montessori at home: painting

This week we did lots of paint orientated activities, looking at colours, drawing and pattern making and working on exploring our creative skills. First we had a little go with painting an object in different colours, then experimenting by mixing two colours together to create new ones.


It was fun to get him to try and guess that colours it would make and to see it change before our eyes.

Next we looked at drawing letters, and I wrote out his name and asked him to try and copy the letters. He's quite good at recognising the letters in his name, but this was the first time he attempted to write them out himself, just by copying and I think he did a pretty great job!

 And lastly we tried a little bit of pattern making using different fruits and vegetables and seeing what patterns they printed on the page. We looked and talked about the different pieces, which shapes they were, the colours and the names. Then we covered them in paint and set about printing on the page.


We used a lemon, onion, celery, broccoli, tomato and a pine cone to try some different shapes and the results were pretty good! Some worked better than others and we found that the less paint the clearer the patterns were, it was good to talk about what shapes we saw. I forgot to take pictures of the finished prints but will have to update that!

Do you have any suggestions of other good things to try and make patterns?

montessori at home: painting

This week we did lots of paint orientated activities, looking at colours, drawing and pattern making and working on exploring our creative skills. First we had a little go with painting an object in different colours, then experimenting by mixing two colours together to create new ones.


It was fun to get him to try and guess that colours it would make and to see it change before our eyes.

Next we looked at drawing letters, and I wrote out his name and asked him to try and copy the letters. He's quite good at recognising the letters in his name, but this was the first time he attempted to write them out himself, just by copying and I think he did a pretty great job!

 And lastly we tried a little bit of pattern making using different fruits and vegetables and seeing what patterns they printed on the page. We looked and talked about the different pieces, which shapes they were, the colours and the names. Then we covered them in paint and set about printing on the page.


We used a lemon, onion, celery, broccoli, tomato and a pine cone to try some different shapes and the results were pretty good! Some worked better than others and we found that the less paint the clearer the patterns were, it was good to talk about what shapes we saw. I forgot to take pictures of the finished prints but will have to update that!

Do you have any suggestions of other good things to try and make patterns?

montessori at home

This week we played shopkeeper quite a bit, a personal favourite of mine when I was little (and in fact I still have a slight obsession with tills!) Whilst obviously not a strictly 'Montessori' practice, it's still good to remember that such games encourage role-playing, turn taking and concentration all whilst having a fun game!

We'd take it it turns to be the shop keeper, asking the customer what would you like to buy today, then we would select a few items on display and give them to the shop keeper to beep through the till then tell the customer how much it is. We're not so concerned with recognising actual money value at the moment, but playing shops is a good way of teaching what different coins are worth and of course counting. So far we stuck to simple amounts as 1- 10, 20, 30 ect and just pretended to give the right amount and occasionally some change!


These past few weeks we've also been playing the memory game 'Kims game' or what we like to call the 'what's missing game'!

We placed a few random items on a tray, then I asked Theo to name them one by one. After he did so we placed a cloth over them and Theo closed his eyes whilst I removed an item. Then we took the cloth away and he had to tell me which item was missing. If he was struggling we would go over and name the items that were remaining and see if we could remember the missing one. It's such a great simple game using memory and naming objects. We then took it in turns and Theo took an item, but he always has the habit of telling me what he's taken! You can obviously make it easier or harder by the amount of objects that are there!




montessori at home

This week we played shopkeeper quite a bit, a personal favourite of mine when I was little (and in fact I still have a slight obsession with tills!) Whilst obviously not a strictly 'Montessori' practice, it's still good to remember that such games encourage role-playing, turn taking and concentration all whilst having a fun game!

We'd take it it turns to be the shop keeper, asking the customer what would you like to buy today, then we would select a few items on display and give them to the shop keeper to beep through the till then tell the customer how much it is. We're not so concerned with recognising actual money value at the moment, but playing shops is a good way of teaching what different coins are worth and of course counting. So far we stuck to simple amounts as 1- 10, 20, 30 ect and just pretended to give the right amount and occasionally some change!


These past few weeks we've also been playing the memory game 'Kims game' or what we like to call the 'what's missing game'!

We placed a few random items on a tray, then I asked Theo to name them one by one. After he did so we placed a cloth over them and Theo closed his eyes whilst I removed an item. Then we took the cloth away and he had to tell me which item was missing. If he was struggling we would go over and name the items that were remaining and see if we could remember the missing one. It's such a great simple game using memory and naming objects. We then took it in turns and Theo took an item, but he always has the habit of telling me what he's taken! You can obviously make it easier or harder by the amount of objects that are there!




montessori at home

 This week we made a simple colour matching game using Theo's trains. This is a great game and can be used to help learn the colours of different objects and to practice matching skills.

First I asked Theo to name the colours then put the trains on what he thought was the matching colour.

Theo completed this task quite easily so I think next time I would perhaps get him to select the correct coloured train out of a whole selection of trains instead of having the correct ones already sorted out to make it more challenging. This game could used in lots of different ways to, say with pictures of fruit and vegetables to match colours and learn names. There are lots of variations to try!

montessori at home

 This week we made a simple colour matching game using Theo's trains. This is a great game and can be used to help learn the colours of different objects and to practice matching skills.

First I asked Theo to name the colours then put the trains on what he thought was the matching colour.

Theo completed this task quite easily so I think next time I would perhaps get him to select the correct coloured train out of a whole selection of trains instead of having the correct ones already sorted out to make it more challenging. This game could used in lots of different ways to, say with pictures of fruit and vegetables to match colours and learn names. There are lots of variations to try!

montessori at home


I spoke a while ago about our decision to send Theo to a Montessori preschool. He's now in his second term and has adjusted well and I have seen parts of his development come on so well.

I mentioned in his last update post that we were putting into practice some skills that he's picking up there making sure we continue the themes at home. Montessori methods are something that can definitely be applied to every environment and situation and I find it really helpful to come up with ideas and to plan activities for us to do at home together.

So I thought I would start sharing some of the things that we like to do together. Lots of these things will seem like common sense, but I feel each of them have important lessons whilst still being fun! Montessori activities can be categorised into different skill areas, but there is no wrong or right and things obviously overlap!

