The Importance of Toddler Oral Health

The month of February is National Oral Health Month, and this is a good reminder of the need to start teaching good oral health habits early. The toddler years are a good time for children to start learning how to take care of their teeth. Children at this stage are learning and getting used to daily routines, making oral care something that is easy to turn into a habit.

Fun Tools to Help Your Child

There are many fun things you can use to help spark further interest in oral care for your child. Some of the options to consider include:

  • The Tooth Fairy app from Colgate that includes a game, map to see where teeth come in, and information for parents.
  • Child-size toothbrushes featuring favorite cartoon characters.
  • Songs like Sesame Street’s “Brushy Brush” that encourage children to brush for two minutes.

Give Help As Needed

A toddler isn’t likely to have the fine motor skills to use a toothbrush very well without help. Make sure your child’s toothbrush is the right size and has soft bristles. Fluoride rinses geared towards younger children are helpful, but you should supervise your child to ensure he or she doesn’t swallow the rinse.

Encourage your child to eat fruit or other produce items as a snack, instead of sugary items. Even when your child snacks in between meals, encourage them to brush their teeth anyway. They will begin to treat this as part of their normal routine.

Other ways you can help your child follow good practices include:

  • Changing out the toothbrush about three or four times a year, plus after illnesses. Make things interesting by having your child pick out their toothbrush.
  • Make sure your child sees you eating healthy and brushing regularly. You will be setting a good example by doing these things yourself.
  • Schedule regular visits with a good pediatric dentist. These dentists know how to make younger kids comfortable and make the experience fun.

Good Dental Health Helps Later

Your child’s dental health early in life will also make an impact on their life later, especially as they progress into school. Pain issues from bad teeth and difficulty chewing foods can negatively impact a child’s quality of life. Even younger children often become self-conscious if their teeth become discolored and other children notice. If you help your child take charge of their oral health from an earlier age, they are likely to have greater self-confidence.

At Montessori School of Pleasanton, we understand the impact that personal habits can have on a child’s development and focus in school.  We encourage students to take proper care of themselves, including their dental health.  To see how Montessori education emphasizes developing the whole child, contact us today to schedule a tour.

Teaching Elementary Students Citizenship

The elementary school years are a perfect time for students to learn about the great importance of citizenship. Good citizenship is about far more than just knowing facts about the United States, although this is quite important in its own right. Good citizenship also involves living by certain principles that help children live harmoniously with others, as well as treat others fairly and justly.

Important themes of good citizenship that kids must know include:

  • The courage to do the right thing even in bad circumstances
  • A high sense of personal and public responsibility
  • Respect of self, others, and ideas
  • Compassion for other people and all living things
  • Honesty in all dealings

Sharing Stories

A good way to help children better understand these principles is to share stories related to the principles of good citizenship. Discussion starters always help make these ideas come to life and provide a more personal take that students can easily relate to. Even younger kids are likely to have something to share and hearing from their peers often helps them decide to take the initiative and share their thoughts.

Some good discussion starters to consider include:

  • Talking about a person that the child has a high opinion of
  • Asking about a time they felt brave about something they did
  • Discussing times when they’ve shown that they care about someone

Role-Playing Often Helps

Kids in the elementary school years often relate to certain concepts through the use of role-playing. Although discussing or writing about certain ideas is helpful, some children might find it easier to act out certain situations to gain a better understanding of them. Interactive activities can also help kids learn these concepts together.

Art activities related to historic Americans who have been examples of good citizens can help children understand the concepts of citizenship in a more meaningful way. When children collaborate on larger projects, such as murals or dioramas, they will also understand the importance of working together with others to achieve goals.

Learning More About What Matters

Children in elementary school are at a good age to learn more about current events that relate to their lessons. The Montessori method encourages kids to take the initiative and learn more about things that interest them. Examples of how children might act on these ideas include:

  • Learning more about how to help those in need, both inside and outside the community
  • Understanding how leaders are elected and how people make their choices
  • Studying the history of events currently in the news and events that happened leading up to them

The Montessori approach is one that is ideal for helping children learn to become better US and world citizens.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our teachers incorporate hands-on and play-based learning into their lessons.  This allows children to discover on their own, including through role-playing and sharing stories.  Contact us today to schedule a tour and see the Montessori approach firsthand.

