Raising Resilient Children

Raising Resilient Children

Webster defines resiliency as:  “The ability to withstand or recover from difficult conditions.”

Think of all of the people you know.  Some are more flexible than others and able to adjust to new situations and overcome obstacles that get in their way.   They adapt.

Others are resistant to change and new situations that make them uneasy.  They are afraid to make mistakes and therefore hesitant to take risks and try something new.

Some of these personality characteristics may be inherited but many times the difference can be how we were brought up.

“It is not whether you get knocked down – but whether you get back up.”

– Vince Lombardi

Was independence encouraged when you were growing up?   Many young children are able to dress themselves if allowed the opportunity to do so.  Sometimes their pants may be backwards and their socks inside out, but as long as they are safe does it really matter?

We often hear parents describe power struggles with their children regarding decisions over what to eat and wear.  These disagreements regarding whether your 6-year-old should wear a coat will usually end if you allow them to play outside on a cold day.  If they are cold, they will almost always come back inside for a coat.   Providing your child with healthy snack choices; an apple, yogurt or an orange, gives them the opportunity for decision-making and a feeling of independence.  These choices give parents the comfort of knowing their child is eating healthy food.

Permitting your child to make age-appropriate decisions and then allowing them to realize the consequences can help children become both independent as well as resilient.

Did your parents encourage taking risks and trying new things?  Not such as sky diving of course, but trying a brand new sport or having a new friend over for a play date.  When they are older trying theatre or the debate team – something they have never attempted before.  Or taking a new class in school that may seem overwhelming?

Our middle son (a freshman in high school) begged to take several difficult classes, we were hesitant but agreed to allow him this decision.  It was a risk because when you are in high school your grade point “counts” with regards to college admissions.  Turns out he relished the challenge and worked harder than ever to do well.  It was his decision – and because of this he had a vested interest in succeeding.

Encourage your children to challenge themselves when possible.  Set high but realistic expectations and expect them to do well.  Expose your child to many experiences such as music concerts, museums, sporting events and theatre.  Lead by example and try new things taking a few risks yourself!

“If you never try, you will never know.” – Unknown

Was making mistakes considered something to avoid at all costs or a chance to learn something new?   This attitude shift of not fearing mistakes but learning from them is essential.  Parents do a disservice to their children by rescuing them from challenges.  If they don’t make mistakes, how will they learn?

Create an environment where, whenever possible, children can solve their own problems.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new.”

– Albert Einstein

Disappointment.  This is huge.   So many parents don’t want their children to experience disappointment.  Not getting the latest toy that ALL of their friends have.  Not being invited to a birthday party.  Not making the travel baseball team.  We rush in to fill every whim and desire children have.  This is one of the worst things parents can do in attempting to encourage resiliency in their children.

Instead, talk to your children about how they feel.  Show and teach empathy – that you understand that they are sad and disappointed.  Teach them techniques for dealing with disappointment.  Counting the many good things they have to be thankful for.  Asking them how they could do it differently next time.   If your child is in a place where they are able to listen, share a story of a disappointment you had growing up.  Your honesty will help them understand that disappointment is a natural part of life.

Many times a parents’ job will be to sit quietly with your arm around your child’s shoulder.  I speak from experience when I say these disappointments in life are often times as hard or harder on the parents as they are on the child.  It may seem absolutely brutal to watch your child struggle with disappointment, but it is of course a fact of life.

The important factor here is that your child learns that they have someone that loves them standing quietly by their side.

Resilient individuals take responsibility for both their successes as well as for their failures.  Blaming others seems to have become more prevalent in recent times.  In sports we blame the referee for a teams loss instead of the efforts by the players themselves.  We blame teachers for a child’s academic setbacks instead of asking what we as parents can do to help and improve the situation.

Help teach your children that they are ultimately responsible for the choices they make. Did your child leave his toy outside and it was ruined or stolen?  Were they paying attention when homework was assigned in class?  Are they kind to friends and treat others with respect?

Our lives are the direct result of the choices we make.  My brother-in-law, Jeff always has the same line when his two twin boys are going out to play:  “Make good choices!”  What a wonderful message for these boys to contemplate.

As parents we should practice what we preach and take responsibility for our actions and choices as well.

