring it the nicer it sounds. Be rough and it sounds blunt.
I have been working really hard with Otis to help him to dress himself. So often I take over. He can get his pants on. Once his head is through his shirt he can put his arms through. It's a process!
On our block shelves I attached a photograph to help guide Caspar when packing up the blocks. He likes to put the blocks back in the same place but as his building work often uses all the blocks he has trouble remembering where they came from. This helps his sense of order. (We are using a playstand for shelving and as much as I'd like to I couldn't draw outlines on the shelves themselves).
While Caspar was at school Otis and I put up some architectural images in the block room. I love the diversity. Images from here. I've only put them on the wardrobe door with blutack so if Caspar wants to study an image closer it's easy for him to remove.
Caspar and I have been enjoying The Wonderland of Nature by Nuri Mass. It's a beautiful, beautiful book that I found via some Australian homeschooling links. It's really charming, it comes in a story form with verse among facts and illustrations. I get so much inspiration from homeschoolers and love to read through their resource lists. I've had a couple of nature study handbooks recommended to me (Anna Comstock is highly regarded) however this is the ONLY Australian one I think exists. First published in 1964 it's considered an Australian nature classic. The age guide is 5-12 years. Such a wonderful by-chance find.
We tried taking a nature walk at night - an attempt to wear-out Otis and have him relaxed and tired before bed. It didn't work.
With Otis turning two next month I thought it was time to refresh my memory about sensitive periods. I know at two years he is in or nearing the sensitive period for so many things. But what is a sensitive period and what should we expect at two years?
What is a 'Sensitive Period'?
Through observation Maria Montessori discovered the stages of development that all children follow. She found that children go through very specific and well defined periods of interest in certain areas of their development.
Maria Montessori believed that the human brain is specially predisposed for learning during the sensitive period. She believed that parents, teachers and caregivers need to observe the child and respond accordingly to these sensitive periods - to provide an environment that meets the need of the child and further encourages the child through that specific stage of development.
Sensitive periods are transitory states. It is considered easier to acquire the skill or knowledge while the child is in the sensitive period. Outside the sensitive period learning still occurs however it is more arduous and often requires more time and effort.
During each of these time frames, varying in duration from months to years, the child is so focused on the particular development that he will ignore other phenomena previously of great interest to him. His energy level and dedication to his single-minded task are extraordinary but terminate just as abruptly as they began. Montessori called these intervals Sensitive Periods. - Montessori from the Start.
When parents and teachers recognise and take advantage of the sensitive periods through which children pass, they can become more effective in supporting their learning and development. - How to Raise and Amazing Child the Montessori Way.
What should we expect at two years?
At two years a child is in the sensitive period for;
Some of the other sensitive periods include;
Movement (birth - one year)
Writing (three - four years)
Reading (three - five years)
Mathematics (four - six years).
I'm reminded not to forget the sensitive periods for Caspar at five years. This week he has spoken specifically about two items of work from school - the number roll (he calls it the thousand roll) and subtraction (I think he's been using the Subtraction Strip Board). Sensitive period for mathematics anyone?
Pictured are Montessori time lines for development for movement (top) and language (above) from The Absorbent Mind. The time lines run from 0 (birth) to two years and six months.
It's likely this will be our last toilet learning post. Otis has slipped seamlessly (and without fault) into night time toileting. We're at the end of our toilet learning journey. If you are at the start of your journey I have a few ideas and suggestions. Absolutely every child is different so we need to be flexible however your approach and your attitude are most important. It's not luck that Otis is toilet trained. We are very fortunate that he is healthy and that I am able to stay at home with him which helps. But what got him 'trained' was persistence, patience and consistency.
Our very first step in Otis toilet learning was to get him out of a nappy. Training pants were crucial in this process. Otis toilet learned in steps and this is a brief summary.1. DAY: TRAINING PANTS (AT HOME) NAPPY (WHEN OUT) NIGHT: NAPPY
During the day at home Otis consistently wore training pants. At night and when we left the house during the day he wore a nappy. While at home we offered him the potty and if he looked like he needed to go (we recognised the signs - mainly holding his pants) we took him to the potty.
2. DAY: TRAINING PANTS NIGHT: NAPPY
Slowly we transitioned to Otis wearing training pants everywhere during the day. The training pants he wore at this stage (from Michael Olaf but now discontinued) held so there were no puddles but Otis needed tending to immediately. At this stage he was still wearing a nappy at night.
3. DAY: UNDERWEAR (AT HOME) TRAINING PANTS (WHEN OUT) NIGHT: NAPPY
Slowly we transitioned Otis to wearing underwear at home and only wearing training pants when we left the house. The training pants gave us confidence that if Otis had an accident most of it would be caught - no puddles on the shop floor, but Otis and his clothes would still be wet. Otis was wearing Under the Nile Infant Training Pants (12-24 months). At this stage he was still wearing a nappy at night. This was the longest period of three to four months.
4. DAY: UNDERWEAR NIGHT: NAPPY
As Otis became more confident and regular at using the potty he transitioned to wearing underwear all the time during the day and wore a nappy at night.
5. DAY: UNDERWEAR NIGHT: UNDERWEAR
Otis became so confident going to the potty that at night he would take his nappy off. He transitioned to wearing underwear all of the time. He will sometimes use the potty at night but usually waits until morning. When he wakes in the morning he usually goes straight to the potty. I try to limit his fluids before bed but he still nurses before bed and during the night. I also ask him to use the potty before bed but he's stubborn and generally refuses.
As I mentioned we would offer Otis the potty when it looked like he need to go and before we left the house. Often when he wakes from his nap or returns from outings he needs to go to the potty straight away.
It was important to us that we remained (as much as possible) emotionally detached from the process. While I looked pleased when we had success it was important to us not to praise or punish. We also never pressured Otis. If he looked like he needed to use the potty but refused to do so, I would take his hand and try to lead him to the potty, if he still refused I would leave him and generally he would wet his pants. Then he would come with me to the potty to get changed/cleaned up. We never forced him to use the potty, we never used harsh words, threatened or bribed. If he wet his pants - he wet his pants, we just got on with it.
We have a step stool and toddler seat on our toilet which Otis has begun using. He uses the potty and the toilet standing and sitting. We have a potty in the car which I offered to Otis before he was able to hold for a decent period. On every outing I would offer him the potty when we arrived and before we departed. He rarely used it. Recently he has shown that he can hold and often uses public toilets (school, sports stadiums, shops), although he likes to remove his underwear, pants/short, shoes and socks and I will hold him while he sits on the toilet.
If you read through our Toilet Learning Posts you will know we've had up and downs and I've found travelling and finding us out of routine particularly difficult. There has been mess and lots of cleaning up. But now we're done at 22 months, it's completely worth it.
If you are at the start or in the middle of toilet learning, no matter which method you are using - I wish you the very best.
P.S. I've had some critical looks when Otis has had an accident in public. No matter the age of the child - young or old, please be kind to other parents.
I put some old coats and jackets into a basket and presented it to Otis. There are zips and buttons to explore. It's our home version of the dressing frames - a fun practical life activity.
Over the period of a day Otis made a lot of progress. He loves the zips and snap fasteners. As I walk through the house and put away laundry I'm looking for other types of fasteners, buckles and the like.
After school I found Caspar sitting at Otis's table working with some of the coats. It's really good for him too, especially lining up the two pieces of the jacket and threading the zipper.
Perhaps I should visit the thrift store, they might have some interesting and alternative fasteners?