Our Favorite Books for the Season

Holiday books are a perfect way to celebrate a season filled with various traditions. Getting children interested in books at an early age may result in a lifelong love of reading. Seasonal books add to the excitement of the holidays. Finding the right type of book for your child depends on your personal seasonal preferences. As you begin to search for seasonal stories, keep in mind the best way to peak your child’s interest is finding an age appropriate book.

Books for Age Two and Above

  • Christmastime by Alison Jay (2012) is a delightful tale of the different aspects of the wonderful Christmas season.
  • Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle (2014) is a novelty book with lights. The book tells the story of the Little Blue Truck spreading Christmas cheer to various animal friends.
  • Peek-A-Who? by Nina Laden (2000) is a fun die-cut window book guiding children to a surprise ending.

Books for Age Three and Above

  • The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood (2012) focuses on the quiet times of the holiday season.
  • The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (2015) inspires the reader to realize true gifts only come from the heart.
  • The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert (2013) shares the story of Anja who wants to be one of Santa’s elves.

Books for Age Four and Above

  • A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel (2011) tells a funny story on how a bad kitty finds the true meaning of the holiday season.
  • Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko (2012) shares the delights representing two seasonal traditions in one household.
  • The Little Elf by Brandi Dougherty (2012) tells the story of Oliver, a small elf with the desire to do the best job in Santa’s workshop.

Books for Age Five and Above

  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien (2013) shares the magical tales surrounding the adventures of North Pole living.
  • Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1986) unfolds the magical tale of being welcomed aboard a train on Christmas Eve.
  • How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan (2015) invites the reader to enjoy the different tips for catching Santa on Christmas Eve.

Books for Age Six and Above

  • The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett (2012) tells a funny tale of a boy trying to capture Santa.
  • Barbara Parks’ tale of Junie B., First Grader in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) (2009) tells the story of finding out your secret Santa pick is the class tattletale.
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tee: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston (1996) shares the story of Ruthie who wants to find the perfect Christmas tree for the little town.

Every book has a way to invite the reader into a season filled with joy and laughter. Deciding on just one book may be a difficult decision. For extra fun, you can always go with the classic tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. The ending always makes you smile.

Montessori School of Newark can help your child excel in reading through Montessori education, where children are encouraged to work at their own pace and collaborate with others.  Call us today to schedule a tour and learn how Montessori education can be a fit for your family.

The Toddler Tantrum – How to Approach and Diffuse

Children are famous for throwing tantrums when they reach the toddler stage. Some parents will call them the ‘troubled twos’, others refer to the ‘terrible threes’, but what we all realize is the phase does pass. What we call or recognize as a ‘tantrum’ is often just a young child being unable to express themselves verbally. Even as adults, we get frustrated when we cannot make someone understand our feelings, but we have the know-how on how to handle ourselves. A toddler frustrated can only act out as they don’t yet know how to handle their frustration.

The Toddler Tantrums – How to Approach and Diffuse

The first step in handling a tantrum is learning what the cause is. It isn’t always easy as the tantrum can result from anger, frustration, sensory overload, fear, and a number of other reasons. While it is a very loud and attention-getting form of communication, it is not always a clear form and us as adults may not be able to determine the exact cause.

Tantrums are Usually Reactions

When a child is having a tantrum, you should assume they are reacting to a situation they are not able to handle. Since they cannot talk to you and explain how they are feeling and tell you exactly what they want or expect, the toddler will become overwhelmed by emotion and unleash feelings in quite a dramatic fashion – the tantrum. This doesn’t always mean they are consciously and willfully acting out wrong – it is more that they are displaying a learned behavior. Your goal as a parent or teacher is to help the toddler unlearn this type of response.

Assess the Reaction

The first thing you will need to do is find out what is triggering your particular child’s tantrums. Looking at what has happened immediately before, during, and after the tantrum might tell you a lot about why they are happening. Most kids prone to tantrums do them at very predictable times – bedtime, time to put toys away, not being able to have a toy or some other personal situation that involves their play or comfort time.