Today, we did a little practical life skills. Like at most snack time Theo helps with the preparation and construction and can work out how much he needs himself. Today he had corn crackers with butter and jam, and water to pour himself. It's obviously good to help them set it out, but also important to sit back and let them learn for themselves, even if it may mean water all over the table and sticky hands!


Having a selection of healthy snacks in an accessible place helps them to choose what they would like to eat, and once they get used to them being there all the time, the impulse to stuff as much as possible in their face as fast as they can wears off. They learn to moderate their servings themselves and can learn to gauge how hungry they are. Theo also is practicing his fine motor skills, learning how to hold the knife correctly, take the right amount and to control spreading. He uses a jug to pour himself water into his glass (with a little spillage!) He's learning about food hygiene too, and once the meal is prepared he can eat what he has made.


After he's finished he then will tidy up, replacing the lid, taking the tray out to the kitchen and replacing the butter in the fridge. Then it's time to wash hands and faces!

After this we then focussed on some practical skills, using a bowl full of different sized beans and using tweezers to move them into other containers, separating them into matching pots. This task takes concentration, focusses on fine motor skills and is about gaining control of using tools. He is also using logic to separate the different shapes and group them together.

Once he's had enough of the activity he is encouraged to clean up any dropped items and uses a dustpan and brush to sweep the floor. He then collects up his work and puts it away to play with later. Theo is learning about taking care of objects and his environment, by tidying and cleaning up after himself.

I think it's important to merge life at home and the skills he picks up at nursery, and even if he doesn't stay at Montessori all of his preschool life, we can still take the approaches and activities and continue at home. I hope to share more soon! 

montessori at home


I spoke a while ago about our decision to send Theo to a Montessori preschool. He's now in his second term and has adjusted well and I have seen parts of his development come on so well.

I mentioned in his last update post that we were putting into practice some skills that he's picking up there making sure we continue the themes at home. Montessori methods are something that can definitely be applied to every environment and situation and I find it really helpful to come up with ideas and to plan activities for us to do at home together.

So I thought I would start sharing some of the things that we like to do together. Lots of these things will seem like common sense, but I feel each of them have important lessons whilst still being fun! Montessori activities can be categorised into different skill areas, but there is no wrong or right and things obviously overlap!

Today, we did a little practical life skills. Like at most snack time Theo helps with the preparation and construction and can work out how much he needs himself. Today he had corn crackers with butter and jam, and water to pour himself. It's obviously good to help them set it out, but also important to sit back and let them learn for themselves, even if it may mean water all over the table and sticky hands!


Having a selection of healthy snacks in an accessible place helps them to choose what they would like to eat, and once they get used to them being there all the time, the impulse to stuff as much as possible in their face as fast as they can wears off. They learn to moderate their servings themselves and can learn to gauge how hungry they are. Theo also is practicing his fine motor skills, learning how to hold the knife correctly, take the right amount and to control spreading. He uses a jug to pour himself water into his glass (with a little spillage!) He's learning about food hygiene too, and once the meal is prepared he can eat what he has made.


After he's finished he then will tidy up, replacing the lid, taking the tray out to the kitchen and replacing the butter in the fridge. Then it's time to wash hands and faces!

After this we then focussed on some practical skills, using a bowl full of different sized beans and using tweezers to move them into other containers, separating them into matching pots. This task takes concentration, focusses on fine motor skills and is about gaining control of using tools. He is also using logic to separate the different shapes and group them together.

Once he's had enough of the activity he is encouraged to clean up any dropped items and uses a dustpan and brush to sweep the floor. He then collects up his work and puts it away to play with later. Theo is learning about taking care of objects and his environment, by tidying and cleaning up after himself.

I think it's important to merge life at home and the skills he picks up at nursery, and even if he doesn't stay at Montessori all of his preschool life, we can still take the approaches and activities and continue at home. I hope to share more soon! 

a behaviour update



I've mentioned before now about the struggles we have with Theo's behaviour, and I just thought I'd do a little update.

It's hard for me to talk about really because it's a daily stress that sometimes I find it really hard to deal with. Things don't seem to be getting any better, and sometimes in fact they seem a little worse than they were a few months ago, if thats possible. He is regularly hitting and screaming at us at home as well as still hitting other children. It's just pretty difficult to reason with him, and even though we are pretty consistent with our dealing with the behaviour it still doesn't seem to work.

When he hits us at home we take him to the stairs to sit and have a calm down. We've never called it the naughty step, and he can stay there as long as he feels he needs to. At nursery they have told me that when he's in the garden that sometimes if he feels cross he will take himself off to a bench or steps and sit with his arms crossed until he feels better. This is the one good thing I have seen develop in the last few weeks. He understands what the emotion anger is, and we have told him it's ok to feel cross and angry but that hitting/screaming/biting/throwing isn't acceptable behaviour to deal with it. We always try and focus on the fact that the behaviour is the thing that is bad, not him himself. I've learnt that I just need to let him calm down on his own because if I try and tell him whilst he's still raging what I think of his behaviour then he just ends up screaming in my face even more. 

When we're out and he hits other children or me then we will try and find somewhere to have a calm down, and often he will walk away and sit himself down. But from what I can see of when he is around other children, either at the park, nursery or round a friends house, is that he seems to perceive every child as a threat and doesn't give them the chance to interact with, he'll just go to hit them if they get too close. He doesn't seem to be able to use his words quick enough so will just lash out first. He seems to understand quite well after that what he has done is not acceptable, and will always try and say sorry but just can't control it in the moment. 

Today the health visitor came to visit me to have a talk and to observe Theo. They have also suggested at nursery that they would like to get a behaviour specialist in to see what they think the reasons for the way he acts are and to provide guidance on how best to deal with it. The HV gave some really good advice, to basically carry on what we are doing, but to firm up my voice when dealing with the behaviour and certain phrases to use. I also think having a specialist observe him whilst at nursery is a good idea and I'm hoping it will provide some answers.

