The Social Connection

social

Humans are social, by nature!  Some of us, more than others, but we must all have other human connection to survive, learn, grow, actualize, love…you name it.  We gain from being together.  Babies are the same, and this is why it is important to parent around other families.  Getting out and about can be difficult with a newborn, but once your child is a couple months old, both of you may be craving a little social interaction.  For you, sympathizing, empathizing and just having adult conversation can make huge difference in your confidence and happiness as a parent.  For your child, hearing new voices, seeing new faces and having new experiences in small doses helps build his brain!  All of this contributes to a foundation for future social interactions.

How can you help your child in social interactions?

Model: When you interact with others, children or adults, look them in the eye, smile, and have genuine conversation.  Your child is learning from you.

Opportunity: Join a mommy and me class or support group, it is best to join a group with a variety of ages, that way your children get to see other children at different developmental stages.  An ideal group size is ten or fewer so that it is not too overwhelming for either of you.

Guidance: When your child reaches out to interact with another person, feel free to step back and watch.  You don’t have to narrate all of his relationships.  However, if he pulls hair or grabs at another’s skin, while removing his clenched hand, simply explain” this is another person and that hurts her.  Please don’t grab her.”  Saying this out loud helps set a limit for your child that he will soon be able to respect.  This also acknowledges to the other child that her space has been encroached upon, and you are helping to protect that. 

Here in Texas we are happy to offer a variety of Parent and Child classes at Studio June! What parent and child classes do you have in your area?!

PLAY!

playChildren learn through play. It is important to acknowledge that the play that children create and participate in is significant to their development, so in Montessori we tend to call child’s play, their ‘work’.

At Studio June we insure that each week, children are learning through free-play.  The Studio is filled with activities which specifically appeal to your child and his drive to learn.  All of our classes offer opportunities for children and their parents to play, learn, and grow. 

These are six characteristics of free-play:

  1. The time your child spends in the Studio is joyful and pleasurable.  We can hear the joy from the sounds of laughter and giddiness as the children return to the Studio each week.  Ready to get to work, some children seem to almost leap out of their mom’s arms ready to make the most of their time!
  2. There are no extrinsic goals. We know that just the opportunity to work with the toys and activities at Studio June will inspire unique learning. There are definitely probable outcomes, such as using a puzzle with small pegs will strengthen the pincer grasp and aid in the development of shape discrimination.  play2However, if a child chooses to move the puzzle pieces across the table, building a ‘train’ or construct a ‘family’ of animals from the puzzle, his concentration and creativity is not interrupted…this is his time to play.
  3. Play is spontaneous and voluntary.  Children choose what they want to play with.  The only caveat is that they choose something from a shelf (and not take from another child) and when they finish, they put it back, ready for the next person.  We do not dictate what a child finds interesting.  However, we may offer a new lesson that we can see with appeal to a child’s senses.  As we get to know your child we can see how he approaches play and can introduce new activities that will inspire creative play and deep concentration.
  4. Play involves active engagement. All of our activities are active, from finding hidden rattles play6throughout the cabinets and doors to discover to instruments large and small, water activities, trucks and trains, and even a mailbox with letters to mail.
  5. Play involves an element of imagination.  Each child finds a unique way to interact with his toys.  At Studio June he could be building with blocks, making animals swim in the ocean, climbing a bridge, or naming a series of nesting penguins, he is play7encouraged to use his imagination in his play.  The toys and materials we offer allow for creative exploration and help build a foundation of imagination.

 6. Play involves the whole child; mind and body.  A space prepared for free-play must allow for a child to move and explore.  At Studio June we offer such activities.  From the work of an 8 week old under a beautiful mobile, to the exploration of a walking child play4play3who dances to music and beats a drum, Studio June is prepared for every child to have a unique and creative experience.   This comes from the size of our Studio. Each piece of furniture is created to support the independence and movement of the children who play here—shelves to reach, chairs to sit in, cabinets to open and close, toys that appeal to the senses, and activities that build concentration—a Studio to support and optimize the development of the mind and body, simultaneously. 

Is your home ready for conversation?

playspaceChildren are born ready to communicate with their parents. And parents are ready to listen. With each cry, you meet her needs; sleep, clean diaper, milk…you are there and ready. As her basic needs are met, she grows, she is awake for longer periods of time and she wants to interact. The toys you choose are important and the conversation you have with her is significant as she builds her understanding of the world. In order to offer her optimal awake time, here are some key elements to include in your home:

A place to play and move: Choose an area where you spend a good amount of time and create a play space that is close by. Place a blanket or foam mat on the floor. This is a space you can put your baby down and she can enjoy free movement.movement-area

A low mirror: Secure a low mirror to the wall in your child’s play space. The mirror allows your baby to see her full body move, talk to herself when on her tummy or rolling, and reflects the movement around the room and keeps her engaged.

toys-in-basketA basket of toys: A few small rattles in a natural basket give her choices. In the beginning you will hand her a toy to reach for, but soon she will be scooting toward the basket to make her own choice. Each rattle makes a different sound and offers audio information as she builds her knowledge.