Reacting to the Tantrum

At the Montessori Preschool, toddlers who experience situations that they feel warrant a tantrum are met with positive reinforcement. As a school that is also a community of other children their same age, it is normal they will find themselves in situations from time to time where things are not going as they want them to. When the tantrum is met with a calm demeanor, persistence, and patience, the tantrum can almost always be diffused. Montessori instructors know how to choose a strategy that is in tune with each child’s individual needs and personality.

Contact Montessori Children’s House in the Bay Area today, and schedule a tour to see how their educational program will benefit your child. Speak with the instructors and learn how they value each student as an individual, ensuring your child receives the education he or she deserves.

Fall Crafts to Make at Home

Fall is a great time for kids to get involved in craft activities. Even your youngest kids will eagerly jump on the chance to learn more about the beautiful colors of fall and what the season is about. A hands-on approach will help ensure your child gets the most out of the activities.

Nature Tray Sorting and Counting

A nature tray is an important part of Montessori activities, and even toddlers can benefit from using one. Gather up items that include leaves or flowers, pine cones, rocks, twigs, and other items you might find outside on a fall nature walk. Your child will enjoy sorting and counting these items, and the fun nature walk focus will help make the counting part more enjoyable.

Fun With Apples

Fall is the ideal time to pick apples and otherwise have fun with this favorite food. You might do these activities separately or as part of a bigger unit on the harvest as a whole. Visiting an apple farm to see how the apples are harvested is an exciting lead-up to other activities that involve apples. When you’ve brought home some apples, consider some fun snack preparation, such as making candy apples.

Fall Leaf Artwork

One of the nicest things about fall leaves and their bright colors is the fact that they are perfect for artwork, even with toddlers. Kids will want to spend time focusing on remembering the colors, and sorting through the leaves to make pictures of trees or murals. If your fall travels won’t take you near fall foliage, consider creating leaves from colorful felt that can form the basis for an art project. Making your own mural with a tree and allowing your child to help add the leaves makes the idea of fall come to life.

Pumpkin Scubbing and Painting

Pumpkin scrubbing is a good activity fro toddlers, especially after having had the chance to select a pumpkin. Regardless of whether a pumpkin will be used in food or as a decoration, scubbing will help your child get used to cleaning vegetables before use. As an alternative to carving, consider getting some non-toxic paints to help your child decorate a pumpkin.

Play-Doh Fall Math Activities

Play-Doh makes a perfect tool for creating countable objects to help kids learn. Learning trays that feature full-color photos of bight apples and pumpkins, along with counters and cards, help make learning simple, and counting and math fun for you toddler or preschooler. Using objects they are seeing a lot of during the fall will help counting come more easily.

Montessori School in Newark offers the perfect environment for creative children who learn well with hands-on activities. Contact us today to schedule a tour to see how Montessori education will benefit your child.

Fall Crafts to Teach Thanks

Fall is the perfect time to teach children what it means to be thankful. At our Montessori schools, we love to teach through hands-on experiences and believe that crafts are a fun way to do this.

Fall Crafts that Teach Thanks

We put together a small list of some fun crafts you can do at home with your child to learn more about being thankful.

A Thanksgiving Tree – Colored construction paper and some tacks or tape is all you need for this craft. Cut out a tree trunk and individual leaves. Use these to create a tree on a space in your home that everyone walks by several times a day. Each day, decide on something you are thankful for. Have your toddler draw a picture on the leaves. Fill in a leaf and attach it to your tree. Each time you walk by, your family will see all the wonderful things you are thankful for.

A Thankful Book – You can use brown paper bags or create a book with sturdy card stock or paper. You will need 5 pages in addition to the cover. On each page write at the top.

  • At home I am thankful for …….
  • At school I am thankful for ……..
  • Outside I am thankful for ……….
  • In my family I am thankful for ……….
  • Other things I am thankful for ……….

Have your child fill in each page with drawings, writing or pictures cut from magazines.

A Jar of Thanks – This one is a simple craft. You will need a large glass jar, decorations and card stock. Let your child decorate the jar. Cut out small cards using the card stock. Now fill in the small cards with things you are thankful for; you can also have your toddler drawer pictures. When someone is having a bad day, they can go to the jar and remember all the things they are thankful for.