For now I thought I would include this interesting article on tantrums:


Building Toddler Confidence: Great Ways to Beat Tantrums
Any parent of a toddler will, or should be, used to tantrums by now and if you’re a parent of a child who hasn’t had a tantrum yet, brace yourselves, because it willhappen eventually. Every child is different and the way in which parents deal with a wobbler is different – there is no right way of handling it, no matter what the books and child psychologists may say.
Tantrums are a completely normal reaction that can be frustrating for us, but imagine what the child is dealing with. Many of the tantrums they have, particularly when they’re younger and don’t really understand what they’re doing, are due to an overwhelming panic that builds up in their brain. Where it stems from will depend on the particular scenario that has triggered it but the only way in which the child can handle their brain activity is to let hell break loose on whoever is around them!
By building a toddler’s confidence and having a few little tricks up your sleeve, you will have the tools you need to try and diffuse the tantrum before it happens. Here are a few ideas.
Distraction
This is a marvellous method that can really work if you read your child’s cues quick enough. If you can see a potential tantrum bubbling beneath their skin, distract them! Whether it’s with a toy that plays a tune and grabs their attention, such as the super cute Dance & Play Puppy that’s been on the TV recently, or it’s you doing a silly dance and acting a little daft, distraction can work wonders.
Stay Calm
Your children won’t be able to get a hold of their emotions if you react badly. They’re still learning how to control their impulsive reactions and need you to stay calm. Imagine someone shouting at you and making you feel worse when you’re feeling ratty and stressed – it won’t make you feel better, will it!
Get down to their level
Make eye contact with them and talk to them on their level. Looking at them straight in the eyes should help to calm them down and improve the chance of the tantrum subsiding.
Change the environment
It’s amazing what this can do if they’re mid-meltdown. Nip outside with them or run them a bath; a change of scenery can help them to calm down. Going outside will also give them the chance to run around and get some fresh air, too.

Tantrums don’t have to be embarrassing and difficult to deal with – stay calm and they’ll (hopefully) co-operate in no time!

Written in collaboration with Kira. 

a behaviour update



I've mentioned before now about the struggles we have with Theo's behaviour, and I just thought I'd do a little update.

It's hard for me to talk about really because it's a daily stress that sometimes I find it really hard to deal with. Things don't seem to be getting any better, and sometimes in fact they seem a little worse than they were a few months ago, if thats possible. He is regularly hitting and screaming at us at home as well as still hitting other children. It's just pretty difficult to reason with him, and even though we are pretty consistent with our dealing with the behaviour it still doesn't seem to work.

When he hits us at home we take him to the stairs to sit and have a calm down. We've never called it the naughty step, and he can stay there as long as he feels he needs to. At nursery they have told me that when he's in the garden that sometimes if he feels cross he will take himself off to a bench or steps and sit with his arms crossed until he feels better. This is the one good thing I have seen develop in the last few weeks. He understands what the emotion anger is, and we have told him it's ok to feel cross and angry but that hitting/screaming/biting/throwing isn't acceptable behaviour to deal with it. We always try and focus on the fact that the behaviour is the thing that is bad, not him himself. I've learnt that I just need to let him calm down on his own because if I try and tell him whilst he's still raging what I think of his behaviour then he just ends up screaming in my face even more. 

When we're out and he hits other children or me then we will try and find somewhere to have a calm down, and often he will walk away and sit himself down. But from what I can see of when he is around other children, either at the park, nursery or round a friends house, is that he seems to perceive every child as a threat and doesn't give them the chance to interact with, he'll just go to hit them if they get too close. He doesn't seem to be able to use his words quick enough so will just lash out first. He seems to understand quite well after that what he has done is not acceptable, and will always try and say sorry but just can't control it in the moment. 

Today the health visitor came to visit me to have a talk and to observe Theo. They have also suggested at nursery that they would like to get a behaviour specialist in to see what they think the reasons for the way he acts are and to provide guidance on how best to deal with it. The HV gave some really good advice, to basically carry on what we are doing, but to firm up my voice when dealing with the behaviour and certain phrases to use. I also think having a specialist observe him whilst at nursery is a good idea and I'm hoping it will provide some answers.

For now I thought I would include this interesting article on tantrums:


Building Toddler Confidence: Great Ways to Beat Tantrums
Any parent of a toddler will, or should be, used to tantrums by now and if you’re a parent of a child who hasn’t had a tantrum yet, brace yourselves, because it will happen eventually. Every child is different and the way in which parents deal with a wobbler is different – there is no right way of handling it, no matter what the books and child psychologists may say.
Tantrums are a completely normal reaction that can be frustrating for us, but imagine what the child is dealing with. Many of the tantrums they have, particularly when they’re younger and don’t really understand what they’re doing, are due to an overwhelming panic that builds up in their brain. Where it stems from will depend on the particular scenario that has triggered it but the only way in which the child can handle their brain activity is to let hell break loose on whoever is around them!
By building a toddler’s confidence and having a few little tricks up your sleeve, you will have the tools you need to try and diffuse the tantrum before it happens. Here are a few ideas.
Distraction
This is a marvellous method that can really work if you read your child’s cues quick enough. If you can see a potential tantrum bubbling beneath their skin, distract them! Whether it’s with a toy that plays a tune and grabs their attention, such as the super cute Dance & Play Puppy that’s been on the TV recently, or it’s you doing a silly dance and acting a little daft, distraction can work wonders.
Stay Calm
Your children won’t be able to get a hold of their emotions if you react badly. They’re still learning how to control their impulsive reactions and need you to stay calm. Imagine someone shouting at you and making you feel worse when you’re feeling ratty and stressed – it won’t make you feel better, will it!
Get down to their level
Make eye contact with them and talk to them on their level. Looking at them straight in the eyes should help to calm them down and improve the chance of the tantrum subsiding.
Change the environment
It’s amazing what this can do if they’re mid-meltdown. Nip outside with them or run them a bath; a change of scenery can help them to calm down. Going outside will also give them the chance to run around and get some fresh air, too.

Tantrums don’t have to be embarrassing and difficult to deal with – stay calm and they’ll (hopefully) co-operate in no time!