So with all of this disappointment and all of these mistakes happening at your house children are going to need a network of support.  That is where you come in.  You are not solving their problems or bailing them out, but you are there to listen and empathize.  Parents can teach patience and empathy as well as provide unconditional love and support.  Standing quietly by their side whenever needed.

Teaching resiliency is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.


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Top 10+ Questions on My Works Montessori

FAQ’s About My Works

What is My Works and why was it created?

We created My Works Montessori because while teaching at a Montessori preschool, we observed a need for accessible parent education on how to easily and affordably incorporate Montessori activities at home.

We also wanted to find a way for parents to learn about this philosophy that may NOT be able to otherwise have their children attend Montessori schools.

My Works provides parent education by using easy to understand video presentations of Montessori activities – by AMS certified teachers – that can be easily implemented by parents at home.

Our dream is to create an interactive on-line Montessori community to share ideas and promote early childhood education.  Each of us has a different set of life experiences, so the ultimate goal for My Works is to create a truly interactive website.  We have members all over the WORLD and we enjoy the opportunity to share ideas and experiences while inspiring young children.

How do I use the My Works site?

Much of the MWM (i.e. My Works Montessori) site is free.  In our resources section we have parenting webcasts, a blog, book recommendations, information on the Montessori method, glossary of Montessori terms and much more.

There is also a video lesson section for members.  In this area there are short videos that show you how to work with your children on things such as sensorial activities, science experiments, art projects, beginning math as well as language and pre-reading lessons.

What ages are these videos created for?

My Works Montessori was created for children ages 3 – 6 years by fully certified AMS (American Montessori Society) teachers.   The activities are listed in order from beginner to more advance.

Can home school families use these videos?

Yes!  We have many home school families all over the world that currently use these activities and lessons as enrichment to their child’s current curriculum.

Will I need to purchase materials to use these lessons?

Most of the My Works Montessori activities can be done with items you already have in your home.  At the beginning of each lesson we show you exactly what you will need and tips for working with your young children.

Some materials, especially the activities in the “Sensorial” area may work best with the specifically designed Montessori material/ manipulative, but we will show you where to find that item if you choose to purchase them.

Other materials in the language, math, science and cultural areas can be found from companies such as Montessori Print Shop.  MPS has found a wonderful way to print materials (on your own printer!) and create beautiful activities to use with your children at home.


How will I know how to present these lessons?

We have videos, webinars and blogs that explain step-by-step suggestions and tips for working with young children.  Concepts such as the importance of movement, following the child to discover what they are interested in and the power of observation.

How are the lessons organized?

Incorporating the five key areas of the Montessori classroom, My Works organizes its’ video lessons into the following sections;  Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language and Cultural & Science.

AMS certified teachers using common sense language explain the importance of each lesson and the skills gained.  A step-by-step presentation on how to create and introduce children to these materials is clearly explained and easy to follow.  Most videos show how to create the materials using affordable household items and fun extension activities for additional exploration between parent and child.

How often should I present a new activity to my child?

After much research watching how young children learn, Dr. Montessori taught us to “follow the child”.  Watch for what they are interested in and help them to follow those interests.  If you are working together on an activity and the child seems to be loosing interest you could try either adding movement to that lesson, or you can put it away for another day!

This experience should be fun and encourage both spontaneous learning as well as further curiosity.

We are attempting to show parents how even a discussion on raindrops can increase a child’s interest and curiosity about their world!

If you are curious and interested in learning new things, chances are your child will follow your lead.

Do these lessons replace my child going to a preschool?

The value of a child enjoying experiences with other children is priceless.  They learn critical social skills, teamwork, getting along with others and how to interact.  Taking turns, being disappointed, problem solving how to deal with issues such as having your feelings hurt.

Teachers offer children the opportunity to trust other adults besides there parents and explore their world in a new, safe and loving environment.

Parents and children each learn the very first steps of independence.

If you do not have access to a preschool environment – no worries.  Try to find other ways for your child to interact with children their age.  Play dates where you know your children will be safe and happy are one option.  And remember that simple life’s lessons such as arguing over a toy or not wanting to share are huge opportunities/ lessons in growing up and allowing your child to learn how to get along in their world.