Create a Thankful Wreath – Cut out some leaf shapes in fall colors using colored paper or card stock. Have your child draw things they are thankful for on the leaves. Arrange the leaves in a wreath, securing them with glue or tape. You can have each child in your home make one of these and hang them on their bedroom doors.

These crafts are all great ways to help your child think about things they are thankful for and things they appreciate in life. It is never too early to start such a wonderful lesson.

Here at Montessori Children’s Center, we love to use arts and crafts to learn new things. If you are looking for a school for your child that includes hands on learning experiences, contact our school today to schedule a tour.

How Parents Can Support Their Montessori School

Montessori schools are a warm and friendly environment that will bring you and your child together with teachers, other families, and students into a welcoming community. Being part of this community will bring both of you many rewards. You will be able to make choices and decisions about your child’s education and your child will be allowed to learn and grow in a community that focuses on individuality. Supporting your child’s school, even if you do not have a lot of extra time, will keep you informed and help you bridge how your child learns at school with home.

Be Involved

There is always a need for an extra pair of hands and teachers welcome parents to come in and help with activities. There is also a great need for parents to come in and share with the children any special skills they have that could apply to school-age children. The teachers appreciate the help and the children, especially yours, will love the support and interest you will provide for them. You may consider sharing cultural celebrations with your child’s class or plan and supervise an outing or project. There are numerous ways to provide support that will benefit you, your child and the entire Montessori school community.

In or Out of the Home Support

If you are a working parent, the hours of the school day may not fit into your schedule for helping out during class times. Check with your school and ask about ways you can help from home. Providing in-home projects like editing the school newsletter, or helping with the school website is a fantastic way for you to support the Montessori school. There are also out-of-home positions such as serving on the school’s Board of Directors which would meet after working hours or perhaps helping prepare materials for classes that can be done during various hours. Discuss your schedule with your child’s teacher and find where he or she thinks your skills will benefit your child’s class and school best.

Stay-In-The-Know

One of the best ways to support your child’s school and education is to ‘stay-in-the-know’ about what is happening. Reading the school newsletter is a great way to understand what your child has been doing and know what is coming up. Make sure you keep up with communications from your child’s teacher with emails and by attending conferences. Asking your child to talk about his or her day is a wonderful look at how beneficial a Montessori education is and a great way to ‘stay-in-the-know’.

When you enroll your child in a Montessori school you will both be entering a great community. Many schools have parent education meetings where they learn and discuss general parenting issues. Contact Montessori Children’s Center in the Bay Area today to schedule a tour. Find out how you as the parent can support your child on their incredible, educational journey.

Prepping Your Home for a Montessori Student

If you have your child in a Montessori school or are considering placing them in a Montessori school, it is a good idea to have your home environment match up with their school environment. This can allow for the transition from home to school to be a whole lot easier and can give your child a continuous learning journey.

One of the most important phrases we have in our Montessori education is “Help me to do it by myself.” This is a concept that is great to keep in mind when you are setting up your house to mirror a Montessori preschool.

How to Prep Your Home Montessori Style

Bedroom/Playroom

  • Have low shelves with different activities available in baskets. This allows your child to explore what they want when they want.
  • A toddler-size table and chair can give your child a space to sit and read or do an activity.
  • Provide soft spaces where your child can lay down and read or rest.
  • Have low shelving and drawers with clothing options.
  • Provide tools and utensils that are sized appropriately for your child.

Kitchen

  • Provide 1 or 2 lower shelves in your kitchen pantry. Have a special plate, cup, and set of utensils that are child-friendly.
  • Put healthy snacks on the lower shelves so that your child can become capable in getting their own snacks.
  • A cloth and some water or child safe cleaning spray can be added as your child learns to clean up after themselves.

Bathroom

  • Make the bathroom as comfortable as possible.
  • Provide a step stool so your child can climb up onto the toilet.
  • Have a basket of books that either you can read to them while learning to go potty or that they can read to themselves.
  • Make toilet paper accessible.

As you can see, the Montessori student style is very much about independence in both learning and everyday living. Turning your home into a space where your child can practice this independence can help them put all the things they are learning at school into practice.