Written in collaboration with Kira. 

preschool take two

So a few months ago on a sunny morning we set off on a short walk for Theo's first day of preschool. I was fairly excited as I was looking forward to a bit of time to myself to be able to do some work and have a few hours of peace and quiet knowing that he was in good hands and perhaps learning to play nicely.

He was booked in to do a few mornings a week, at a fairly small preschool at a church hall near by. As you all must know by now Theo isn't the gentlest of children and tends to get over whelmed by new places, lots of children and toys. But we went anyway as I thought it was time to try and get him to experience being around other children, and learn how to behave especially when I wasn't there. We turned up, to the large open room which has different activity stations set up around the room, and a mat with lots of toys in the middle. I think he was fairly excited to be a in a new place, but I was obviously quite anxious and wasn't really made to feel at ease by the staff. It was all a bit hectic and unorganised, with no clear system for new parents and children and it sort of felt like a free for all. I was told I could do what I liked really, stay with him, go in another room, leave him altogether, stay for an hour or stay the whole session. What I need when I'm feeling anxious is for someone else to be in control really, to say this is how we do it, you stay for an hour, then next session you leave him etc.. Within half an hour of being there he'd had a few scuffles with children, and I tried to watch what the staff did in that situation but didn't get the feeling that they were in control very much. Maybe because it was one of the first days of the new term but they seemed to be all over the place. But surely they should have a system for new children and parents. No one introduced themselves, and Theo wasn't assigned a key person. I just didn't feel like I would be comfortable leaving him in a situation like that knowing that he might not be looked after to the full extent. He ended up saying after about an hour of being there (which was just free play) that he wanted to go home. None of the staff were particularly helpful in engaging with him and in the end I thought it was best to just leave and try again another day.

Over the weekend that followed the more I thought about the place the more unsure I was, and at the end of the day when your child is starting preschool for the first time you need to feel 100% sure that it is the right place for you and them. There is nothing wrong really with the preschool itself, but it just wasn't for us. I felt like Theo needed something extra, more guidance.



So after having a think and a research into other preschools nearby, and chatting to a few other mums I thought I would have a look into Montessori preschools. There are a few I went to visit them to see what they were like. As soon as I stepped into the places I felt an instant calm being there, and Theo was clearly affected by the environment too as he was much calmer.

I didn't know too much about the Montessori approach before I read up on it and witnessed it, just that they have a slightly different outlook to traditional preschools. At Montessori the focus is on child led play, meaning that a child is free to chose and play with whatever activity they want, and for how ever long they want. Each child has to first choose a mat for the floor then select his work tray or activity and use it on their own mat, and when they have finished then they must put it back where they found it. Children can work alone or with other children, but you must ask if you wish to join another child, who then in turn has the right to say that they want to work alone. For me I feel this is a great approach for Theo as he often gets frustrated that if he finishes playing with a toy and puts it down, he then doesn't understand that he can't just go back ten minutes later and start playing with it again if someone else is currently doing so. I like that it teaches independence and respect for peoples space and work, and it encourage politeness and understanding.

Children at Montessori are encouraged to be as independent as possible, as soon as they step through the door they are expected to take off their shoes and store them, put on their indoor shoes and then find an activity to do. Learning through play is really encouraged so activities are focussed around everyday skills and learning how to do things independently. For example there is a snack and drinks station where the children can help themselves when they need to, and then when finished they wash up their plates and cup themselves. For Theo this sense of responsibility and independence is perfect for him. He loves to be given tasks and always wants to do as much himself as possible and I just feel this way of learning is perfect for him. He also loves role playing so being able to act out jobs and roles is a great was for him to play with other children. There are different rooms in the Montessori preschool (meaning each room isn't overwhelming) for a range of activities, an art and creative room, a learning room and practical skills room. There's puzzles, various logic games as well as other toys like a train sets, dolls and so much more!

I feel like I'm gushing over it, but I really do think it's great. So far we've done two settling in sessions (where there is a specific plan set out for all new children!) and they've gone so well. I left him today for an hour and he was fine (and didn't want to go home!) the staff are all so engaging and I feel so proud watching him take his little tray, play with the activity and then put it back again all on his own. He's much calmer and is so interested in all of the activities and so far there hasn't been any outbursts with other children. It makes me feel so happy to have found a place where I am really going to see him flourish and be supported in the right environment.

Maybe waiting a few months has also helped but I just feel that this is the right place and environment for him and the best start for him before school. Phew! 

preschool take two

So a few months ago on a sunny morning we set off on a short walk for Theo's first day of preschool. I was fairly excited as I was looking forward to a bit of time to myself to be able to do some work and have a few hours of peace and quiet knowing that he was in good hands and perhaps learning to play nicely.

He was booked in to do a few mornings a week, at a fairly small preschool at a church hall near by. As you all must know by now Theo isn't the gentlest of children and tends to get over whelmed by new places, lots of children and toys. But we went anyway as I thought it was time to try and get him to experience being around other children, and learn how to behave especially when I wasn't there. We turned up, to the large open room which has different activity stations set up around the room, and a mat with lots of toys in the middle. I think he was fairly excited to be a in a new place, but I was obviously quite anxious and wasn't really made to feel at ease by the staff. It was all a bit hectic and unorganised, with no clear system for new parents and children and it sort of felt like a free for all. I was told I could do what I liked really, stay with him, go in another room, leave him altogether, stay for an hour or stay the whole session. What I need when I'm feeling anxious is for someone else to be in control really, to say this is how we do it, you stay for an hour, then next session you leave him etc.. Within half an hour of being there he'd had a few scuffles with children, and I tried to watch what the staff did in that situation but didn't get the feeling that they were in control very much. Maybe because it was one of the first days of the new term but they seemed to be all over the place. But surely they should have a system for new children and parents. No one introduced themselves, and Theo wasn't assigned a key person. I just didn't feel like I would be comfortable leaving him in a situation like that knowing that he might not be looked after to the full extent. He ended up saying after about an hour of being there (which was just free play) that he wanted to go home. None of the staff were particularly helpful in engaging with him and in the end I thought it was best to just leave and try again another day.