Don’t avoid all obstacles for your child!  Otherwise, how will they learn?

How frequently will My Works be coming out with new lessons?

We add new lessons, blogs and webinars to our site each month!

How can Montessori Schools benefit from the My Works web site?

My Works is a huge advocate for Montessori schools by promoting and marketing accredited Montessori schools around the world with the My Works Partner School Program.


Montessori Schools benefit in the following ways:

  • Parent Education – Parent education is essential to improve parent/teacher communication.  As well as, helping parents understand the Montessori Philosophy so they understand the importance and value of this method of education.
  • Increased school visibility and publicity with prospective parents – When a Montessori School becomes a member of My Works Montessori, the school is advertised and promoted with detailed descriptions of their schools information on the MWM website.  In addition, member schools are encouraged to share school events with MWM as we will then publicize our member schools activities on our blog and in our social networks.
  • Montessori education/ orientation for assistants and classroom helpers – Some assistant teachers in a Montessori classroom may not have had the opportunity to attend a formal paraprofessional Montessori Training Program.  The videos on the My Works Montessori site allow new assistant teachers the opportunity to better understand the lesson, and learn how to present to the children in the classroom setting.   We can in no way attempt to replace an accredited training program, but until a teacher is able to attend such a program, we can at least help as an introduction.
  • School fundraising opportunity – All My Works Montessori Member Schools receive 50% of each family they refer to MWM website.

For example:  Montessori School “A”  refers 25 parents to MWM site.  Those 25     parents sign up for a monthly membership in the amount of $19.99 per/mo.  Montessori School “A” receives approximately $250 per/mo. in fundraising dollars for their school.  These fundraising dollars can be a wonderful help in purchasing new materials for your schools classrooms!

What is My Works goal?

Encouraging young children to ask questions and be curious.

You may be smiling at this answer because as all parents know, the quantity of questions a young child can have is incomprehensible at times.  And most of these rapid-fire questions seem to come when we are either focused on driving the car or on the phone.

But curious and creative children tend to grow up to become curious and creative adults.

Early childhood is an amazing time to begin inspiring young children.  As your child’s first teacher you have a unique opportunity to begin this journey of discovery with your child.  If you are active and engaged in learning new things, your child can’t help but naturally follow.

My Works goal is not to stress parents out with lesson plans and rigid curriculum but instead to inspire daily interaction with your young children.

Asking them questions… listening to their thoughts … dreaming about all that is out there.

My Works is here if you need inspiration and ideas on fun activities and ways to spend time with your child.


Several other FAQ’s are answered with videos on the My Works web site – such as:

  • Who was Dr. Maria Montessori?
  • How will My Works benefit my child?
  • Is the Montessori method right for every child?
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Parenting with “Love and Logic” by educator Jane Moulton

Parenting Strategies:  Love and Logic

By Jane Moulton

Would you like to learn strategies that put the fun back into parenting?  Would you like to learn practical techniques for enhancing communication between you and your children?  Well, I have a program for you that will do just that.  It is called Love And Logic.

Principles of Love And Logic:

  • Uses strategies that will maintain your child’s self esteem.
  • Shares the control with your kids by giving choices.  This allows kids to share the thinking.
  • Offers empathy and understanding.  Allows kids to have the gift of struggle and with time, solve their own problems.
  • Provides a strong dose of empathy.

How do we do this?

Give your kids lots of choices about things that don’t matter to you.  The more we give, the more we get.  Give 99% of choices when things are going well.  Provide choices that are not dangerous or cause a problem for someone else.  Always give choices that make you, the parents, happy.  Show the child that you will choose for them if he/ she doesn’t choose in ten seconds.

Here are examples of choices:

  • Do you want to wear your red shirt today or your blue one?
  • Do you want juice or milk for breakfast?
  • Do you want to put on your p.j.  tops or bottoms first?
  • Would you like to go to the bathroom first or brush your teeth?
  • Would you like to read this or the other book before bedtime?

Choices become a deposit in your child’s account.   The more choices we give the more appreciative and cooperative they become.

Using Enforceable Statements:   These statements describe limits that we can actually enforce 100% of the time. They become meaningful words that can back up an action.