If you would like to know more about the Montessori style of learning or you are looking for a great school that promotes independence and discovery, come visit us at Montessori Children’s Center and take a tour today. We want to see your child grow and learn in every area of their life.

Bay Area Haunts for Your Young Ones

Whether you have just moved to the Bay Area or you are looking for new places to take the kids, there are plenty of Bay Area haunts for the whole family to enjoy. Here are just a few you may want to check out.

Bay Area Haunts for Your Young Ones

  • Inside the Children’s Creativity Museum you will find a fun hands-on museum in Buena Gardens. Join in on the activities, run and jump in the colorful playground or visit the historic carousel that is just a few minutes away.
  • In Oakland, you will find the unique Museum of Children’s Art. This is a museum that only displays the work of children. For a small fee, your kids can join in on one of the studio sessions. The museum itself is free.
  • The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is a great place to visit if you have kids that are interested in all that happens under the sea.
  • The Bay Area Children’s Theatre offers great adaptations of all your favorite children’s books.
  • Want to visit a farm and teach your children about history? Ardenwood Historic Farm is the place to visit. This is a Victorian era working farm that includes pigs, sheep, rabbits, chicken, turkey, goats, and cows.
  • Want to feed the Otters and Bobcats? CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point in San Mateo is the place to visit. Plus, they offer daily feedings.
  • The Oakland Zoo is less crowded than the San Francisco Zoo and is a great size for little ones to get around by themselves. Rides are additional but offer plenty of extra fun for the kids.
  • The Bay Area Discovery Museum is also a great place to visit. There are great playful permanent exhibits, an art studio and plenty of activities to keep the kids interested.
  • The Tech Museum in San Jose is another great place worth checking out. Social robots, exploration galleries, and a fun play zone make this a great place to spend the day. There is a cafe on site if the family gets hungry.

If your child is curious, independent and loves to explore the world, the Montessori style of education might just be a perfect fit. If you would like to learn more, come and take a tour or contact our staff at Montessori School of Fremont, who will gladly answer your questions. At our Montessori schools, we pride ourselves on helping children grow in all areas of their life, providing a safe space to grow and explore.

When Should Your Child Stop Napping?

Nap times are needed by both parents and children when children are young. For the children, it helps with the growth emotionally, physically and mentally. For the parents, it is a time to get things done or to recover from a busy morning. Naps are a wonderful thing, but maybe your child has stopped taking them, and you are worried they still need them or maybe you are wondering at what age does a child stop napping.

When Will My Child Stop Napping?

On average, many children stop napping altogether when they are nearing 4 years old. This is certainly not an age that is set in stone, in fact, many kids 4 and over continue to take naps. There are signs that your child may be ready to give up their nap; these include:

  • Restlessness and fidgeting at nap time.
  • No afternoon meltdowns when a nap is missed.
  • Consistent energy levels and attitudes.
  • Too much napping makes it hard for them to sleep at bedtime.
  • A consistent struggle to get your child down during the day.

If your child is at the stage of consistently showing the above signs, then nap time may be coming to an end.

How Much Should My Child Nap?

In general, your child likely needs the following amount of sleep during the day:

  • 0-6 months: 3-4 naps with a total of 2-4 hours at a time
  • 6-12 months: 2 naps a day with a total of 1-3 hours at a time
  • 12-18 months: 1-2 naps a day with a total of 1-3 hours at a time
  • 2- 3 years: 1 nap with a total of 1-3 hours
  • 4-5 years: 1 nap with varying durations

If your child is constantly fighting nap time yet you still feel like they need a nap for their physical and emotional health, there are a few things you can do to make napping a little easier.

  • Stick to a nap routine so your child knows when nap time is.
  • Put your child down to nap before they are overtired.
  • Keep the room quiet and dark – you may want to use a noise machine.
  • As they get older, read together at the beginning of nap time.
  • Don’t keep them up later at night thinking it will help with nap time – this can have the opposite effect.

If you feel your child is ready to give up their naps but you both still need a little down time, turn nap time into quiet time. Teach your child that it is time for reading or quiet play. This is a great transition and can allow you to have the time you need without fighting nap every day.

Here at Montessori Children’s House, we believe that children need downtime to be at their best.  To learn more about Montessori education and the programs we offer, contact us today and schedule a tour.