Over the weekend that followed the more I thought about the place the more unsure I was, and at the end of the day when your child is starting preschool for the first time you need to feel 100% sure that it is the right place for you and them. There is nothing wrong really with the preschool itself, but it just wasn't for us. I felt like Theo needed something extra, more guidance.



So after having a think and a research into other preschools nearby, and chatting to a few other mums I thought I would have a look into Montessori preschools. There are a few I went to visit them to see what they were like. As soon as I stepped into the places I felt an instant calm being there, and Theo was clearly affected by the environment too as he was much calmer.

I didn't know too much about the Montessori approach before I read up on it and witnessed it, just that they have a slightly different outlook to traditional preschools. At Montessori the focus is on child led play, meaning that a child is free to chose and play with whatever activity they want, and for how ever long they want. Each child has to first choose a mat for the floor then select his work tray or activity and use it on their own mat, and when they have finished then they must put it back where they found it. Children can work alone or with other children, but you must ask if you wish to join another child, who then in turn has the right to say that they want to work alone. For me I feel this is a great approach for Theo as he often gets frustrated that if he finishes playing with a toy and puts it down, he then doesn't understand that he can't just go back ten minutes later and start playing with it again if someone else is currently doing so. I like that it teaches independence and respect for peoples space and work, and it encourage politeness and understanding.

Children at Montessori are encouraged to be as independent as possible, as soon as they step through the door they are expected to take off their shoes and store them, put on their indoor shoes and then find an activity to do. Learning through play is really encouraged so activities are focussed around everyday skills and learning how to do things independently. For example there is a snack and drinks station where the children can help themselves when they need to, and then when finished they wash up their plates and cup themselves. For Theo this sense of responsibility and independence is perfect for him. He loves to be given tasks and always wants to do as much himself as possible and I just feel this way of learning is perfect for him. He also loves role playing so being able to act out jobs and roles is a great was for him to play with other children. There are different rooms in the Montessori preschool (meaning each room isn't overwhelming) for a range of activities, an art and creative room, a learning room and practical skills room. There's puzzles, various logic games as well as other toys like a train sets, dolls and so much more!

I feel like I'm gushing over it, but I really do think it's great. So far we've done two settling in sessions (where there is a specific plan set out for all new children!) and they've gone so well. I left him today for an hour and he was fine (and didn't want to go home!) the staff are all so engaging and I feel so proud watching him take his little tray, play with the activity and then put it back again all on his own. He's much calmer and is so interested in all of the activities and so far there hasn't been any outbursts with other children. It makes me feel so happy to have found a place where I am really going to see him flourish and be supported in the right environment.

Maybe waiting a few months has also helped but I just feel that this is the right place and environment for him and the best start for him before school. Phew! 

potty training

So I've mentioned a little bit about how we've started on our journey of potty training Theo. I didn't really have any real plan of when we were going to start, it was a definite wait until the signs are there and see how it goes sort of thing. But I did want to try over the summer months, because lets face it, it's a lot easier to train when they can run around naked right?

I'm not sure exactly when we started either, or how I knew the time was right, but gradually Theo started to become more interested in the act of going to the toilet. I would say that I was just going to the toilet and he would come along with me...always nice to have an audience. He knew where his poo and wee came from too, so one day I bought him a little Thomas toilet seat, and began letting him sit on it and asking him if he needed to go for a wee. We just started doing this in the evening before he had a bath, then gradually added morning nappy off time too. So it carried on this way for a while, just gradually easing in and getting him aware of where you go to the toilet and how it feels to do it not in the nappy.

I haven't read up on many tips on how to do it, but just went on advice and our own instincts. It's just gone along at it's own pace and I never thought, right we need to crack this in 3 days sort of thing, but we've still made progress.

Gradually we extended the nappy off time, and have spent longer periods of time at home so we can make the most of getting used to it. I would ask him if he needed to go, and I'd sit him on the toilet and have a go, sometimes he went, sometimes he didn't. We used stickers every time he went, which he loved choosing. He then started asking for the toilet of his own accord, so we'd race upstairs to have a go. At this point he still wasn't using the potty and preferred the proper toilet, and he wasn't wearing pants. It took a little while to introduce wearing something on his bottom half and him knowing that it wasn't a nappy, which is something we're still working on too.

When we got back from holiday a few weeks ago now (sniff) I decided that we would take a little more control of the training, and try and do whole days of no nappy's and wearing pants. We went and chose some new pants for him (Thomas obvs) and tried to explain that they were not a nappy and that Thomas didn't like it if he got wet! So since then we've been trying to keep the pants on most of the time, but he does like to be naked a lot of the time too.

He's started to use the potty, and quite a lot of the time on his own without asking, which is great. We've had quite a few accidents, but they're definitely getting few and far between. So that's at home nearly covered.

I decided to just bite the bullet and go out with him just wearing pants, we had a short journey in the car and a morning at the zoo with no accidents on our first nappy free outing. I bought a travel potty/toilet seat that works really well for being out and about. Before we left the house we made sure we tried to go, then once we arrived we made a trip to the toilet before going in. Then half way round I asked him again, but he said he was fine, we then passed some toilets and we made sure we had another try just in case. He went both times which was great, and we had no accidents whilst we were there. We met up with friends for a picnic, and I guess because he was excited and distracted by his friends being there, and not having a proper toilet he had two accidents. Then he got stung by a bee, so after this I called it a day and put a nappy back on him (plus I'd run out of pants and changes of clothes!) But it didn't deter us, that was our first proper day out, and a morning success is good enough for us. The rest of the week we stayed fairly close to home, just trying to get used to pants and potty!

We visited my Dad at the weekend, and Theo was excited to show off that he could go to the toilet like a big boy, which helped a lot! On Saturday we went to the seaside, and apart from wearing a nappy for the hours journey (no-one wants a wee sodden car seat to sit in the sun for 8 hours now do they...) he stayed dry all day long. We visited my uncle, and he went to the toilet there with no problems, he didn't necessarily ask to go himself, but he went when we made him try more often than not. We used various public toilets, all with no problem! We were out from around 12pm - 9pm with no accidents at all, winner! The next day didn't go so well, we took his potty with us, which we kept asking him to use if he needed to. We managed to catch a few, very nearly missing a number two, and then had one or two wee accidents, but I put this down to over-excitedness, tiredness and forgetting on our part.