Here are a few statements that might make your morning hassle free:

  • Breakfast is served at  __ o’clock.  Then 15 minutes after breakfast is served, the bowl or plate gets put up and breakfast is over.  This keeps your kid from dawdling at mealtime.
  • I give treats to kids who protect their teeth by brushing.
  • The car is leaving in four minutes … then set your timer.  They may have to go with clothes in a bag, but this will only happen once!

Thoughts on Bedtime:

Your toddler loves sleeping in your bed.  Dad and Mom are tired of this and want their bed back.  Wean your kid to a sleeping bag and each night move the bag out a little farther until it is in the hallway or maybe in the child’s room.  One suggestion I have heard comes from one of my daughters-in-law:  Buy your child a pet, such as a fish and tell your child he has to be big and stay in his room to take care of the pet.

Much more on bedtime in the Love and Logic books.

Power struggles and/ or temper tantrums:

Children have tantrums to get attention and sometimes are willing to act up with bad behavior for any type of attention at all.

First remove yourself from the tantrum somewhere you can see the child but he cannot see you.  Usually this is all it takes because temper tantrums need an audience.  Set limits in a loving way.  Use empathy when giving a logical consequence.  It could mean bedroom time – a minute per year – or so many minutes AFTER the child calms down

The reason we give choices is to provide some of the control to our kids.   This way when they are in the middle of a power struggle you can say,  ”Don’t I give you lots of choices?  Well, this time it’s my choice.”  Finally, with EMPATHY you say, “This is my choice for you.”

These are just a few examples of the Love and Logic Parenting program.  There are many helpful books and DVD’s to help parents.

For more information on books and programs you can go to the Love and Logic web site:


Jane Moulton’s bio:

Jane has taught in public elementary schools for thirty years.  She created a parent/educator early childhood program for her district using the Parents as Teachers Curriculum.  Jane has been a facilitator for the Love and Logic Parenting program for nineteen years.  She is the Mother of four grown sons, four daughter-in-laws and Grandmother to eleven amazing grandkids, ages 4 – 18.

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My Works… What is it?

What is My Works Montessori???

We get that question a lot.  🙂

My Works Montessori is a web site created for parents by fully certified AMS (American Montessori Society) preschool teachers and parents.  Using a video format we show parents ways to inspire young children and spend time together exploring all the amazing things in our world.

Young children are naturally curious and we have created play-based lessons to encourage this curiosity.

We include lessons such as:

Science:  The planets in our solar system

Language:  Sound lesson bingo

Math:  Estimation jar

Art:  Projects to encourage creativity

What My Works is not:

My Works lessons are NOT designed to be at-home drills or feel like homework for your child.  These lessons should be fun and children should enjoy this time spent together.  If they seem bored with one activity, move on to something else!

What kind of parent are you?

The recent hot debate over the book: “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua has brought to our attention different styles of parenting and created an important conversation about what type of parents we want to be.

We walk a fine line as parents.  We want to support our kids and appreciate them for who they are.  Yet we also feel a responsibility to encourage children to reach their full potential.  Not to mention the fact that each child is different and what works with one child may not work for another.

Are we too tough on our kids or do we expect too little?  Sometimes it depends on the day and how tired we are!

There are many helpful books for parents such as “Parenting with Love and Logic” by Jim Fay and Foster Cline.  The authors describe different types of parenting styles such as helicopter parents that rush in and “rescue” their kids from life’s struggles and drill sergeant parents who control their child’s every move and make all decisions for them.

Fay and Cline explain that while either of these styles of parenting may work with younger children, it will not serve them well once they become teenagers and the backlash can begin.  Allowing children to make mistakes and learn from them is one of the best tools a child can develop as they grow.  Independence is ultimately the key.

Research/ Studies on Parenting:

One consistent finding in parenting research is simple.  Spending time with our kids whenever we can.  When they are young of course, but just as importantly when they are teenagers. 

Talking with them.  Laughing together.  Dreaming/ thinking about the future.

Parenting is about choices.  There are many times we are not able to spend time with our children because of work etc.  If we are honest with ourselves there are situations when you do have time, think about the choices you make:

  • Reading a story to your young child. VS  Spending time on Facebook, on the phone or surfing the web.
  • Actively learning about the planets in our solar system or different types of frogs. VS  Children passively sitting alone using electronics.
  • Taking your 15 year old to a movie on a Friday night. VS  Going out with the neighbors.

