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Living the Montessori philosophy at home with children can seem daunting. Educators get dedicated training in this curriculum, after all, so you might ask yourself, "How could I possibly use this philosophy at home if I don't have a special degree?"


While it's true that educators need to have a well-rounded and complete understanding of the pedagogy to run a classroom, there are some things you can do at home without years and years of study.

To help you get started, here are six elements of Montessori philosophy that anyone can use while interacting with children.

1. Respect your child as a person

We respect our elders, we respect our partners, but the thought of respecting children seems a bit strange at first. After all, they are still new to this world! But that's all the more reason to show children respect in daily interactions. They will feel heard, they will feel loved, and they will learn how to respect others through your example.

Example: If your child wants your attention, but you ask them to wait a moment, make sure you turn to them when you've finished your task. Say, "Thank you for waiting, what can I help you with?" This shows them you respect what they have to say.

2. Foster your child's freedom and independence

When one cares deeply about a child or family member, it's difficult to watch them struggle—we want to step in to help! But this isn’t always helpful in a child's learning process, their self-confidence and their intrinsic motivation.

Most materials in the Montessori classroom are designed to allow children to use them independently, including the kitchen and bathroom areas. Children love the fact that they have control and independence over basic tasks like washing their hands or using the toilet!

At home, look for areas where you can give your child freedom. Maybe a low snack shelf that is all their own? Lower coat hooks so they can reach?

Example: Let your child dress themselves. It might take longer, and the clothes might be mismatched, but in the end, they are learning fine motor skills, step-by-step logic and decision making.

3. Give them freedom—within limits

A delicate Montessori concept, freedom within limits means letting your child guide their own daily activities based on their interests. However, setting limits is important as they help your child understand what is and isn’t acceptable. Any activity that hurts themselves or others would be an example of when to set limits.

Example: At the park, let your child decide how they would like to play. Set some limits before you go, "It's not okay (it's unsafe) to go outside of the fence onto the busy road."

4. Slow down—and give them space

An element of the Montessori philosophy that you can use at home is giving your child ample time and space to explore. Children run on a different internal clock than grown-ups, and it can be difficult to take a step back to appreciate that. Make sure you consider your child when making your daily schedule!

Example: Rather than rushing through a trip to the library, leave enough time for your child to explore the books on the shelves or ask the librarian questions.

5. Use big words—even with little kids

Using "big words" isn't exclusively a Montessori concept, but it is implemented daily in the classroom. Most first-time observers of a classroom are surprised when they hear the teacher announce, "I see some debris on the floor that needs to be picked up before lunchtime!"

You can start incorporating new language at home. Children will pick up the definition of new words through contextual clues or by asking you, "What does that mean?" Very soon your child will be using rich and descriptive language in everyday life.

Example: Don't censor your language. If a firetruck is really big, try using words like “enormous,” “gigantic” or “impressive” to describe it.

6. Always be making observations of your little one

Finally, here's a Montessori reminder for moms and dads to take the time to observe your child. In the classroom, educators spend a lot of time watching how children interact with materials in the classroom and with one another. This information gives the teacher insights into the unique and intricate character of each child.

Example: Watch your child when they are playing by themselves. Observe what gives them true joy, what frustrates them or what they tire of easily. Cater your activities at home based on your child's preferences.

While the Montessori curriculum is best left to a school environment, that doesn't mean you can't use some elements of the philosophy at home. By using some of the tips above like respect, independence and observation, you'll be able to create a caring and supportive environment that will contribute to the happiness of the whole family.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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