We're back to normal again today, staying at home all day to recover from the weekend, so it's been spent naked or in pants, using the potty on his own and asking for the upstairs toilet and no accidents! We're still using a nappy for nap time, but it comes off straight away when he wakes up but I have noticed that it seems pretty dry anyway, so perhaps that's our next step!

So we've had a couple of completely dry days, using the big toilet and potty for both 1& 2's, asking for the toilet, using the potty without being asked, wearing pants, pulling down pants, using potty in public and using public toilets! So it's safe to say we're making progress, and hopefully it won't be too long until we're completely accident free! There's no turning back now....


potty training

So I've mentioned a little bit about how we've started on our journey of potty training Theo. I didn't really have any real plan of when we were going to start, it was a definite wait until the signs are there and see how it goes sort of thing. But I did want to try over the summer months, because lets face it, it's a lot easier to train when they can run around naked right?

I'm not sure exactly when we started either, or how I knew the time was right, but gradually Theo started to become more interested in the act of going to the toilet. I would say that I was just going to the toilet and he would come along with me...always nice to have an audience. He knew where his poo and wee came from too, so one day I bought him a little Thomas toilet seat, and began letting him sit on it and asking him if he needed to go for a wee. We just started doing this in the evening before he had a bath, then gradually added morning nappy off time too. So it carried on this way for a while, just gradually easing in and getting him aware of where you go to the toilet and how it feels to do it not in the nappy.

I haven't read up on many tips on how to do it, but just went on advice and our own instincts. It's just gone along at it's own pace and I never thought, right we need to crack this in 3 days sort of thing, but we've still made progress.

Gradually we extended the nappy off time, and have spent longer periods of time at home so we can make the most of getting used to it. I would ask him if he needed to go, and I'd sit him on the toilet and have a go, sometimes he went, sometimes he didn't. We used stickers every time he went, which he loved choosing. He then started asking for the toilet of his own accord, so we'd race upstairs to have a go. At this point he still wasn't using the potty and preferred the proper toilet, and he wasn't wearing pants. It took a little while to introduce wearing something on his bottom half and him knowing that it wasn't a nappy, which is something we're still working on too.

When we got back from holiday a few weeks ago now (sniff) I decided that we would take a little more control of the training, and try and do whole days of no nappy's and wearing pants. We went and chose some new pants for him (Thomas obvs) and tried to explain that they were not a nappy and that Thomas didn't like it if he got wet! So since then we've been trying to keep the pants on most of the time, but he does like to be naked a lot of the time too.

He's started to use the potty, and quite a lot of the time on his own without asking, which is great. We've had quite a few accidents, but they're definitely getting few and far between. So that's at home nearly covered.

I decided to just bite the bullet and go out with him just wearing pants, we had a short journey in the car and a morning at the zoo with no accidents on our first nappy free outing. I bought a travel potty/toilet seat that works really well for being out and about. Before we left the house we made sure we tried to go, then once we arrived we made a trip to the toilet before going in. Then half way round I asked him again, but he said he was fine, we then passed some toilets and we made sure we had another try just in case. He went both times which was great, and we had no accidents whilst we were there. We met up with friends for a picnic, and I guess because he was excited and distracted by his friends being there, and not having a proper toilet he had two accidents. Then he got stung by a bee, so after this I called it a day and put a nappy back on him (plus I'd run out of pants and changes of clothes!) But it didn't deter us, that was our first proper day out, and a morning success is good enough for us. The rest of the week we stayed fairly close to home, just trying to get used to pants and potty!

We visited my Dad at the weekend, and Theo was excited to show off that he could go to the toilet like a big boy, which helped a lot! On Saturday we went to the seaside, and apart from wearing a nappy for the hours journey (no-one wants a wee sodden car seat to sit in the sun for 8 hours now do they...) he stayed dry all day long. We visited my uncle, and he went to the toilet there with no problems, he didn't necessarily ask to go himself, but he went when we made him try more often than not. We used various public toilets, all with no problem! We were out from around 12pm - 9pm with no accidents at all, winner! The next day didn't go so well, we took his potty with us, which we kept asking him to use if he needed to. We managed to catch a few, very nearly missing a number two, and then had one or two wee accidents, but I put this down to over-excitedness, tiredness and forgetting on our part.

We're back to normal again today, staying at home all day to recover from the weekend, so it's been spent naked or in pants, using the potty on his own and asking for the upstairs toilet and no accidents! We're still using a nappy for nap time, but it comes off straight away when he wakes up but I have noticed that it seems pretty dry anyway, so perhaps that's our next step!

So we've had a couple of completely dry days, using the big toilet and potty for both 1& 2's, asking for the toilet, using the potty without being asked, wearing pants, pulling down pants, using potty in public and using public toilets! So it's safe to say we're making progress, and hopefully it won't be too long until we're completely accident free! There's no turning back now....


giving up

So it's over, I'm giving up on playgroups.

This morning we went to our usual Monday morning group at the children's centre which is usually pretty good and also quite quiet. This group is really lovely, they have lots of fun activities to do with sensory, creativity and learning, plus other good toys and a lovely outside play area, so I'm sad to maybe not go anymore, maybe I will occasionally. It's not the playgroup itself that I don't like, it's the other parents. And this goes for other playgroups too, I don't like the parents.

I find it stressful being there, negotiating fair play and having to constantly watch over your chid, because let's face it, Theo isn't the most gentle child in the world. But I hate the way I'm made to feel, like I have a terror of a child, who is a complete anomaly and like no child has ever acted that way before. I feel constantly judged (by parents not by the actual staff who work there). Yes Theo hits other children, occasionally pushes and very rarely bites. He's loud, he's energetic and he's boisterous. He get's over excited, he wants to play with what ever anyone else is playing with and he gets frustrated. But he's not the only one who ever does this. I didn't choose for Theo to be like this, and we certainly don't encourage or use violence on him at home or anywhere. But that's just the way he is, and hopefully it will pass at some point, hopefully soon. The majority of parents you meet usually have a kind word to say about it, along the lines of "don't worry, we've been there" or "it's ok, they're usually the same" which is nice, it shows they know what you are going through and that they know it will pass. But some parents it seems just judge, say things that when thought about later are actually quite rude, and just generally make you feel like a bad parent.