By slowing down and taking those moments – it can make all the difference.

Always encouraging and motivating your child to be curious and to try new experiences and challenges.

Heading to college…

It has been a time for reflection at our house, as our oldest (and only daughter) will be graduating from high school in four short months.  After years of intense hard work and determination she has been accepted to a college that is perfect for her.  One of her dreams has come true and she is so excited for the future that she actually glows.

Our daughter’s success was 100% her effort and ultimately the decision to work hard had to be hers alone.

We did our best to be in the background if needed for support and encouragement.  When she was little we read books to her every night.  As she grew we would get excited about whatever excited her.  Softball at age 5 , Harry Potter at 7, theatre, soccer and most recently Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks 🙂 – we were “following the child” before I even knew about Maria Montessori.

Always trying to stimulate her curiosity and encourage her to be fearless in trying new things.

Of course she stumbled a few times over the last 18 years – but always gets back up swinging… perseverance is truly a beautiful quality.  Making mistakes and learning from them.

As a teenager, her Dad and I casually attempt to strike up conversations in the kitchen as to how things are going and keep in close contact.  (Trust us – NOT always easy!!!)  We also try to go into our kid’s rooms in the evening to say goodnight.  This can be especially hard to do when you are tired but sometimes that quiet part of the day is the only time you discover an issue that you may be able to provide some guidance on.   Not solving problems for them – but being there just to listen.  Of course you can offer suggestions but ultimately they must make decisions on their own.

At times as parents we have been too strict perhaps, and other times too lenient – making lots of mistakes.  Walking that “fine line” as best we could.   It goes by so fast.

We have two boys as well so lots more parenting mistakes to look forward to in the coming years!

Taking the time – when you can.

My Works is one way to find fun activities for you to be present with your child in their earliest years, exploring the world together.

Getting into early habits of talking with your young children, laughing together and dreaming about the future.

It will be here before you know it.

We (at My Works) will be here if you need any inspiration/ ideas in the meantime.


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Searching for a Preschool?

Finding A Preschool For Your Child.

If this is your first time searching for a preschool we know what a confusing experience it can be.  The pressure to find a quality school can make even rational parents become a bit crazy.

Anyone who watches the popular TV show Modern Family appreciated the hilarious competition that developed to get one-year-old “Lily” on the waiting list for the “best” preschool.  Thank goodness it isn’t usually THAT bad.

Questions you may initially have are:

How will your child be placed into classrooms, divided by age?

What are the teacher’s credentials and experience?

What is the student-to-teacher ratio?

Are the children allowed to choose their own activities based on interest?

What is the cost of tuition?

What are the school’s discipline policies?

Do the schools hours of operation fit your needs?

Does your child need to be potty trained?

Will there be plenty of outdoor time for physical activity?

Any preschool you are considering should provide a tour and time spent viewing a classroom in action, observing children actively engaged with each other and their teachers.

There are many choices in the style of programs such as play-based vs. academic and there is conflicting research/ opinions as to whether early academics help children succeed in elementary school and beyond.  Programs that allow the child to learn at their own pace while providing materials and lessons to stimulate curiosity and encourage exploration would be a great objective.  This is a hot topic so do some research.

An often-overlooked aspect in early childhood classrooms are the social and emotional environment.  Important life skills such as:  learning how to initiate and maintain friendships, getting along with others and eventually working together as a team.  Learning to connect and relate with others will help your child successfully develop relationships for the rest of their life.

Time spent outdoors with nature can be invaluable to a child’s education as well.  Children who learn in an environment with physical activity and a connection with nature have been shown to enjoy school more as well as have greater retention in class.  Most importantly the kids are just happier with fresh air and exercise!  Go to any playground and there is your proof.  It is also no coincidence that if you ask the majority of elementary school boys what their favorite part of school is their answer is either gym class or recess.  Kids need movement!  (I know – we repeat ourselves a lot!)

In other words, does the preschool meet your child’s needs socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically?

Things you should ALSO be looking for in a preschool:

Does the school you’re considering have energetic and enthusiastic teachers that love to explore and investigate?