A mobile: A mobile hung above her play space offers more mobileopportunities for concentration, reaching experience, and she may even verbally express herself while the mobile floats above her.

Want to know more about the importance of your home play space and meeting your child’s needs through communication? Join us for our Early Communication class in March. We will learn baby sign, how to interpret you child’s attempts at verbal expressions, and finger play and songs to build your relationship.

Spring and Summer Class Registration Now Open!

Spring Class Registration

Studio June offers families the opportunity to discover, play, and learn in an environment design just for them.  Our beautiful studios create opportunities for group experiences to maximize social and emotional development and quiet corners to foster independent, concentrated learning.  Come and see what Studio June has to offer you this spring! Classes begin March 28. Register Now!

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Summer Camps Also Open

Know a little one who likes cooking? Trucks? Construction equipment? Gardening? Summer camps start in June. Registration is open now!

Potty Learning Camp! June 20-23

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to work side-by-side with Potty Learning Expert Sarah Moudry to get your potty training on track this summer.  Sarah is the Author of Toilet Awareness and has helped to introduce hundreds of to a gentle and clear potty training method. Children attend this class with a parent or caregiver and has very limited spaces.

Click here to register and for more information.

How to Add Minutes to Your Day

1Life is busy, and having young children can often slow down our adult schedules.  Especially during transitions (leaving the house, leaving a restaurant, leaving the playground…leaving anywhere).  One way to support your child’s budding independence and make up a few minutes in the process is to allow your 2child to do as much for himself as possible.  I know, it sounds counter intuitive, however, young children are often more inclined to be a part of the transition if they can be active in the goal.  They do not like to be passive members of the family, and they enjoy knowing what their role is.  They feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment.43
How might you prepare?  The first thing I recommend to parents is to show a child how to put on his own shoes, as soon as he starts walking.  It is amazing how young children can do this with just the right set up.

There are 3 key pieces to preparing for success:

  1. A place for the shoes – Place your child’s shoes always in a consistent spot, so they know just where to find them; on a rug by the door, in a basket in their room…do what works for your home and keep it consistent.
  2. A place to sit – A child needs a low bench or chair, proportioned just right for his top-heavy body, having a place to sit by the door can help him to balance and focus on one foot at a time.
  3. The right shoes – The right shoes make all the difference.  There are so many cute options out there, however this is the time to think of function first!

Shoes for new walkers:

    • do not cover the ankles
    • have a flexible sole
    • should not have a moulded arch 

In addition to all of that, the part that is going to make this process work is the closure.  Velcro is the answer.  Slip-ons, buckles, and laces are not useful until later.  The shoes should have a single velcro strap the is easy to pull back to get the toes in and then easy to close tightly enough with one hand.  Many shoe styles have a velcro strap that crosses over and back across the top of the foot.  This will not work, and here is your remedy: shoe-transition

You can do this with your sewing machine or have a shoe repair shop help you.

The next step is to show your child where every thing is, how to use the space, and Tada!…you are out of the house! 

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Bake Together For the Season

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One of the things I love the most about this time of years is all of the wonderful opportunities to bake with my children.  I always enjoy baking with them and at this time of year, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen together.  As they get older, they take on more responsibility in the kitchen.  Just last weekend E made a lemon meringue pie from scratch.  It was wonderful to watch him work and to enjoy the pie together after dinner!

Baking with children when they are young is important.  It educates their senses and connects them to their culture.  As my children become more independent in the kitchen, I find myself offering more classes at Studio June to families with young children so they can bring this experience home too.  Check out our new Bake with Me 3-5 years class at Studio June!

Bake-with-me-2 Bake with Me 3-5 years

Follow Studio June on Facebook for discounts and promo codes. HINT: There’s one up right now: BAKENOW

For those of you unable to join us for a class, here are some tips to help get your child involved in the kitchen:

  1. Work at your child’s level.  Although a Learning Tower or a step stool has its’s benefits in bring your child to counter height, working at a low table can help your child feel in control during baking projects.  He is better able to move around and stabilize his body for big movements like mixing and grating.
  2. Take your time when introducing each ingredient.  Give your child time to smell the spices, feel the skin of the fruit, and even squeeze the dough.  These are important sensorial impressions he needs to incorporate into his knowledge of these experiences.
  3. Take turns.  Show him how to mix, and assure him that he will get a turn to try too.  After you show him, invite him to have a turn.  Then ask to have a turn again.  Taking turns builds a great foundation of collaborative work.
  4. Have a child sized spoon (links to a great children’s cooking set!) and a adult size spoon for mixing.  This way you each have the tool that fits your hand.  Children learn to control their movements best when their tools are sized for their body.  This also allows you to show your child how to mix properly with a spoon that is sized right for you.
  5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Let the little spills and drips go.  You can keep a wet sponge near by and invite him to wipe up in between each step.  Allow the bits of flour to fall on the table or the milk to drip from the pitcher spout.  He will get more coordinated with experience and he will appreciate your calm demeanor while he is learning.
  6. Use a clear acrylic mixing bowl so he can see the mixture as you combine the ingredients. It’s like watching the polar bears swim from the underwater room at the zoo (or if you slip through the ice at the North Pole!).

Happy Baking!

Moving Forward

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Children are born to move.  At first reflexively, but as they have more experiences moving their body freely, they gain control over their movements and the movements become purposeful.  a reflexive hand brushing the bell that hangs above him, soon becomes a meaningful reaching any batting at the bell to repeat the cause and effect.  Your baby is learning that his movements impact his environment; his first experiences of his ability to control and manipulate his environment.

How can you support your child’s efforts to move?

  1. Offer meaningful and interesting experiences to move toward
    • toys that roll: balls, rolling rattles, a Happy Apple
    • baskets of interesting object at a distance from one another around the house: a whisk, a plastic container, a wooden spoon
  2. allow time for him to lay flat on the floor and move freely
    • a soft mat or quilt on the floor makes for a comfortable space
    • a mirror next to this space supports his growing knowledge of how his body moves
  3. Dress your baby for free movement
    • Dress him in clothes that do not restrict his movement such as short trousers with elastic waists or play suits without fitted feet
    • Lightweight fabrics are better than coarse fabrics like denim and make it easier for him to move his body.

A Whole Meal

vegetarian meal

Now that another school year has started my children have once again been challenged by their teachers to bring a balanced lunch to school.  When packing lunches the conversation around proteins, grains, fruits and veggies has been wonderful.  I take the opportunity to test my children’s understanding of how their foods are wade and all their ingredients.

This is no accident, maybe a little unforeseen, but I have been setting this stage from their first meal.  Each of them had their first solid food meal at about 6 months. At a calm time of the day I introduced a complete meal in replacement of a liquid meal.  I set the table with a special set of dishes, a napkin, placemat, and bib, and sat across the table as now it was their turn to eat, not cradled in my arms – latching on, but at a table as a separate person from me: my show of respect for their development and individuality.

We do not have a history of food allergies in our family, so although I was quite aware and observant when offering new foods, I was not particularly concerned.  The first meals need protein, grain, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, and water: all the components that their meals need now.  I started with puréed foods and after just a few short weeks moved to chunkier, mashed foods and soft bite-size foods.  This transition helped them to be more independent in eating as well as didn’t prolong the liquid and purée stage.  Trying new textures early in the introduction of solid foods allowed my children to have more variety in their diet and stay open to trying new foods.

An example of one of their first meals is:  Peaches, roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil, rice cereal and hard boiled egg yolk with breastmilk.  So many textures and flavors and a complete meal – worthy of replacing a milk meal.  After all, they received a full meal when nursing, it was important for me to continue that into their new solid meals.

Making sure even the first meal is a complete meal helps to lay the foundation for a healthy relationship with food.  Sure they have foods they prefer, don’t we all? But they are far from picky eaters.  

Rephrasing “No!”

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As a parent, saying “no” seems to come so naturally.  And I do think it has an important place in my vocabulary.  However, I find it can really shut down a conversation when I lead with it.  SO in an effort to keep it positive, I have challenged myself to create a list of how I could say yes instead of no.

Just a little background story; we have desserts at our house, just not every day.  I like to think I am teaching my children how to enjoy sweets in moderation.  I also believe in helping them develop an ability to delay gratification/patience.

“Mom can I have a cookie?”

“No!”

   or

1. Yes, after you finish your dinner.

2. Thats a great idea, when should we have cookies, after lunch or after dinner?

3. Yes, tomorrow I will have fresh cookies available after dinner.

4. Yes, when we go to the store next, we can choose some cookies.

5. Yes, I love to bake with you, lets find a recipe.

6. I love to share a sweet treat with you, shall we enjoy it after dinner today or tomorrow?

7. When would you like a cookie, today or tomorrow?

8. Yes, but I don’t have any cookies, can we enjoy some sweet fruit together?

9. Yes.  Lets choose which day this week you would like a cookie.

10. Yes, let’s have cookies, what a great idea.