Whenever Theo hits or snatches, each and every time I will take him to one side and explain that what he did wasn't very nice, that he might have upset or hurt the other child, and that we need to say sorry. 70% of the time he will say sorry, and all is forgotten. Sometimes he doesn't and will try and hit again, and if that's the case then he'll get a warning that we have to leave, and if he does it again, then we will leave. I use positive encouragement and praise when he's behaving nicely and we talk and explain how to share and wait our turn. I know that I'm doing everything I can to help him through this phase, and I always do this, but still I feel like I am judged. Just because you're child has never, or isn't old enough to act in this way doesn't mean that you are a better parent than me, just because you haven't been tested in this way it doesn't mean that you won't be tested in other ways, and when or if they do I hope that people aren't there judging you or making comments. Because it's hurtful, and it goes pretty deeply when people criticise your parenting or your child.

The thing is, is that this is just one side to Theo, and maybe this is all they see of him, but in general he is a lovely little boy. He is incredibly friendly, and will say hello and try to make friends with everyone. He is polite and kind, will always say thank you and please. He does like to share and involve other people in what he's doing and he's a bright and inquisitive child. He's outgoing and affectionate and happy. He will always check if his friends are ok, try and help them up if they've fallen or will wonder why if they're upset. I know all this because I'm around him all the time and I see all these sides so it's really hard when you are made to feel like you are the mother of a out of control child. Because he's not out of control, he's a two year old boy with lots of energy. And at this period in time, before his language is fully developed, it's hard for them to speak their frustration and easier to act out and hit.

But until that point I think I'm just going to give the whole playgroup thing a break. But now that the weather is getting better more outside trips can be made. I have a friend who has been through the very same thing with her little boy who is a few months older than Theo, and who herself can't handle small confined spaces with lots of other small children and toys anymore either, and we have pledged to just go out on day trips, to go on walks, to the park, or play in the garden.

So there! I just hope that parents will stop judging each other and just try their hardest to be the best parent they can for their own children and respect that they may not know or see the whole side of the child or the parent they are criticising. We're all in this together! 

giving up

So it's over, I'm giving up on playgroups.

This morning we went to our usual Monday morning group at the children's centre which is usually pretty good and also quite quiet. This group is really lovely, they have lots of fun activities to do with sensory, creativity and learning, plus other good toys and a lovely outside play area, so I'm sad to maybe not go anymore, maybe I will occasionally. It's not the playgroup itself that I don't like, it's the other parents. And this goes for other playgroups too, I don't like the parents.

I find it stressful being there, negotiating fair play and having to constantly watch over your chid, because let's face it, Theo isn't the most gentle child in the world. But I hate the way I'm made to feel, like I have a terror of a child, who is a complete anomaly and like no child has ever acted that way before. I feel constantly judged (by parents not by the actual staff who work there). Yes Theo hits other children, occasionally pushes and very rarely bites. He's loud, he's energetic and he's boisterous. He get's over excited, he wants to play with what ever anyone else is playing with and he gets frustrated. But he's not the only one who ever does this. I didn't choose for Theo to be like this, and we certainly don't encourage or use violence on him at home or anywhere. But that's just the way he is, and hopefully it will pass at some point, hopefully soon. The majority of parents you meet usually have a kind word to say about it, along the lines of "don't worry, we've been there" or "it's ok, they're usually the same" which is nice, it shows they know what you are going through and that they know it will pass. But some parents it seems just judge, say things that when thought about later are actually quite rude, and just generally make you feel like a bad parent.

Whenever Theo hits or snatches, each and every time I will take him to one side and explain that what he did wasn't very nice, that he might have upset or hurt the other child, and that we need to say sorry. 70% of the time he will say sorry, and all is forgotten. Sometimes he doesn't and will try and hit again, and if that's the case then he'll get a warning that we have to leave, and if he does it again, then we will leave. I use positive encouragement and praise when he's behaving nicely and we talk and explain how to share and wait our turn. I know that I'm doing everything I can to help him through this phase, and I always do this, but still I feel like I am judged. Just because you're child has never, or isn't old enough to act in this way doesn't mean that you are a better parent than me, just because you haven't been tested in this way it doesn't mean that you won't be tested in other ways, and when or if they do I hope that people aren't there judging you or making comments. Because it's hurtful, and it goes pretty deeply when people criticise your parenting or your child.

The thing is, is that this is just one side to Theo, and maybe this is all they see of him, but in general he is a lovely little boy. He is incredibly friendly, and will say hello and try to make friends with everyone. He is polite and kind, will always say thank you and please. He does like to share and involve other people in what he's doing and he's a bright and inquisitive child. He's outgoing and affectionate and happy. He will always check if his friends are ok, try and help them up if they've fallen or will wonder why if they're upset. I know all this because I'm around him all the time and I see all these sides so it's really hard when you are made to feel like you are the mother of a out of control child. Because he's not out of control, he's a two year old boy with lots of energy. And at this period in time, before his language is fully developed, it's hard for them to speak their frustration and easier to act out and hit.

But until that point I think I'm just going to give the whole playgroup thing a break. But now that the weather is getting better more outside trips can be made. I have a friend who has been through the very same thing with her little boy who is a few months older than Theo, and who herself can't handle small confined spaces with lots of other small children and toys anymore either, and we have pledged to just go out on day trips, to go on walks, to the park, or play in the garden.