Does the staff encourage curiosity and creative problem solving?

One of the best teachers I know is constantly looking for creative ways to inspire the 3 – 6 year old children in her classroom.  After doing research she brought in an entire series of science related experiments using water.  There were tubes and funnels and pipes and lots and lots of sponges and towels.  The children LOVED these lessons and these materials were never on the shelf because the kids were constantly using them and experimenting and making messes.  Water was everywhere.  The children in her class were excited to come into the classroom each day and see what “Miss Sue” had brought for them to explore.  At every age learning should be exciting to children and encourage further exploration.

Are the children allowed to choose their activities based on interest?  Letting a young child follow their interests is a great way to engage and encourage passion and curiosity.  Maria Montessori describes this as:  “Following the child.”  Children joyfully discovering how to make bubbles one day and learning about the animals of Africa the next!

When you visit the school are children having fun and engaged?

Do your research as not all schools are the same.  If you are looking at a Montessori school for instance, not all require full teacher certification.

Ultimately your child will get into the college he or she is MEANT for based not on the pedigree of the preschool they attended but on their own personal determination, ambition and curiosity.  Attempt to find schools and teachers that encourage just that.

“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”

–   William Butler Yeats

Helpful resources:

Bam Radio Education Network:  “Early Childhood Burnout: Are we pushing Children Too Hard?” Rae Pica – Author/ child development expert.


Bam Radio Education Network:  “Putting ABC’s Before Social Skills” Mark Ginsberg, Executive Director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children



Mayo Clinic/ Child Development Chart: Preschool milestones (below link) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/child-development/MY00136

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Resolutions: Cleaning Up My Act

Happy New Year!

Resolution # 17:  Clean Up My Act.

Clean body/ clean mind?   Clear house/ clear mind?

My three kids will tell you that I love to make up quotes when I can’t find one that works.  They will also tell you that we do not always have a clean house.

So why am I writing about the importance of keeping your home organized?  Because after seventeen years with kids, the reality is when a home is organized (with an entire team effort of course)  everything else is better as a result.

There are a few families that have this concept mastered. These folks rarely have a messy pile of papers on their desks, counters or washing machines.

This blog is for the rest of us… who have been known to dump huge piles of “stuff” into a closet or clothes dryer when guests are on their way over.

I know, I KNOW… you don’t have time and no one helps out.  But if we promise that taking the time to keep your home a bit more organized and clutter-free would help your family be happier – would you give it a try?

Here is the truth, it doesn’t have to be clean every single moment – we have to be REAL here!  But if you can set up some sort of schedule for your family to become accustomed to… developing healthy family habits is the goal.

In the Montessori classroom it works like a dream.  I am not kidding it really does!  We are all (children and teachers) responsible for keeping our classroom beautiful.  We take great pride in making sure it is clean and feels organized.  Everything has a place and the children know where everything goes and they can do it all themselves.  Do they have to be reminded occasionally to put a lesson away?   Of course!  But – when water is spilled?  They know where the clean towels are and where to put the dirty ones.  Dry spills on the floor?  We have a dust pan and brush and even the three-year-olds know how to use it!

Children can learn responsibility at a very young age.  If you create an atmosphere of accountability – where they are a part of the cleaning process – they will be much more likely to maintain a daily routine.  Does this effort take time?  Of course, but in the long run it will be time very well spent.

A few simple ideas:

Meals:  Setting the table. Preparing the meals. Clean up such as putting things away and dishes in dishwasher.  Additionally, meal planning is great fun for children and they are more likely to enjoy their dinner if they had some say in planning it!

Laundry:  Even very young children can sort lights and darks, carry small baskets and help with basic folding.  Encourage them to match all the socks!

My three kids have done their own laundry since they were in fifth grade – I am not kidding.  Most importantly, I am not responsible if their soccer uniform isn’t clean.  How do I make sure the laundry is put away and not left in basket indefinitely?  I give them a choice;  “I can help you put it away now or you can do it by yourself before you watch TV tonight.”  Works every time.

Dust/ Vacumm:  Younger children LOVE doing this!!!  (Teenagers, not so much.)  Will it be perfect?  No – but who cares.  We have both a dog and a cat at our house so any vacuuming is extremely helpful.