So there! I just hope that parents will stop judging each other and just try their hardest to be the best parent they can for their own children and respect that they may not know or see the whole side of the child or the parent they are criticising. We're all in this together! 

theo's daily outfit



My my this week has flown by! I can believe this time last week we had just arrived in Brighton and we were getting ready for a busy weekend of seeing friends and lots of fun. Since getting back on Monday we have been trying to get back to normal, and it's been pretty busy and I'm sad to say that this blog has been a little neglected. There's tons of posts I want to write and am really excited about, but I just don't really feel like sitting down at the computer. Which is typical as sometimes I feel like writing posts but just don't have much to say at the time. Having a break from the internet at the weekend was much needed though, and I think I'm still on slight holiday mode. I like it though when real life is busy enough to keep you away from the computer and impose a little break, it's just hard to get back again. So forgive me if it's a little quite around these parts at the moment, I will be back to resume normal service again soon! 

theo's daily outfit



My my this week has flown by! I can believe this time last week we had just arrived in Brighton and we were getting ready for a busy weekend of seeing friends and lots of fun. Since getting back on Monday we have been trying to get back to normal, and it's been pretty busy and I'm sad to say that this blog has been a little neglected. There's tons of posts I want to write and am really excited about, but I just don't really feel like sitting down at the computer. Which is typical as sometimes I feel like writing posts but just don't have much to say at the time. Having a break from the internet at the weekend was much needed though, and I think I'm still on slight holiday mode. I like it though when real life is busy enough to keep you away from the computer and impose a little break, it's just hard to get back again. So forgive me if it's a little quite around these parts at the moment, I will be back to resume normal service again soon! 

the alphabet

I mentioned before that Theo has suddenly had a sort of lightbulb moment and the alphabet has started making sense to him, or at least letters have. He doesn't know the letters in order, but he knows pretty much all of them now without too much confusion! I'm not claiming him to be a genius, just probably learning things at the normal rate, but it still impresses me that he can recognise them all and tell me what they are and how they sound.

I can't remember when we started really trying to teach him to letters (to be honest before I had Theo I just assumed they learnt the alphabet and numbers at school...how wrong I was!) so I thought I would share a few of the things we have found fun and useful.

First off books. We've got a few nice books to do with the alphabet but these two are probably my favourite!



The first is Alphabet by Alain Gree which was a lovely birthday present from his god father. I just love the illustrations so much and some pages have little alliteration rhymes and others just lots of picutres. Theo's favourite at the moment is 'e' because it has an excellent picture of a train engine. What's even better about this book is that the paper cover doubles up as an Alphabet poster!


The second book probably doesn't need much introduction, as I'm sure everyone knows a little Dr. Seuss. But we love this alphabet book too! The book reads more like a story, with a page per letter some describing them as big and little letters, with tongue twisters and lots and lots of alliterations in true Suess style! There are weird and wonderful creatures along the way and I'd say this book is great for teaching the order of the alphabet.


Next we have a letter puzzle, and since Theo is puzzle mad we complete this at least twice a day! My mum bought it for Theo for Christmas from John Lewis I believe? We really love it! The letters are big and chunky and he has to figure which way up and round they go in the right holes, we then look at the pictures, or I'll ask him what letter the snake is etc, it's pretty fun!

We also have letters in the bath, which we play little games with...


We have a little wash mit monster with a mouth, so we made up a game where the monster likes to eat letters. So it asks Theo for a letter and if he picks the right one then the monster will eat it right up, but if its the wrong one he will spit it out and say yuk not that one...the other one! It's safe to say Theo likes this game quite a lot!

Finally of course there are alphabet apps. There are a few we've used but none come close to the genius that is Endless Alphabet.



First you can select the word from the gallery by scrolling through, with new words added daily. The word appears but then the letters are jumbled up by a stampede of monsters. You then drag each letter do its right place, and when doing so the letter with make the phonic sounds, when dropped into the correct place it will tell you what letter is. When the word is complete there is then a little animation that describes what the word means. For an app that is free we think it's amazing! I can see it helping Theo learn his letters, phonics, how to spell and the meanings of words.

Anyway those are our favourite alphabet related toys and books! Hope you enjoy them too! 

the alphabet

I mentioned before that Theo has suddenly had a sort of lightbulb moment and the alphabet has started making sense to him, or at least letters have. He doesn't know the letters in order, but he knows pretty much all of them now without too much confusion! I'm not claiming him to be a genius, just probably learning things at the normal rate, but it still impresses me that he can recognise them all and tell me what they are and how they sound.

I can't remember when we started really trying to teach him to letters (to be honest before I had Theo I just assumed they learnt the alphabet and numbers at school...how wrong I was!) so I thought I would share a few of the things we have found fun and useful.

First off books. We've got a few nice books to do with the alphabet but these two are probably my favourite!



The first is Alphabet by Alain Gree which was a lovely birthday present from his god father. I just love the illustrations so much and some pages have little alliteration rhymes and others just lots of picutres. Theo's favourite at the moment is 'e' because it has an excellent picture of a train engine. What's even better about this book is that the paper cover doubles up as an Alphabet poster!


The second book probably doesn't need much introduction, as I'm sure everyone knows a little Dr. Seuss. But we love this alphabet book too! The book reads more like a story, with a page per letter some describing them as big and little letters, with tongue twisters and lots and lots of alliterations in true Suess style! There are weird and wonderful creatures along the way and I'd say this book is great for teaching the order of the alphabet.


Next we have a letter puzzle, and since Theo is puzzle mad we complete this at least twice a day! My mum bought it for Theo for Christmas from John Lewis I believe? We really love it! The letters are big and chunky and he has to figure which way up and round they go in the right holes, we then look at the pictures, or I'll ask him what letter the snake is etc, it's pretty fun!

We also have letters in the bath, which we play little games with...


We have a little wash mit monster with a mouth, so we made up a game where the monster likes to eat letters. So it asks Theo for a letter and if he picks the right one then the monster will eat it right up, but if its the wrong one he will spit it out and say yuk not that one...the other one! It's safe to say Theo likes this game quite a lot!

Finally of course there are alphabet apps. There are a few we've used but none come close to the genius that is Endless Alphabet.



First you can select the word from the gallery by scrolling through, with new words added daily. The word appears but then the letters are jumbled up by a stampede of monsters. You then drag each letter do its right place, and when doing so the letter with make the phonic sounds, when dropped into the correct place it will tell you what letter is. When the word is complete there is then a little animation that describes what the word means. For an app that is free we think it's amazing! I can see it helping Theo learn his letters, phonics, how to spell and the meanings of words.

Anyway those are our favourite alphabet related toys and books! Hope you enjoy them too!