Toys: If you have a bin or “place” for their things, they will know just what to do.  In our classrooms we have small rugs that children keep their “work” on.  This way it isn’t all over the floor.

Papers:  Having school-age children means having a TON of papers.  (So many trees.)  Keeping the piles under control can help when it comes to looking for lost homework.  Have a simple filing system for papers to be saved and teach children how to recycle the papers they no longer need or want.

Tip: Remember to make sure it is the child’s responsibility to do their homework in a timely manner and get it all back into his/ her backpack when finished.  There are always a few “beginning of the school year” phone calls (from unnamed children now in the elementary school office) because he/ she left their homework on the kitchen table.  Do I bring it to them?  If I did – would that teach them accountability?  (Homework is the subject of an entirely different blog!)

Practical life is what Maria Montessori called it.  Knowing how to take care of and take responsibility for yourself (even at a very young age) and mastering new independence and additional skills as you grow.

A little bit each day, once a week, once a month – finding what works best for your family.  It begins with baby steps.  Wiping up a spill, cleaning up your Legos, cleaning your room, cleaning up after a mistake you made, eventually and ultimately, pile by pile cleaning up your world.

It’s not that hard, it just takes lots of practice.



P.S.  And of course, this is always easier than Resolution # 9 – lose ten pounds.  😦


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Learning Over Spilled Milk

Many parents want the same thing for their child: success.  But there are many ways to define success: health, happiness, and independence.  And how do we help our kids get there?  Why is it that some children grow up and are independent, while others struggle?  There is, of course, no simple answer to this extremely complicated issue but there is one simple idea that parents can try. 

Let your child make mistakes.

Then – allow those mistakes to have natural consequences that will help them learn – each and every time.  

Mistakes in the preschool years are usually of small consequence such as spilled milk or hurting a friends’ feelings.   As children grow the mistakes become larger as do the complex issues that arise.  Eventually the child who has been allowed to make mistakes throughout his lifetime, and developed skills to problem solve through these events, will be better prepared.

Spilled Milk:  It happens almost daily with young children.  When parents do everything for their children, we take away the opportunity for them to learn to do it themselves. 

Independence begins in small ways and slowly grows – just like a seed in the ground.

Example:  A spill happens, the child looks up at parent, the parent calmly says:  “What should you do?”  The child remembers to go and get a towel and clean up mess.  (Have a bucket or container for clean towels and another one for the dirty – available in your home.)

Lessons learned:  1) problem solving, 2) responsibility and 3) independence.  

Broken/ lost toys:  If your child treats their toys roughly or does not take care of them by putting them away and something gets broken, do they learn a lesson if we buy them a replacement immediately? 

Example:  One year a child at our preschool was being too rough with a material and it was damaged.  At pick-up time the teacher quietly explained to the parent – with the child included in the discussion – what had happened.  On the drive home the parent and child discussed what should be done and the child helped come up with a solution.  This 4 year- old agreed to do some extra chores to help pay for a replacement for this broken classroom material.  Weeks later the child brought the replacement into his teacher.

Lesson Learned:  Natural consequences and taking responsibility for your actions.

Disappointment:  When children do not get their way they may pout and be extremely disappointed.  If parents give in to this behavior we create children who learn quickly that pouting and temper tantrums are effective ways to get what they want.

Examples of this scenario can be found at any local toy store.  J

Lesson learned:  It is a parent’s responsibility to teach children about disappointment.  They will experience this at almost every phase of life, learning resilience is helpful – one of the most valuable life skills imaginable!

Admitting when you are wrong.  Parents can begin to teach this by practicing themselves.  “I made a mistake and didn’t do what I said I would do – which was wrong.”  Or simply stating to your child: “I was wrong and I should not have done that.”

If your child makes a mistake and admits it, acknowledge that their action was wrong but that you appreciate them telling the truth about their actions.   This is a great opportunity for a discussion about doing the right thing and the importance of honesty! 

Learning to take responsibility when the offense is small helps develop a pattern of responsibility and strong character as they grow. 

Lesson learned:  Taking responsibility for your actions. 

How do we raise successful children?  There is so much more than simply teaching them to read and write. 

Allowing children to make mistakes at every age – and learn from them – is one of the best lessons a parent can provide.

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